Stopping the Stigma About Schizophrenia Symptoms

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), schizophrenia affects about 1 percent of the population. It is a treatable condition, but it continues to be shrouded in misconceptions. Schizophrenia myths can increase the stigma surrounding the condition and even keep people from seeking the treatment they need. Get the truth behind six common schizophrenia myths.

People With Schizophrenia Have Split Personalities

The word “schizophrenia” means a split mind — but not a split personality, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Specifically, the term is meant to describe a split between the feelings and thoughts that people with schizophrenia experience. People with schizophrenia experience a split from reality, which may include hallucinations and delusions, according to Northeast Ohio Medical University. The mental health condition that causes split or multiple personalities is called dissociative identity disorder.

People With Schizophrenia Are Dangerous

“Of all the schizophrenia myths, this is the one that bothers me most,” says Andrew Savageau, MD, assistant professor of psychiatry at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center in Columbus. “This myth adds to the stigma surrounding schizophrenia and may even cause people to avoid being diagnosed and treated. In reality, people with schizophrenia are more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators of violence.” Even when schizophrenia symptoms go untreated, people with schizophrenia are more likely to withdraw than to lash out at others, the Child Mind Institute reports.

People With Schizophrenia Can’t Lead Productive Lives

“Some people with schizophrenia are disabled by it, but with early treatment, many lead very full lives. I have patients who are married, have children, have advanced degrees, and have successful professional careers,” Dr. Savageau says. Schizophrenia is not curable, but it can be treated. A treatment plan that includes medication and behavioral therapy can help people with schizophrenia lead well-adjusted and productive lives, according to the Child Mind Institute.

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If Your Family Member Has Schizophrenia, You Will Too

Schizophrenia does run in families, but there is more to it than genes. “Even if you have an identical twin with schizophrenia, you only have about a 50 percent chance of developing the condition,” Savageau says. “You need a double hit — you must have the genes and also something that triggers the genes, such as severe stress or emotional trauma.” According to NAMI, if a close relative like a sibling or your father or mother has schizophrenia, your risk of developing it is only about 10 percent.

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People With Schizophrenia Are Always Seeing Things

Hallucinations are part of the split from reality people with schizophrenia experience. They may also develop false beliefs, called delusions, but none of these schizophrenia symptoms happen around the clock. Savageau says that hallucinations are common in untreated schizophrenia and that they are typically heard, not seen. “Visual hallucinations are less common,” he says. “Hallucinations usually respond very well to treatment. They usually go away within a week to 10 days.”

  • Stopping the Stigma About Schizophrenia Symptoms

    According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), schizophrenia affects about 1 percent of the population. It is a treatable condition, but it continues to be shrouded in misconceptions. Schizophrenia myths can increase the stigma surrounding the condition and even keep people from seeking the treatment they need. Get the truth behind six common schizophrenia myths.

  • People With Schizophrenia Have Split Personalities

    The word “schizophrenia” means a split mind — but not a split personality, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Specifically, the term is meant to describe a split between the feelings and thoughts that people with schizophrenia experience. People with schizophrenia experience a split from reality, which may include hallucinations and delusions, according to Northeast Ohio Medical University. The mental health condition that causes split or multiple personalities is called dissociative identity disorder.

  • People With Schizophrenia Are Dangerous

    “Of all the schizophrenia myths, this is the one that bothers me most,” says Andrew Savageau, MD, assistant professor of psychiatry at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center in Columbus. “This myth adds to the stigma surrounding schizophrenia and may even cause people to avoid being diagnosed and treated. In reality, people with schizophrenia are more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators of violence.” Even when schizophrenia symptoms go untreated, people with schizophrenia are more likely to withdraw than to lash out at others, the Child Mind Institute reports.

  • People With Schizophrenia Can’t Lead Productive Lives

    “Some people with schizophrenia are disabled by it, but with early treatment, many lead very full lives. I have patients who are married, have children, have advanced degrees, and have successful professional careers,” Dr. Savageau says. Schizophrenia is not curable, but it can be treated. A treatment plan that includes medication and behavioral therapy can help people with schizophrenia lead well-adjusted and productive lives, according to the Child Mind Institute.

  • If Your Family Member Has Schizophrenia, You Will Too

    Schizophrenia does run in families, but there is more to it than genes. “Even if you have an identical twin with schizophrenia, you only have about a 50 percent chance of developing the condition,” Savageau says. “You need a double hit — you must have the genes and also something that triggers the genes, such as severe stress or emotional trauma.” According to NAMI, if a close relative like a sibling or your father or mother has schizophrenia, your risk of developing it is only about 10 percent.

  • People With Schizophrenia Are Always Seeing Things

    Hallucinations are part of the split from reality people with schizophrenia experience. They may also develop false beliefs, called delusions, but none of these schizophrenia symptoms happen around the clock. Savageau says that hallucinations are common in untreated schizophrenia and that they are typically heard, not seen. “Visual hallucinations are less common,” he says. “Hallucinations usually respond very well to treatment. They usually go away within a week to 10 days.”

  • People With Schizophrenia Live Out Their Lives in Institutions

    “That was before we had effective medications. Now we can treat people as outpatients and fewer people need long-term care in mental health facilities. Schizophrenia does not have to be progressive — we can keep many people in remission as long as they keep taking their medications,” Savageau says. According to NAMI, although relapses occur, most people with schizophrenia learn how to manage their symptoms and are able to lead active lives.

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