Schizophrenia is a chronic brain disorder that affects a person’s perception of reality, thinking patterns, emotions and behaviour. Typically it emerges in late teenage years or early adulthood, but it can occur at any age. Although you might hear terms like “split personality disorder” when it comes schizophrenia, its more about a disruption in the thought processes, leading to a distorted perception of what is real and what’s not.
The cause of schizophrenia is still unknown, but research suggests that it comes from a combination of genetic, environmental, and neurochemical factors (activities of the nervous system) . Family history, exposure to infections and substance abuse are among the known risk factors associated with the development of schizophrenia. It is important to note that individuals without any of these risk factors can also develop the disorder.
Some common misconceptions of people struggling with schizophrenia are…
- People with schizophrenia are violent and aggressive
- It means someone has ‘multiple’ or ‘split personalities’
- People can never get well
While certain symptoms may be present, they are not exclusive to individuals living with schizophrenia. Each person’s experience with the condition varies, and like any other mental health issue, they can have both good and bad days. If you have a friend or loved one experiencing schizophrenia, you might feel uncertain about how to respond when they share perceptions or beliefs that you don’t understand. However, it is important to acknowledge that their experiences are genuine and significant to them.
Take some time this National Schizophrenia Awareness Day to learn about the the condition and how it effects people. If you or someone you know is suffering with schizophrenia, and you want further help and advice, visit Healthline for a handy article on ‘7 Ways to Support a Loved One with Schizophrenia’ or visit NHS.uk and search schizophrenia.