What to know about schizophrenia

What you need to know about Schizophrenia and how it should be treated

Approximately 1.5 million people are diagnosed with schizophrenia every year, around the world.[1]

Schizophrenia can be deceiving--starting out with seemingly innocuous and mild symptoms that can quickly escalate into full-blown schizophrenia. Delusional episodes, which is when a person is unable to distinguish between what's real and not real, are amongst the most frequent early symptoms. These episodes are very frightening for both the sufferer and their loved-ones.

Here are the symptoms that may present in someone suffering from schizophrenia,[2]

  • Delusional behaviour
  • Active hallucinations
  • Confused thought processes and disorganised speech
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Movement disorders
Get help fast

The sooner schizophrenia is treated, the better the outcome for the person living with the disorder. If left untreated severe personality changes can occur and symptoms may intensify, which makes living a fulfilled life extremely challenging.[2]

If you know someone experiencing some or all of the above symptoms get them to a doctor as soon as possible.

Early treatment means positive outcomes

After schizophrenia diagnosis, the patient should start treatment as early as possible, which will include therapy and medication. There are various medications available and the patient's psychiatrist will suggest the most appropriate, they could include,

  1. Oral medication or tablets which must be taken daily. The challenge with this treatment is that many people living with schizophrenia find it difficult to stick to the medication schedule. What's more, people who do not have an active support system often run out of medication and forget about their follow-up appointments and can go periods with no treatment at all.
  2. Monthly injection or long-term, slow-release medication is proven to be highly effective as it eliminates the need to take tablets every day, and once administered, the dose lasts for a month.

The good news is, that with the appropriate treatment, a person living with schizophrenia can go on to live a fulfilled life and achieve their goals.

How Alex went on to become an Attorney after being diagnosed with schizophrenia in his 20's.

*Alex was studying Law at Wits University when he experienced a mild breakdown. Despite the incident, he managed to continue his studies and graduated with a Law degree.

While Alex was completing his articles, he began to experience hallucinations, delusional behaviour and often struggled to form cohesive thoughts and sentences.

Alex went to the doctor and was referred to a psychiatrist who diagnosed him with schizophrenia. At first Alex was overwhelmed, believing his life and career was doomed, until he started treatment.

His doctor prescribed the monthly injections believing Alex would benefit from the convenience and reliability of the long-term treatment and to Alex's surprise, his symptoms were reduced and his life returned to normal.

Alex was even able to achieve his goals. He works and lives a fulfilled life and is an advocate for people living with schizophrenia. He is also an active contributor for a support group that meets weekly to assist and support other people living with the disorder.

Alex is just one of the many people living with Schizophrenia who proves that with the correct diagnosis and appropriate treatment, a person living with schizophrenia can go on to live a long and fulfilled life and achieve the goals they set for themselves.

*Names have been changed to protect the individual's privacy.

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References

National Institute for Clinical Excellence. Psychosis and schizophrenia in adults: prevention and management. 2014. CG178.
APA Clinical Guidelines. American Psychiatric Association. Practice Guidelines for the treatment of patients with schizophrenia. 2004.
Hasan et al. World J Biol Psychiatry 2012; 13: 318─378.
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