Psychotic Disorders / Schizophrenia

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Psychotic disorders all have one thing in common: their symptoms all include some degree of delusion and/or hallucinations. Schizophrenia is perhaps the best known, but film and fictional portrayals of this mental disorder have spread some misconceptions. In addition, the term schizophrenia in psychiatry is more limited than its colloquial meaning.

Schizophrenia is a relatively rare brain disorder, affecting less than one percent of the population, characterized by delusions (believing things that aren’t true) and hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that don’t exist). Popular culture has wrongly identified “multiple personality” with schizophrenia. Multiple personality disorder is a dissociative, not a psychotic, disorder.

Stereotypes of people with schizophrenia are also misleading. Most people with schizophrenia are neither violent nor dangerous. Not all people with schizophrenia end up homeless or need to be hospitalized. With proper treatment, medications can alleviate symptoms, allowing persons to live productive lives.

Diagnosis can be complicated because other medical illnesses and substance use can mimic the symptoms. After ruling out those other illnesses, a diagnosis can be made. And just as other illnesses vary from mild symptoms to more severe, the same is true of schizophrenia. Episodes can vary in duration, frequency and severity.

As with other chronic medical conditions, medications control but do not cure schizophrenia. Many people with schizophrenia respond extremely well to medications, but they can relapse if they discontinue taking them. Others need continued support to help them manage their illness.

At one time, a diagnosis of schizophrenia was cause for despair. There is much reason for optimism these days. Research into the brain’s structure and functioning has led to improved treatments and therapies. Combined with the positive support of family, people with schizophrenia can live rewarding lives.

If you or someone in your life has exhibited symptoms of schizophrenia, contact Saginaw Psychiatry to schedule an appointment. Diagnosis and treatment can change a life for the better.

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