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Myths and facts about Schizophrenia

Medically reviewed by

Written by Kriti Dugar

Schizophrenia can be a challenging mental health disorder that affects your ability to think and act clearly. It is often characterized by distortions in thinking, perception, emotions, behavior, or even the sense of self of an individual. Individuals dealing with schizophrenia experience hallucinations. For people with schizophrenia, delusions are also another symptom that they find distressing. 

However, like any other mental health disorder, the signs and symptoms are treated through therapy or medication. Unfortunately, there is a ton of misleading information regarding this mental health illness spread by movies, tv shows leading to stereotypes and bias against such people. 

Dealing with schizophrenia can be tough but you can always connect with mental health professionals at Cadabam's. Our helpline number 9741476476 is available to you 24x7 for the treatment options around you.

Let's look at some common misconceptions about schizophrenia and break them together!

Schizophrenia means you have multiple personalities

Myth:  A person with schizophrenia has multiple personalities.

Fact: The DSM V categorizes disorders based on their signs and symptoms. When an individual displays multiple personalities, it's called Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). It has other risk factors and is entirely different from schizophrenia. 

An individual dealing with schizophrenia may have false ideas or have lost touch with reality. These symptoms include delusions, hallucinations, and bizarre beliefs. An individual coping with schizophrenia has only one personality and not multiple personalities unlike what this schizophrenia myth has us believing.

Another reason for this myth might be that etymologically the term 'schizophrenia' comes from 'schizo' meaning split and 'phrenia' meaning mind. Putting those two meanings together might lead people to draw the wrong conclusion that someone with schizophrenia has two or more personalities.

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Most people with schizophrenia are violent or dangerous

Myth: Most people with schizophrenia are violent.

Fact: People with schizophrenia are often characterized as sadistic, unpredictable, and violent in popular culture. Even though people with schizophrenia can act unpredictably, most aren't violent, especially if they are undergoing treatment. Instead, people with schizophrenia are more likely to be victims of violence or hate crimes. Due to their symptoms, they are likely to harm themselves. Suicide rates among this group are generally on the higher side. 

If people with schizophrenia indulge in violent acts, it is usually because they have comorbidity with another disorder like childhood conduct problems or substance abuse. However, this disorder singularly doesn't make one physically aggressive.

Myth: A person with schizophrenia cannot hold a job 

Fact: People with schizophrenia can function well when actively under medication and psychosocial treatment. A job can help people recover from schizophrenia as independence and empowerment are essential components. It serves as a form of vocational rehabilitation and even increases the pace of recovery.  

However, psychosocial support through psychotherapy, family education, and self-help groups make a recovery truly possible. It can help those with schizophrenia cope and regain their lives. Additional treatments like social skills counseling, job training, and vocational counseling also can be helpful.  

Myth: An individual with schizophrenia has sudden mood swings.  

Fact: In the progression of this illness, a person may first become withdrawn, isolated more frequently, and diminish participation in activities. There is never a sudden dramatic change of character in individuals with schizophrenia. 

Stressful events such as the first day at college, entering a relationship, or other circumstances could cause a psychotic break. Hence, it is more of a slow progression, with a waxing and waning course over months and years. 

Schizophrenia can’t be treated.

Myth: Schizophrenia is not treatable, and the individuals living with it deserve to be hospitalized.  

Fact: Like any other mental health disorder, schizophrenia may be a challenging illness, but it is not entirely impossible to deal with. Some treatments include cognitive behavioral therapy, talk therapy, medication, etc. 

The level of care of the individuals depends on the severity of the symptoms. People with mild symptoms can stay at home or opt for outpatient care to maintain day-to-day normalcy. However, for extreme cases, one may need to choose hospitalization or in-patient care. 

Bad parenting can cause schizophrenia

Myth: Schizophrenia is caused by bad parenting  

Fact: There is no identified cause for schizophrenia. While there may be genetic susceptibility that could play a role in developing the disorder; however, it is a common myth that bad parenting causes schizophrenia, where the mothers are usually blamed. Rather than a single gene, various genes and environmental factors like substance abuse or stress are likely responsible for schizophrenia. Each of these factors may have a small impact on the overall development of the condition.

Myth: It is believed that Schizophrenia symptoms are identical for all. 

Fact: All individuals with schizophrenia do not experience the same symptoms or severity. There are different types of schizophrenia, including paranoid, disorganized, childhood, and catatonic schizophrenia. Other conditions closely associated with schizophrenia include schizoaffective disorder, agoraphobia, and panic disorder. The symptoms and type vary depending upon the individual. 

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Myth: Schizophrenia impacts intelligence.

Fact:  Schizophrenia does not have an impact on an individual's intelligence. Studies show no association between high/low intelligence and the development of schizophrenia. People with the condition may have more trouble with tests of mental skills such as attention, learning, and memory. However, in no way does it imply that they are not intelligent. We have the most talented and intelligent individuals who dealt with schizophrenia throughout history, including Russian ballet dancer Vaslav Nijinsky and Nobel Prize-winning mathematician John Nash. 

Schizophrenia Treatment: The Way Ahead

If your loved one is dealing with schizophrenia, it may feel scary, especially with all the commonly believed misconceptions about the disorder. Schizophrenia is a complex mental health condition, and there is still a lot of ongoing research about it. 

The lack of awareness about mental health conditions such as schizophrenia can perpetuate several harmful myths to people who have the condition. A better understanding of the facts can help people move past any stigma and be more understanding and supportive of people with severe mental health conditions.

Let all of us do our bit and break these schizophrenia myths and misunderstandings! The biggest toward a better future for individuals fighting the disorder is to understand schizophrenia, the facts around it, and learn how to help the individuals!

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