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Schizophrenia is a severe and chronic mental disorder that affects an individual's feelings, thinking, and behavior. Most schizophrenia patients appear as if they have lost touch with reality. Even though this disorder is not as common as other mental illnesses, its symptoms can be disabling. Schizophrenia symptoms begin to be visible mostly between the age of 16 and 30. However, in rare cases, children also may acquire this disorder. The symptoms of the mentioned mental illness fall into three categories: negative, positive, and cognitive (Kingdon & Turkington 2005).
This research paper is aimed at discussing how schizophrenia can affect an individual's everyday life including their families, work, and personal life. Further, the paper will also examine therapeutic interventions and some theoretical concepts for this behavior.
The negative symptoms of schizophrenia are brought by disruptions to healthy behaviors and emotions. One of the warning signs is flat affect, which is the limited facial expressions or other feelings, for example, tone of voice. The second symptom is reduced speaking. Thirdly, victims experience difficulties while beginning as well as sustaining activities. Lastly, the feeling of pleasure in daily life is also weakened.
The positive symptoms are classified as psychotic behaviors that are hardly seen in healthy people. They include hallucinations, movement disorders, delusions, and thought disorders (Kingdon & Turkington 2005). Individuals with positive symptoms are likely to lose touch with reality. For some patients, the cognitive symptoms are subtle; however, other individuals experience severe changes in their memory or diverse aspects of thinking. The symptoms entail trouble paying attention or focusing on something, poor executive functioning, and difficulties with working memory.
Effects of Schizophrenia on Families
The effects of schizophrenia on families are always disruptive and distressing. For a family member, the first sign occurs as a confusing change, especially in his or her behavior. Some parents ignore the early symptoms mistaking them for distressing aspects of adolescence. However, stress and confusion increase as the schizophrenia condition becomes worse (Mueser et al. 2006).
After the diagnosis, coping with the ongoing symptoms can be difficult for family members, especially when they remember how the person behaved before they became ill, and how much they have changed since the disorder affected them. Besides, the individuals with schizophrenia deny the fact that they are sick; thus, their family's efforts to provide help appear as interference to them.
When parents realize that one of the children has schizophrenia, they go through a wide range of strong emotions: they seem to be shocked, angry, confused, and even dismayed. Sometimes, the members of the family display sorrow because they feel like they have already lost one of their closest relatives. The parents are also full of anxiety as they are afraid of leaving their child without somebody's supervision. Others feel guilty and ashamed due to the fear of what people will think of them.
There are cases when the affected families even withdraw from social activities, experience weight loss, sleeplessness, concern for the future, feeling of isolation, and bitterness alongside other negative reactions. Some people live in total denial of the illness claiming that schizophrenia could not have struck one of their family members. To some extent, this disorder also tears families apart, resulting in the divorce of the couples. On the other hand, some of the affected families also love their closest ones who have this disease with bitterness (Mueser et al. 2006).
There are several ways in which families can help their relatives with schizophrenia. First, they need to recognize the patient's symptoms. When unusual behavior is observed, it makes sense to seek advice from a doctor. An acute episode may happen suddenly; alternatively, symptoms can develop gradually. Some of the significant symptoms include agitation and sleeplessness, anxiety, angriness in addition to the withdrawal from social contacts. In some cases, these symptoms could not be the evidence of schizophrenia. They could probably be the result of an injury, drug use, or extreme emotional distress.
Secondly, families can search for the proper medical help. Taking initiative and asking for referral and assessment if the symptoms seem to occur is highly advisable. Family members are the first people to discover the symptoms, and thus, suggest medical help. If people with this mental disorder accept delusions and hallucinations as reality, they might reject the treatment. The family members should be persistent and find a doctor who is familiar with the illness handling. Since the schizophrenia patients may not provide the doctor with much information, the family members should help the psychiatrist and the doctor.
Thirdly, family members can assist in conducting most of the treatment. There could be exchanges between the patient and the doctor that the former would like to keep confidential. Nevertheless, family members must have all the relevant information related to the care and treatment of their close people, and the doctor must be able to discuss the signs and symptoms of the condition, possible relapse, and finally, treatment strategies.
The care and support that the patient receives from his or her family are of particular importance as they might help the person accept the illness. Therefore, the family should make them realize that there is hope for recovering and that the disease is manageable.
Effects of Schizophrenia on Work
Even though schizophrenia is a severe mental illness, some patients can work with the disorder. On the other hand, they are at risk of encountering some challenges when undertaking full-time jobs. Sometimes, the sick feel better working as volunteers or doing part-time jobs. Nevertheless, when not properly supervised, the hallucinogenic symptoms of schizophrenia can make any work impractical.
This happens in most cases among patients with auditory and visual hallucinations. Being in a working environment with this disorder when it is not adequately controlled can be dangerous to the patients and their colleagues. Severe schizophrenia can have a negative influence on the individual's mental capacity at work. For instance, patients who are seriously affected will lose concentration at work (Mueser et al. 2006).
Besides, most schizophrenia patients struggle with social situations. Some of the disorder symptoms include disorganized behavior, incoherence, illogical thinking, flat-line behavior, and absurd speech. Thus, any of the mentioned symptoms can complicate the functioning in any work environment and social sphere in general. Most of the individuals with schizophrenia, for example, tend to manage their symptoms through withdrawing since being on their own is more favorable for their state. Thus, when it comes to managing schizophrenia, withdrawal is the prevalent solution they opt for.
The disorder symptoms are the common barrier affecting patients with schizophrenias' ability to work. According to the experts in this area, cognitive and negative symptoms cause more problems when it comes to working. They also highlight difficulties with executive function and problems with interpersonal relationships. Such people need to be supported in various ways when it comes to working to have an enhanced quality of life.
However, some people recover from this mental illness and return to the condition appropriate to work. Therefore, the government, as well as society, should recognize such individuals and encourage them to obtain good care to lead decent lives. According to one of the researches, between 30% and 50 % of individuals having schizophrenia are in a position to work (Stone, 2004).
The barriers towards employment for individuals with schizophrenia comprise structural and attitudinal factors. The individual elements are low self-esteem and expectations as well as a lack of motivation. Among the attitudinal factors, there is stigmatization which can further reinforce and create a cycle of low expectations among the individuals living with schizophrenia.
To illustrate, some healthcare professionals underrate the abilities, experience, and skills of their clients; this, in turn, fuels their client's fears and own doubts resulting in self-stigma. It is noted that stigmatization is one of the largest barriers to labor opportunities for schizophrenia patients.
Structural factors, for instance, the fear of losing benefits and financial disincentive, are also common obstacles. Most employers believe that mental illness affects cognitive capacity, the ability to make decisions, and the capability to deal with pressure and stress (Stone 2004). Thus, employers argue that people with schizophrenia can only perform low-level repetitive manual labor roles and low-skill duties.
Effects of Schizophrenia on Personal Life
As it is proved, schizophrenia affects more males than females. Symptoms such as hallucinations begin to be visible at the age between 16 and 30. Moreover, men experience these symptoms earlier than women. Just as in the case with families and work, schizophrenia also affects the victim's personal life profoundly. First, an individual can have suicidal thoughts, which is a common thing among those living with schizophrenia (Corcoran 2000).
The sick with schizophrenia can die earlier than other people without mental illness due to increased suicide risk. It is complicated to predict which schizophrenia patients are inclined to committing suicide. However, some patients opt for using drugs to reduce the risks. In most cases, people living with this disease are not unsociable; they live with bitterness and hate themselves. A person with schizophrenia is likely to engage himself or herself in the frequent consumption of alcohol or drugs. Such substances interfere with the person's work, school, health, and social life.
Being addicted to such debilitating substances makes treatment less effective for schizophrenia patients. The affected person will also consider it unnecessary to seek any medical help due to the utilization of the substance. It is worth mentioning that the commonly abused drug is nicotine; thus, individuals with schizophrenia are more likely to smoke unlike the people without this mental illness.
However, researchers are still investigating whether there exists a biological basis for the mentioned claim. They recommend bupropion as an effective for smoking cessation among individuals with schizophrenia. Also, studies show that stopping or reducing smoking does not worsen schizophrenia symptoms.
Cannabis is another drug that can affect a person's life by leading to worsening health conditions. Thus, individuals who are at the onset of schizophrenia are more likely to smoke marijuana. The consumption of cannabis increases the rates of other diseases such as infectious illnesses, heart disease, hepatitis, trauma, etc. (Corcoran 2000). For the patients with this particular mental illness who also have substance abuse disorder, the best way of recovering is through the treatment program that integrates schizophrenia as well as substance abuse treatment.
Therapeutic Interventions for Schizophrenia
There are several interventions helpful to schizophrenia victims. One of them is rehabilitation which emphasizes vocational and social training to assist schizophrenia patients in participating fully in their societies. Since schizophrenia develops in the years of intensive career-development, mostly between the ages of 18-35, the life trajectories of the patients are interrupted (Kingdon & Turkington 2005).
Therefore, they want to learn new things and return to their normal life as soon as possible. Notably, the rehabilitation programs include money management counseling, employment services, and skills training which are crucial to maintaining a relationship.
The second intervention is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) which is a form of psychotherapy that focuses on changing unfavorable patterns of behavior and thinking (Steel 2013). CBT therapists teach individuals with schizophrenia how to test the reality of their perceptions and thoughts, how not to listen to their voices as well as how to manage the symptoms of the disease. Such practice helps in minimizing the severity of symptoms as well as reducing the risks of relapse. This therapy can be delivered individually or in groups (Steel 2013).
In my viewpoint, CBT is the most therapeutic intervention that could best work for schizophrenia patients as it is particularly instructive. Besides, these adaptive therapies have a shorter time, and consequently, they provide the chances of getting better rather than feeling better.
Furthermore, the third intervention is self-help groups where the members comfort each other and share information on the helpful services and strategies for coping with the disease. The individuals who participate in the self-help groups are aware of the challenges that others are facing, and this aids every individual to feel more connected (Kingdon & Turkington 2005).
Finally, the fourth intervention appears through education and family support. This makes individuals learn more about schizophrenia and its treatment; it also strengthens their capacity to assist their loved ones towards recovering. Besides, friends and families can also impact schizophrenia patients by providing support to their engagement in treatment as well their pursuit of recovery goals; evidently, positive communication approaches are the most propitious.
In conclusion, the outlook for individuals living with schizophrenia is improving continually as there is the availability of treatments that work well. Besides, new methods and strategies are being developed as well. Today, most people with this mental illness are experiencing recovery and are leading independent and satisfying lives. It can be difficult to understand how to respond to individuals with schizophrenia, especially those who make false or strange statements. These hallucinations and beliefs appear very real to have to the patients.
Thus, it would be of no help to inform the victims of being wrong or having imaginations. Going with the delusions will not bring any results either; rather, it is better to say that the patient sees things differently. The surrounding people should persuade them that they acknowledge that every individual has their right to see things differently. Most importantly, it is significant to understand that schizophrenia is a biological illness. Thus, being supportive, respectful, and kind is the most favorable manner of approaching individuals with this disorder.