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World Schizophrenia Day 2018: 8 myths about Schizophrenia debunked

Schizophrenia is surrounded by a lot of misconceptions. A psychiatrist helps us understand the condition.

World Schizophrenia Day 2018 is on May 24.

The problem with mental health or conditions is that there are less awareness and more misconceptions. These misconceptions keep on growing because no one takes it upon himself to clear them with rational reasoning. This makes the job of mental health experts even more difficult. For instance, with a condition like schizophrenia, there are a lot of misunderstandings among the general public, like, people suffering from this condition have split personalities or it is an outcome of poor parenting or lack of will power. But the reality is far from true. So this World Schizophrenia Day let's debunk these myths.

MYTH #1: Schizophrenia is caused because of parental negligence

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Fact: Schizophrenia has multiple causations and bad parenting may be related to it but can't be labelled as a cause of illness. There are many genetic, neurodevelopmental models trying to explain the cause of the illness but till date, the cause of the illness is a mystery. The illness is universal, present all over the globe and has 1 percent of the population suffering from it. Bad parenting may lead to personality disorders, depression, substance abuse and other psychiatric illnesses but not schizophrenia.

MYTH #2: Patients suffering from schizophrenia have multiple personalities.

Fact: This is a very common belief that patients with schizophrenia have split personality, i.e., they behave as if they are two different people in different situations. But in reality, they have lost their touch with reality and are guided by delusions (false beliefs/suspicions) and hallucinations which affect their social behaviour.

MYTH #3: Patients with schizophrenia are mentally retarded.

Fact: Patients suffering from schizophrenia though may occasionally have communication and attention problems but they have normal intelligence. Many creative and intelligent people had suffered from the illness but were very successful in their life.

MYTH #4: Schizophrenia patients cannot be treated at home and needs admission to mental hospital.

Fact: In the past patients suffering from any mental illness were put into asylums and they used to stay there throughout their life, but now with the recent advances in medicine most of the patients can be treated at home and they can have their family and job.

MYTH #5: Schizophrenia patients are violent and a threat to society.

Fact: Though the patients suffering from schizophrenia may behave unpredictable sometimes but are rarely violent, on the contrary, due to the delusion that someone may harm them they try to remain alone and aloof. Mostly violence in schizophrenia is linked with alcohol and other substance abuse by the patient. Sadly, violence against oneself is common in schizophrenia; as many as 10 percents of those with schizophrenia die by suicide. So it may be more important to be alert for suicidal thoughts than violent ones.

MYTH #6: Patients suffering from schizophrenia can't work and are lazy.

Fact: Though the illness can make it difficult for them to take care of themselves and to concentrate on the work at hand, with proper medications and support most of the patients can live a normal life and have a successful career.

MYTH #7: The medications that treat schizophrenia stop working over time

Fact: This is probably one of the most destructive misconceptions about schizophrenia because it implies -- very discouragingly -- that even successful treatment is only temporary. The truth is that using medication to treat psychiatric illness is always a trial-and-error effort, and medications and dosages have to be frequently adjusted to compensate for changes in body chemistry, lifestyle, diet, age, and many other factors.

MYTH #8: Schizophrenia cannot be treated.

Fact: It is a sad truth that schizophrenia cannot be cured, but with appropriate treatment and lifestyle modifications patients with schizophrenia can live a normal life and have families. The majority of patients have a productive life with aggressive treatment of their symptoms.

Image source: Shutterstock


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