Schizophrenia is a continuing, serious, and immobilizing brain disorder that has touched people throughout history. People who suffer from schizophrenia might hear voices that others do not. They might think that people are reading their minds or controlling their thoughts, or making plans to hurt them. This can scare people with the illness and cause them to withdraw and become extremely upset. These people may talk in gibberish and be extremely hard to understand. They may sit in one spot for hours without moving or talking. These people may seem perfectly normal until they speak about what is going through their heads. People with schizophrenia may have trouble holding a job or taking care of themselves, so they depend on other people to help them. Statistics: Schizophrenia is a disabling disorder for those affected and is very costly to families and society. “The overall cost of schizophrenia was estimated to be $62.7 billion with $22.7 billion in direct healthcare costs.” (schizophrenia.com, 2010) Schizophrenia usually begins at early ages of 15 and 25. More men develop schizophrenia earlier than women do. Women usually develop the illness a few years later than men do and it occurs more often after the age of thirty. Schizophrenia usually does not occur in people younger than ten or older than forty. About “1.1 percent of the population over the age of 18 have schizophrenia. This means that as much as fifty one million people around the world suffer from schizophrenia at any given time.” (schizophrenia.com, 2010) About 100,000 people in the united states will be diagnosed with schizophrenia this year. Currently “more people suffer from schizophrenia (2.2 million) than multiple sclerosis (400,000), diabetes (350,000) and muscular dystrophy (35,000),” (schizophrenia.com, 2010) “After ten years, people diagnosed with schizophrenia:
25% Completely recover.
25% greatly improve, some-what independent.
25% Improved, but require extensive support.
15% Unimproved, hospitalized.
10% Committed suicide.” (schizophrenia.com, 2010)
If someone is suspected of having schizophrenia, a doctor may ask for a person’s medical and psychiatric histories. They will conduct medical and psychological tests. Some of the requested medical tests could include a complete blood count, blood tests to rule out other conditions, alcohol and drug screenings, an MRI or a CT scan. A doctor will often order a psychological evaluation that will be conducted by a mental health provider. The mental health doctor will check a person’s mental status by “checking a person’s appearance and demeanor, asking about a person’s thoughts, moods, delusions, hallucinations, substance abuse, and potential for violence or suicide.” (Mayo Clinic, (2014) To be diagnosed with schizophrenia, a person must meet the diagnostic criteria set in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. A doctor will first work to rule out other mental disorders and make sure that the symptoms a person has is not caused by substance abuse, medication or a medical condition. The person must display two of the following symptoms most of the time over a one-month period, with some type of disturbance present over a six-month period:
Delusions – Delusions are “false beliefs that are not a part of the person’s culture and do not change.” (NIMH, 2010) Some of these delusions could include thinking people can hear and affect their thoughts, thinking people are out to get them, and thinking people are plotting to harm them.
Thought Disorders – These occur when a person has an unusual way of thinking. Disorganized thinking occurs when a person cannot organize their thoughts. Another form of thought disorder could be a person speaking gibberish.
Movement Disorder – A person may show this symptom by appearing to twitch or have unusual body movements. A person could also sit in the same place without moving or speaking for