Staying Positive About Schizophrenia by Chrissy Phelps
Staying Positive About Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is a serious illness which affects the way you think, your feelings and behaviour. The National Alliance on Mental Illness estimates that it affects 1% of Americans. With symptoms like delusions, hallucinations and muddled thoughts, a diagnosis of schizophrenia is, without question, frightening. However, as these inspiring TED Talks demonstrate, it is possible to deal positively with mental illnesses, including schizophrenia, and live a successful and fulfilling life.
Symptoms of schizophrenia usually begin in the late teenage years, which is tough, since just being a teenager is hard enough right? A diagnosis can only be made by a mental health clinician, but there’s a lot of information out there about the most common symptoms. The American Psychiatric Association, for example, sets out categories of symptoms that may indicate that a person has schizophrenia.
Following diagnosis, it’s important to consider treatment and schizophrenic care options that will give a person with schizophrenia the best chance of living a fulfilling life. Usually, a multi-pronged approach is taken towards treatment, which will include both medication and psychotherapy.
These vitally important aspects of treatment will be provided by psychiatrists and mental health professionals, but there are things that a person with schizophrenia can do to deal with the illness in a positive way. Let’s have a look at some of these.
A healthy diet, exercise and stress management may play a part in alleviating schizophrenia symptoms. Certain foods, like those rich in omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, may have positive effects on symptoms whereas others, such as alcohol, coffee and refined carbohydrates may have negative effects. Exercise can have a positive impact by boosting energy and mood, and can help you cope with stress.
Involving Friends and Family
Elyn Saks, Professor of Law, Psychiatry and Psychology has had schizophrenia for many years and, in her TED Talk, she states that friends and family have been key in helping her live with the illness. Including family in visits to the doctor or therapist and encouraging them to ask questions could help them support you. You could ask them to help spot early warning signs that may signal psychosis, and tell you when they think you need extra help.
Having the support of family is great, but you can still feel isolated. There are support and self-help groups where you can discuss the illness with people who recognize what you’re going through. Joining a group may give you the chance to talk about strategies for managing symptoms that have worked for others and that you may want to try.
Although, at the moment, there is no cure for schizophrenia, it can be treated. Many people with schizophrenia have successful careers and loving families. The recent increased willingness to talk about mental illnesses, is also a great positive step towards creating an arena of understanding in which people with schizophrenia and other mental health issues can thrive.