Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that currently affects a little more than 1% of the worldwide population. Those who suffer from it often have difficulty discerning between reality and fantasy. They often hallucinate and withdraw themselves from social interactions, and their thoughts are frequently disordered and illogical. Those who live with the disorder face the risk of experiencing schizophrenic episodes which may cause them to harm themselves or others. Individuals with schizophrenia are much more likely to attempt suicide than those without the disorder. Despite popular belief, schizophrenics are not often violent against others. Most often, they are withdrawn and prefer solitude. There currently is no cure for any of the varying types of schizophrenic disorders. However, many individuals who struggle can live fairly independent lives depending upon the severity of their symptoms. With medication, people with schizophrenia can have some control over the disorder.
It’s estimated that approximately 28% of people with schizophrenia live independently, 20% live in group homes, and about 25% live with family members. Sadly, the remaining 27% percent are either homeless, living in jails or prisons, or living in hospitals or nursing homes. Many researchers believe that half of all individuals with severe psychiatric illnesses, including schizophrenic disorders, are left untreated. Reasons for this may be because individuals don’t know about their treatment options as well as the high cost of treatment. Also, some mentally ill people believe that they can solve the problem on their own without seeking medical treatment. One thing to remember about schizophrenia is that there’s no cure for the disorder. However, living independently with the disease doesn’t mean living in complete isolation. It’s vital for individuals with schizophrenia to be surrounded by a community that they can trust.
Subtypes of Schizophrenia
There are various types of schizophrenia. Regardless of the type and level, if left untreated, schizophrenia can have a significant impact on quality of life.
One of the most well-known types of schizophrenia is paranoid schizophrenia. Individuals with paranoid schizophrenia often hallucinate and have deluded thoughts. They can quickly become hostile if they feel they’re being threatened or conspired against.
People with disorganized schizophrenia have significant trouble performing daily activities. They may neglect themselves physically by not bathing or getting dressed. They also may be incomprehensible in their speech patterns.
Individuals with catatonic schizophrenia often display disturbed movements. They sometimes repetitively perform the same futile movements, make unusual facial movements or expressions, and may move their limbs in an unusual manner, which can be mistaken for dyskinesia. People with catatonic schizophrenia may also mimic the body movements of others or obsessively repeat what others say.
Patients are said to display the residual subtype of schizophrenia when symptoms are no longer prominent. The patient may still show some signs of the illness, but the symptoms have declined in comparison to the severest forms of schizophrenia.
People with undifferentiated schizophrenia show symptoms that aren’t easily categorized as they may exhibit symptoms of all of the other subtypes of schizophrenia with no discernible pattern. For example, the undifferentiated variety may sometimes show signs of paranoia, but at other times they may show stronger signs of being catatonic.
How to Live Independently with Schizophrenia
Regular visits to mental health professionals, taking prescribed medications, and joining a support group are important for individuals struggling with schizophrenia. Psychiatrists can prescribe medication to combat symptoms more effectively. Additionally, psychologists and counselors can evaluate how well patients are adapting to their environment and make recommendations for non-medicinal treatment. And joining a group therapy session or support group provides a community for schizophrenics to lean on and learn from. Interacting with a community of schizophrenics will provide a network of people that understand symptoms and are able to provide suggestions if and when the disorder spirals out of control. Family members of schizophrenics should also stay involved in the lives of their mentally ill loved ones. Family members are familiar with the patient and are able to tell when something is wrong.
Risks of Living Independently with Schizophrenia
Schizophrenics sometimes stop taking their medication because of the medication’s side effects. Side effects often include loss of sex drive, restlessness, muscle spasms, blurred vision, fatigue, and weight gain. When a schizophrenic stops taking their meds, symptoms can return. Many people have been known to commit suicide, become excessively paranoid, and hurt themselves and others, especially when they are off of their medication. Schizophrenics should contact a doctor if feeling depressed, helpless, suicidal, delusional, or if they are having hallucinations. However, schizophrenics cannot tell when they are hallucinating or delusional. To a schizophrenic, their hallucinations and deluded thoughts are real.
Most schizophrenics are diagnosed in late childhood and early adulthood. It is very rare for people to begin showing symptoms after the age of forty. With the use of anti-psychotic meds, most patients are able to reduce the number of their psychotic episodes and increase their chances of living independently.
John Forbes Nash
John Nash, a renowned mathematician and 1994 winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, battled paranoid schizophrenia for over 30 years. After extensive hospital stays, taking the prescribed medications, and even undergoing shock therapy, John claimed that he began to think and behave much more rationally and that he was able to have more control over the sickness. The book and movie “A Beautiful Mind” is based on John’s life.
One of the most astounding jazz players and music composers of the past three decades, Tom Harrell has struggled with paranoid schizophrenia since young adulthood. Harrell is able to overcome this devastating disorder with a combination of medicine and his music, which serves as an extraordinary therapy for him. In addition, the support of his wife, Angela, is a constant factor in his ability to live independently with schizophrenia.
High achiever and renowned Broadway star Meera Popkin was diagnosed with mild schizophrenia during her performance as Miss Saigon in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s award-winning musical “Cats.” After a 10-year struggle with the disorder, Meera is now married and enjoying watching her baby girl grow up. While still taking low doses of medication, her schizophrenia is no longer discernible.
Schizophrenia Treatment at Pasadena Villa
At our Pasadena Villa treatment centers, we successfully treat schizophrenic disorders using our unique Social Integration Model, during which our mental health professionals work directly with clients to observe them in actual social situations and incorporate these observations directly into each client’s ongoing treatment plan. This individual, real-life personalized attention makes the Pasadena Villa treatment experience more appropriate and beneficial for each of our residents, especially when compared to any other available adult residential treatment mental health services.
Our programs include:
- Smoky Mountain Lodge (Sevierville, TN) – Intensive Residential Treatment and Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)
- The Villa Orlando (Orlando, FL) – Intensive Residential Treatment and PHP
- The Stables Autism Program (Sevierville, TN) – Intensive Residential Treatment
We also have psychiatric treatment centers dedicated to outpatient programming. For more information about our outpatient locations, click here.