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Busting Four Common Myths about Schizophrenia

According to the National Alliance on Mental Health, approximately 2.4 million Americans are living with a schizophrenia diagnosis. Every day, doctors and researchers are learning more about this complex mental health condition, and although great progress has been made to better understand this multifaceted condition, there is still much we don’t know, which can lead to inaccurate assumptions. Below are four common myths about schizophrenia, and the truths behind them:

Myth #1: People with a schizophrenia diagnosis are violent or dangerous

Fact: The portrayal of schizophrenia in movies and television has led many people to inaccurately correlate schizophrenia and violence and aggression. Barb Gossman-Eisenhauer, Clinical Team Lead at Centerstone, says that in most cases, people with schizophrenia are “victims of abuse, rather than the perpetrator.” In fact, adults with a diagnosis on the schizophrenia spectrum who engage in aggressive acts often are scared and are misinterpreting their environment due to the symptoms of their diagnosis. These individuals may have had some past trauma or abuse as a child or young adult that could contribute to some aggressive behaviors, but these acts don’t represent most persons with schizophrenia. “Don’t let one person be your representation of the entire diagnosis” Gossman-Eisenhauer adds.

Myth #2: People schizophrenia have multiple personalities

Fact: Schizophrenia and dissociative identity disorder, or multiple personality disorder, are two entirely different diagnoses. Though schizophrenia can cause hallucinations, this is not the same as being diagnosed with multiple personalities. Some common symptoms of schizophrenia include:

  • Delusions and/or disordered thinking
  • Disorganized, rapid, or frenzied speech
  • Change in mood
  • Sleep disruption
  • Isolation
  • Change in appetite
  • Paranoia

Myth #3: People with schizophrenia can’t go to school or work

Fact: Untreated schizophrenia spectrum disorders can negatively impact quality of life and can make daily activities extremely challenging. However, with the right treatment, someone with this diagnosis is fully capable of holding a job or attending classes, though some additional supports may be necessary depending on a person’s unique circumstance.

Myth #4: There is no long-term treatment for schizophrenia

Fact: Currently, there is no cure for individuals on the schizophrenia disorder spectrum, however, treatment options are available. Some treatment options include therapy, medication and support. Gossman-Eisenhauer notes “if psychosis symptoms are caught and treatment begins early enough, some patients can fully recover from their first episode.” That is why the First Episode Psychosis program is so important to individuals who have a first psychosis event.  A psychosis event and a schizophrenia spectrum diagnosis does not mean the end of a person’s way of life; there is promise for a bright future, and recovery is possible.

If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health concern like schizophrenia, Centerstone can help. Call us at 877-HOPE123 (877-467-3123) or visit our counseling services page.

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