The 8 Myths About Schizophrenia (And Why They’re Not True)

Schizophrenia is among the most complex mental disorders, being therefore one of the most stigmatized. Moreover, today there is no consensus between the different professionals concerning several aspects related to this disorder, such as its origin or the most appropriate treatment; however, today we have many advances and research.

On the other hand, there are many myths about schizophrenia and among them we can highlight the following: that people with schizophrenia are generally violent and dangerous, that schizophrenia has no treatment, that all people with people with schizophrenia need to be hospitalized or that people with schizophrenia are not able to lead full and productive lives, among other myths.

In this article you will find several of the main myths about schizophreniaand an explanation of why they are not true.

The stigma of people with schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a mental disorder whose main symptoms are: hallucinations, delusions, disorganized or catatonic behavior, disorganized speech and certain negative symptoms such as abulia, laziness or affective flattening, among others. It should be noted that to make the diagnosis, at least two of the symptoms mentioned above must have been present for at least one month.

On the other hand, these characteristic conditions of schizophrenia would involve a series of complications in different areas of the patient’s life such as work or studies but also social and/or family for a period of at least 6 months. Today, there are multidisciplinary treatments, where the use of psychotropic drugs is usually combined with psychotherapy, which offer very good results.

However, despite the fact that there have been many advances in the diagnosis and treatment of schizophrenia, there is a lot of ignorance among the general population and this causes this disease to become so stigmatized.

It should be mentioned that stigma is one of the main causes of suffering for people who have been diagnosed with a serious mental disorder such as schizophrenia due to the impact it generates at the psychosocial level.

Due to stigma, we can see different things: signaling, discrimination, loss of employment, resentment of social relationships, greater difficulties in re-entering the labor market or loss of status, among others.

The most important myths about schizophrenia (and why they are false)

All these negative consequences arising from the diagnosis of the disease have behind them a series of myths that have emerged around schizophrenia. That is why we will comment on them below.

1. People with schizophrenia tend to be violent and dangerous

Among the myths about schizophrenia that we can find, perhaps the most widespread is the one that refers to the claim that people who have been diagnosed with schizophrenia are generally dangerous, engage in violent behavior and are also unpredictable. This statement is still a myth since people with schizophrenia are actually no more violent than the general population. In addition, people with schizophrenia are more likely to be victims of violent acts than perpetrators.

2. Schizophrenia only develops due to genetic causes

Despite the fact that genes can play an important role in the development of schizophrenia, in research carried out in recent years with patients, it has been possible to observe that, although schizophrenia is a disease that affects at the level of the brain , other psychological and social factors also have an important weight. Therefore, it is not yet known with absolute certainty what the origin of schizophrenia is, so that there are various theories.

In neither case can we say that schizophrenia develops solely because of genes, the hypothesis that suggests various influencing factors such as those mentioned above is more limited.

3. Schizophrenia has no cure

The claim that schizophrenia has no cure is another of the major myths about schizophrenia since, despite having a complex prognosis due to it being considered a chronic illness, there are currently multicomponent treatments including pharmacology and psychotherapy that offer very favorable results.

Therefore, one could consider that schizophrenia has a cure and is manageable with a good therapeutic approach, just as it occurs with other chronic illnesses. The most important thing is to choose the treatment that best suits each patient’s needs so that they can lead a full life.

It should be noted that the multidisciplinary treatment of schizophrenia according to some experts should follow certain recommendations aimed at treating the symptoms of each patient according to the phase of the disorder in which they are.

If you are in the first phase, called “acute or crisis”, the most recommended would be a psychopharmacological treatment in order to stabilize the symptoms of the acute psychotic episode. If you are in the “stabilization” phase, you need to focus on stress reduction and relapse prevention. If you are in a “stable” phase, you will need to adjust the psychopharmacological treatment to minimize side effects and impact on social skills training and vocational rehabilitation in order to help the patient to readapt in the different areas of his life.

4. All people with schizophrenia should be hospitalized

Here we find another of the most common myths about schizophrenia, as a high percentage of people diagnosed with schizophrenia receive outpatient treatment and live in their usual residence.

They are usually hospitalized after suffering a seizure or psychotic episode and discharged when symptoms are stabilized, preferably opting for outpatient treatment so that patients can live a life that adjusts as much as possible a day before the first crisis. In addition, being supported and surrounded by loved ones can promote adherence to treatment and a better prognosis.

5. People with schizophrenia are not able to lead full and productive lives.

Among the myths about schizophrenia we can also find the widespread idea that people diagnosed with schizophrenia cannot lead productive or full lives, when the reality is that in most cases, after receiving adequate treatment , the symptoms will subside over time or at least improve positively. so much so that a high percentage of people with schizophrenia can lead productive and full lives at the same time.

It is important to mention that the more integrated patients with schizophrenia are in the different areas of their lives (e.g. work, studies, social, relational, etc.), the better their prognosis will be and the sooner the symptoms will improve or will decrease. Moreover, with adequate treatment, cases have been found in which the symptoms have regressed over the years, tending to stabilize so that it is possible and feasible for schizophrenia to remit.

6. Normally, everyone with schizophrenia has the same symptoms

This would be another of the main myths about schizophrenia since in reality there are different types of schizophrenia (paranoid, disorganized, catatonic, residual, etc.). Moreover, it is quite common that they present very different symptomatology from people who have been diagnosed with the same subtype of schizophrenia. The same is true for other mental health problems (eg depression) where it can be observed that, despite the fact that there is a common or similar symptomatology, each case and each patient is a world and therefore two identical diagnoses will never be found.

7. People with schizophrenia are less intelligent than the average population

This is another one of the most popular myths about schizophrenia when the truth is that it does not directly affect the intellect. In reality what happens is that in the development of schizophrenia it is quite common that they are experienced a series of difficulties with attention, memory, processing information, or organizing ideas or thoughts, among others, which usually occur as side effects of drugs used to treat schizophrenia; however, there are intellectual skills that can be found intact, as well as sensorimotor skills.

In addition, there are people with schizophrenia who have above average intellectual abilities or who are simply found in “normal” levels, so having this disease is not decisive in terms of variation in ‘intelligence.

8. Schizophrenia usually comes on suddenly

Here we can see another one of those myths about schizophrenia due to the fact that we now know that schizophrenia is a disease that develops over time. A series of strange behaviors are usually observed in the initial stages among which it is worth noting the neglect of hygiene and/or social isolation, among others. Then, as the disease progresses, that’s when the psychotic flare-ups start, and that would normally be when the positive symptoms start, such as hallucinations, delusions, etc.

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