Although it can be challenging to discern the exact statistics, research shows that between 0.25%-0.64% of the US population experiences schizophrenia or another related psychotic disorder. If you love someone with schizophrenia, you may feel uncertain, scared, or frustrated- you might not know the right thing to say or do.
These reactions are normal. All mental illnesses can be challenging. With that in mind, having the proper education and awareness is key.
Learning the main misconceptions about schizophrenia can help you support your loved one and get them the help they need. Let's get to it.
People With Schizophrenia Are Violent
While violence can be a symptom of psychosis, assuming that someone will hurt another person is dangerous and shortsighted. In fact, people with schizophrenia may be more likely to be a victim of violence themselves.
Mental illness does not inherently make someone violent. Instead, research shows that violent behavior emerges from a combination of risk factors, including:
having an early history of aggressive behavior.
history of hyperactivity, attention deficits, or other learning disorders.
involvement with drugs or alcohol.
limited impulse control.
high emotional distress.
high levels of antisocial behaviors.
chronic exposure to violence within the family-of-origin.
involvement in gangs.
social rejection by peers or other social communities.
People With Schizophrenia Can't Work
Many individuals hold successful, meaningful jobs despite their schizophrenia. When engaging in the appropriate treatment, symptoms may be stable or even dormant. This status allows them to function well in society.
In fact, work can be an important component of a successful recovery. When someone has a consistent and predictable schedule, they tend to have higher levels of emotional stability. Similarly, they have to hold themselves accountable to their commitments, increasing self-efficacy and motivation for treatment.
People With Schizophrenia Can't Live on Their Own
Like all mental illnesses, schizophrenia exists on a spectrum. Some cases are milder, and others are much more severe.
Some people indeed benefit from living in a structured environment with medication management and professional support. Once they achieve a level of stabilization, many people can and do live on their own successfully.
Appropriate treatment can consist of anything from acute hospitalization to long-term outpatient care. When it comes to achieving optimal success rates, family support and medication tend to be the best defense line.
People With Schizophrenia Had Bad Parents
Unfortunately, many people want to point fingers at the individual's family when it comes to mental illness. Not only does this often trigger immense shame and guilt, but it can wreck even the healthiest of family systems.
Research continues to show that mental illnesses do not have single causes. Schizophrenia typically emerges from a combination of both genetic and environmental factors. Certain issues, such as extreme stress or substance use, may trigger symptoms.
Parents should avoid blaming themselves for mental illness. While they can and do play an important role in supporting their children, they cannot assume full accountability for someone else's brain development!
People With Schizophrenia Are Completely Detached From Reality
Just because someone has schizophrenia, it doesn't mean they are in a constant state of hallucinations or delusions. It's quite normal to have periods of lucid, coherent thoughts.
In times of stress, hallucinations may emerge. However, these hallucinations can be subtle, making it challenging for the individual to know if they are real or not. In some cases, they are real, but the individual experiences them in a slightly exaggerated way.
Delusions can also be tricky to detect. Cultural considerations, substance use, and individual philosophical thought can all play a role in how we perceive the world. Reality itself isn't always entirely obvious, and it's important to be sensitive to your loved one's perspective.
Finally, some symptoms may move in and out of remission. When this happens, it can seem like the person is "completely" normal. However, symptoms might also emerge without warning, making it challenging for others.
Schizophrenia Is Completely Obvious
That isn't always the case! Mental illness can be covert and insidious.
Keep in mind that you may not know if someone is struggling with schizophrenia. Some people are savvy enough to recognize that others might judge their thinking. They might worry about the potential consequences. Therefore, instead of sharing how they feel, they choose to keep their thoughts to themselves.
It's not your job to play detective. It is, however, your job to remain compassionate, supportive, and curious about their struggles.
Why It's Important To Understand the Misconceptions About Schizophrenia
We live in a society that often shames and stigmatizes mental illness. Misconceptions about schizophrenia can result in excess fear, unnecessary detachment, and even delayed treatment, resulting in devastating consequences.
At The Mental Health House, we understand the importance of understanding and treating all mental illnesses. Regardless of your situation- or your history with treatment- we are here to support, guide, and encourage you towards wellness. Contact us today to learn more.