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Stigma and Schizophrenia

There is an enormous amount of stigma and misunderstanding around mental illness in our society, and nowhere is that more apparent than for those diagnosed with schizophrenia. Many individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia are labeled as “crazy” or “insane”. Scientists believe that schizophrenia results from disruption in the brain’s entire communication system, leading to hallucinations, delusions, and other serious mental health symptoms.

While depression or anxiety may not always be readily identified, the communication style and behavior of individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia (and left untreated) may lead to the highest level of stigma associated with mental illness. However, in the same vein, individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia that engage in proper treatment may not show any obvious signs of the disorder, despite being so misunderstood.

Maybe the worst element of the stigma against schizophrenia that does not exist with other mental illnesses is the fear associated with the diagnosis. There appears to be an assumption that schizophrenia is associated with violent acts, when in fact individuals diagnosed with the disorder are more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators. Also, difficulty in relating to others in social situations may lead to those with schizophrenia being perceived as loners, when in fact the disorder prevents emotional expression that is needed to form healthy relationships.

For those seeking to understand and support individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia, or any mental illness for that matter, maybe the most important step will be to remember that no one asks for, or causes, their mental illness. Just as with any physical health diagnosis, individuals struggling with mental illness are likely just trying to care for themselves and navigate their reality in the best way they know how. For family members and friends of individuals diagnosed with mental illness, compassion and support may be the best way they can assist their loved ones in continuing to live a meaningful and fulfilling life, no matter what diagnosis they are dealing with.

For more information on the diagnosis and stigma related to schizophrenia, check out the link below. If you or someone you love needs treatment for mental health issues, call Main St. Psychiatry today.

Original material found at: https://psychcentral.com/blog/the-ongoing-challenges-of-schizophrenia/?li_source=LI&li_medium=popular17

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