Schizophrenia is a serious mental health disorder, but once a patient has been correctly diagnosed, the condition can very often be successfully controlled using medication and the patient can lead a perfectly normal life. But if someone you know has not yet been diagnosed with schizophrenia and is suffering from the disturbing symptoms of the disorder, do schizophrenics know they are schizophrenic?
There are different levels of severity in patients suffering from schizophrenia and the illness very often develops slowly. Symptoms can fall into two different categories: those characterized by delusional behavior and hallucinations, and those characterized by a loss of normal function.
Do schizophrenics know they are schizophrenic?
Schizophrenia patients usually lack insight into their illness, which makes it very frustrating for those who are trying to help. This lack of awareness is also one of the main reasons why many sufferers of schizophrenia stop taking their medication once they are well again. Another problem with schizophrenia patients is that what others see as disturbed behavior, they see as “normal”.
What are the common symptoms of schizophrenia?
Delusions and hallucinations are usually the product of an acute psychotic episode in a patient suffering from schizophrenia. Such an episode can be very frightening for close family and friends and it is very likely that the patient has no idea they are ill. Other symptoms include jumbled and confused thought patterns, social withdrawal, depression, and a lack of interest in things the patient normally takes pleasure from.
Many schizophrenia patients claim to hear voices in their head. This symptom is one of the positive signs of schizophrenia and is classed as a hallucination. To the patient, the voices will seem completely real, even though nobody else can hear them. The voices might give instructions, or just be abusive, but in most cases, the patient will be unaware the voices are a product of an underlying mental illness.
Schizophrenics often suffer from delusions while in the throes of an acute psychotic episode. The delusions can take on a variety of forms, including a belief that the voices in the patient’s head are an indication other lifeforms are trying to communicate with them. Delusional behavior often appears in tandem with paranoia and persecution complexes and because of the nature of the delusions and hallucinations, schizophrenics can withdraw from family, friends, and society in general as the illness progresses, which can make it harder to identify.
Such behavior can sometimes make it extremely difficult to treat a schizophrenic patient as their belief that they are being persecuted, harassed, or plotted against in some way leaves them unwilling to accept help. Many schizophrenia sufferers have no idea how unwell they really are, even when they are in the midst of an acute psychotic episode. In such instances, it is usually up to the patient’s family or friends to seek professional help on their behalf.
Although anti-psychotic drugs are an effective treatment for schizophrenia, they do have to be taken on a regular basis or the patient is at risk of a relapse. Anti-psychotic medications are highly effective at preventing a recurrence of further psychotic episodes, but if the patient stops taking their medication, they are likely to suffer symptoms.