This week saw the passing of Schizophrenia Awareness Day and I think it’s time to take a moment to learn some facts about this much stigmatized mental illness.
Schizophrenia and Bipolar are Related
Some researchers now believe that schizophrenia and bipolar disorder exist along a continuum. This makes sense when you consider people with schizophrenia can suffer from psychosis similar to psychosis seen in some with bipolar disorder. Antipsychotic medication is also used to treat both bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
Here are a few facts about schizophrenia:
- Average onset is between age 16-25
- 1 out of 12 hospital beds in Canada are used for schizophrenia treatment.
- Schizophrenia is not a split personality.
- Schizophrenia is a brain illness that distorts the senses, impairs cognition and makes it difficult to know what is real and what isn’t.
- 50% of teens with schizophrenia attempt suicide.
- People with schizophrenia are no likely than the general population to commit violence. They are more likely to be victims of violence.
- Schizophrenia is a treatable mental illness.
On Schizophrenia Awareness Day I shared some of these facts with random folks I bumped into, like the grocery cashier and a dental hygenist. It’s not about sanctimony but it is about knowledge of real facts and not just media portrayals and irrational fear. People are scared of what they don’t understand – don’t be one of those people.
- For amazing resources on schizophrenia, psychosis and related issues (including what to do if you think someone has schizophrenia) see here.
- More schizophrenia information on HealthyPlace.
- US and international schizophrenia help and information
- People Say I’m Crazy: a film made by John Cadigan, a person with schizophrenia, who allowed his life to be filmed for a year for the documentary. I think that’s amazing and brave.
I’ll leave the last word to Dr. Phillip Long, psychiatrist:
“The worst thing about having schizophrenia is the isolation and the loneliness…”
It doesn’t have to be this way. We know better.
Image created and provided by filmmaker John Cadigan.