is a severe and debilitating brain and behavior disorder affecting how one thinks, feels and acts. People with schizophrenia can have trouble distinguishing reality from fantasy, expressing and managing normal emotions and making decisions.
such as hallucinations and delusions usually start between ages 16 and 30. Men tend to experience symptoms earlier than women. Most of the time, people do not get schizophrenia after age 45. Schizophrenia rarely occurs in children, but awareness of childhood-onset schizophrenia is increasing.
There are several factors that contribute to the risk of developing schizophrenia.
- Brain chemistry
- Brain structure
- Brain development
Scientists believe that many different genes may increase the risk of schizophrenia development, but that no single gene causes the disorder by itself. It is not yet possible to use genetic information to predict who will develop schizophrenia. Scientists also think that interactions between genes and aspects of the individual’s environment are necessary for schizophrenia to develop.
Caring for a Partner Who Has Schizophrenia
Every relationship has its ups and downs, but when one person is diagnosed with schizophrenia, it’s possible for even stable partnerships to become strained or for couples to break up altogether.
For people whose partner was healthy when the relationship began, the onset of schizophrenia can come as a shock. The disease can change a person’s behaviour and personality, and symptoms can make even the most caring and loving individuals appear distant and cold.
Frank Baron, who has SCHIZOAFFECTIVE DISORDER, a type of mental illness that triggers symptoms similar to schizophrenia, says that when someone is newly diagnosed with a disorder like schizophrenia, their loved ones should try to show compassion. “The best thing to say is, ‘I love you and I care about you. This doesn’t change how I feel about you,’” he says.
CARING FOR A LOVED ONE WHO HAS SHIZOPHRENIA
can be a huge job that’s both tiring and frustrating at times. The following advice can help keep the relationship going strong.
***The caregiver should set up their own support system. If your partner has schizophrenia, they may not be able to meet your emotional needs as well as they once did. Plus, according to a study published in October 2017 in the journal PSYCHIATRIC SERVICE , caregivers to people who have schizophrenia tend to experience relatively high levels of distress. That’s why it’s important to have access to mental health support, such as a counselor or therapist. Friends and family can also provide a listening ear or a much-needed distraction.
***The person who has schizophrenia must accept treatment. Left untreated, the condition can cause people to behave erratically, leaving their partners to become subject to verbal abuse, emotional neglect, and delusional accusations. No healthy relationship can sustain these behaviors.
***Both partners must communicate. Open and clear communication can help people who have schizophrenia find the support they need as well as understand what’s expected of them in the relationship. In addition to individual therapy, couples’ therapy can help both partners cope with the effects of schizophrenia on the relationship.
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