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A person suffering from Schizophrenia Disorder can hear voices, see hallucinations, or believe a reality that is removed from the truth. With the correct treatment, the person with Schizophrenia Disorder can live a meaningful life.
 
Schizophrenia Disorder is a chronic, severe, and disabling brain disorder that has affected people throughout history. The effect that this disorder has on a person ranges from hearing voices other people can’t hear, to believing other people are reading their minds, controlling their thoughts, plotting to harm them, and more.
 
This can terrify people with the illness, and cause them to become withdrawn or extremely agitated. Many people with Schizophrenia Disorder have difficulty holding a job or caring for themselves, so they rely on others for help. However, many people living with Schizophrenia Disorder can lead rewarding and meaningful lives in their communities.
 

What are the signs & symptoms 
of Schizophrenia Disorder?

Schizophrenia is a mental illness that affects a person’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. The following are some of the symptoms of schizophrenia:

  • Hallucinations
  • Disorganised thinking
  • Thought blocking
  • Movement disorders
  • Lack of pleasure in everyday life
  • Lack of ability to begin and sustain planned activities
  • Speaking very little (even when forced to interact)
  • Poor “executive functioning” (the ability to understand information and use it to make decisions)
  • Trouble focusing or paying attention
  • Problems with “working memory”
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All of Papillon’s residents follow their own Individual Treatment Plan that is used to guide their progress through the three Rehabilitation Blocks: Self-System Development; Trauma Processing; and Reintegration. The result is a personalised and holistic approach to each of our residents’ mental recovery with the goal of sustainable reintegration at the end of their 3-month stay.
 
Because the causes of Schizophrenia Disorder are still unknown, treatments focus on eliminating the symptoms of the disease. Many treatments include antipsychotic medications and various psychosocial treatments.
 
At Papillon, we have a multidisciplinary team ready to help those suffering from Schizophrenia Disorder. Our programme emphasises social and vocational training to help people with the illness function better in their communities.
Because Schizophrenia Disorder usually develops in people during their critical career-forming years of life (ages 18 to 35), and because the disease makes normal thinking and functioning difficult, most patients do not receive training in skills needed for a job. Our programme includes job counselling and training, money management counselling, help in learning to use public transportation, and opportunities to practice communication skills. We have a 70% success rate because we include both job training and specific therapy designed to improve cognitive skills. Programmes like this help patients hold jobs, remember important details, and improve their executive functioning.
 
At Papillon, we also focus on family education as we believe that it is important for family members to know as much as possible about their loved one’s disease. With the help of one of our therapists, family members can learn coping strategies and problem-solving skills. In this way, the family can help ensure that their loved ones stick with the treatment plan and stay on their medication. Families should also learn where to find outpatient and family services.

What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a mental illness that affects a person’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. The following are some of the symptoms of schizophrenia:

 

Hallucinations

Hallucinations are sensory experiences that occur in the absence of any outside input. Because it shows a warped perspective of reality, it is a symptom of schizophrenia.

A person suffering from schizophrenia may hear voices that do not exist, see things that do not exist, or experience feelings that have no physical origin. It can be extremely distressing and perplexing for the person and can progress to additional symptoms such as delusions or paranoia.

 

Disorganized Thinking

Disorganised thinking impairs a person’s ability to generate cohesive thoughts and communicate effectively and can impair one’s ability to follow a logical flow of ideas or keep a consistent topic of conversation.

Disorganised speech, which may involve rambling, irrelevant, or incomprehensible words, phrases, or sentences, can indicate disorganised thinking.

 

Thought Blocking

Thought blockage is characterised by an abrupt interruption or cessation of the person’s train of thought.

The individual may stop speaking in the middle of a sentence, or they may lose track of what they were saying or thinking. It is a symptom of schizophrenia because it indicates an inability to sustain a cohesive and continuous flow of thought.

 

Movement Disorders

Movement disorders affect a person’s motor behaviour, such as posture, gestures, facial expressions, or motions.

It can range from very chaotic or abnormal behaviour like agitation, catatonia, or stereotypy to diminished or lack of movement. Movement abnormalities are a symptom of schizophrenia because they reflect a breakdown in the person’s coordination and regulation of physical activity.

 

Lack of Pleasure in Everyday Life

This involves a diminished or absent ability to experience pleasure or satisfaction from activities that are normally enjoyable or rewarding.

Also known as anhedonia, it can impair a person’s drive, interest, and participation in several parts of life, including job, hobbies, relationships, and self-care. A lack of enjoyment in daily life is a symptom of schizophrenia because it indicates a negative emotional state.

 

Lack of Ability to Begin & Sustain Planned Activities

This is characterised by a diminished or impaired capacity to initiate and complete tasks requiring planning, organisation, or goal-directed activity.

Also known as avolition, it can impair a person’s performance and productivity in a variety of domains, including education, occupation, and household. The inability to initiate and sustain planned actions is a hallmark of schizophrenia because it indicates a loss of will and agency.

 

Speaking Very Little Even When Forced to Interact

This involves little or no verbal communication, even when the person is urged or expected to speak.

Also known as alogia, it impairs a person’s capacity to express thoughts, feelings, or opinions, as well as engage in social engagement.

It is a hallmark of schizophrenia because it displays a lack of verbal fluency and responsiveness, which separates the person from others.

 

Poor Ability to Understand Information & Use It to Make Decisions

This is characterised by a reduced or impaired capacity to conduct higher-order cognitive activities required for complex and adaptive behaviour, such as attention, working memory, reasoning, problem-solving, decision-making, planning, and inhibition.

Poor executive functioning is a symptom of schizophrenia because it implies a decline in mental capacities.

 

Trouble Focusing or Paying Attention

A difficulty or inability to concentrate on a given task, stimulus, or source of information, or to switch attention between other tasks, stimuli, or sources of information, is a sign of schizophrenia because it indicates an impairment in the person’s attentional capacity and control.

Distraction, weariness, tension, or boredom can all contribute to difficulty focusing or paying attention.

 

Problems with “Working Memory”

This is a decreased or impaired ability to temporarily store and manage information relevant to a current task or goal.

Working memory allows people to perform mental activities including computation, understanding, reasoning, and problem-solving. These issues are symptoms of schizophrenia because they indicate a limitation in the person’s cognitive resources.

 

Schizophrenia Causes and Pre-Dispositions

Schizophrenia is a complex mental disorder that has no single cause. Research suggests that a combination of physical, genetic, psychological, and environmental factors can increase the risk of developing schizophrenia or trigger its onset in vulnerable people. Some possible causes of schizophrenia are:

 

Genetics

Schizophrenia runs in families, but no single gene is to blame. It is more plausible that certain gene combinations make people more prone to the illness. Having these genes, however, does not guarantee that one will develop schizophrenia.

 

Brain Structure & Function

Persons with schizophrenia have modest variations in the structure and function of their brains compared to people who do not have the disorder, according to studies.

These variations may include shrinkage of brain tissue, aberrant activity in specific brain regions, and disruption of brain cell connections. These modifications may have an impact on the balance and function of neurotransmitters, which are molecules that transport signals between brain cells.

Abnormal levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter involved in reward, motivation, and emotion, for example, may contribute to schizophrenia symptoms.

 

Pregnancy & Birth Complications

According to research, people who develop schizophrenia are more likely to have had difficulties during and before their birth, such as low birth weight, early labour, a lack of oxygen, or infection.

These problems may have an inadvertent effect on brain development, raising the likelihood of schizophrenia later in life.

 

Environmental Factors

Environmental factors may also influence the risk or start of schizophrenia, particularly in persons who are genetically susceptible or have brain abnormalities.

Stress, trauma, abuse, social isolation, drug use, or exposure to poisons or viruses are examples of such variables. These factors may cause or exacerbate schizophrenia symptoms by influencing brain development, function, or stress response.

 

Myths about Schizophrenia

Here are some common myths about schizophrenia that persist due to stereotypes, inaccurate media depictions, and a general lack of understanding about the condition.

It’s important to debunk these myths to reduce the stigma surrounding schizophrenia and to promote a more accurate understanding of this mental health condition:

 

Myth 1 – Schizophrenia Means Having Multiple Personalities

This myth may stem from the fact that the term “schizophrenia” translates to “split mind” in Greek.

Fact

Schizophrenia and dissociative identity disorder (DID) are two different conditions, as schizophrenia refers to a split from reality, while DID involves having several fragmented identities (split personalities). Schizophrenia is a chronic disorder that affects how a person thinks, feels, and acts and does not involve multiple personalities.

 

Myth 2 – Schizophrenia Looks the Same in Everyone

This myth may exist due to a lack of understanding about the complexity and variability of schizophrenia symptoms.

Fact

 Symptoms vary greatly among people with the condition. Some see or hear things that aren’t there (visual and auditory hallucinations), while others have difficulties paying attention, remembering information, and staying motivated.

People with schizophrenia may even experience different symptoms at different times, and the severity of the symptoms may vary among individuals or from episode to episode.

 

Myth 3 – People with Schizophrenia Are Dangerous

This myth is often perpetuated by media portrayals of individuals with schizophrenia but is false, as individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia alone and not a co-occurring condition, are unlikely to be violent or dangerous.

Fact

In many cases, individuals with schizophrenia live in special homes, with their family, or on their own if they are high-functioning. People with this condition may still exhibit unpredictable behaviour, however.

 

Early warning signs of Schizophrenia

The early warning signs of schizophrenia, also known as the prodromal stage, can vary depending on the individual and usually include:

  • Depression: Feelings of worthlessness, guilt, and social withdrawal.
  • Delusions: False beliefs in the absence of reality.
  • Expressionless gaze: Difficulty expressing feelings.
  • Inability to express feelings.
  • Confusing speech: Strange or intense thoughts and feelings.
  • Difficulty thinking clearly or concentrating.
  • Suspiciousness of or uneasiness with others (paranoia).

 

Negative Symptoms of Schizophrenia

Negative symptoms of schizophrenia refer to the absence of normal behaviours. The following symptoms associated with schizophrenia can cause significant challenges in daily life:

  • Avolition, or the severe lack of motivation. People with avolition might have trouble eating, showering, paying bills, buying groceries, or socializing with others. It might also be difficult to hold down a job due to the effort required to complete job-related tasks.
  • Anhedonia, or the lack of pleasure or ability to feel good, is a common negative symptom associated with schizophrenia.
  • The lack of interest in social interactions, where a person may have difficulty forming and maintaining relationships.
  • The Blunted Affect limits a person’s ability to convey his or her emotions, causing diminished facial and emotional expressions.
  • Alogia is the reduction in speech. People with alogia may have difficulty communicating their thoughts and carrying on a conversation.

 

How Schizophrenia is Diagnosed

Schizophrenia is diagnosed by medical professionals such as doctors and psychiatrists through a series of evaluations, tests, and screenings:

  1. A physical examination is done to help rule out other problems that could be causing symptoms and to check for any related complications.
  2. Tests and screenings to help rule out conditions with similar symptoms, and screening for alcohol and drugs. A doctor may also request imaging studies, such as MRI or CT scans.
  3. A psychiatric evaluation by a mental health professional by observing appearance and demeanour, and asking about thoughts, moods, delusions, hallucinations, substance use, and potential for violence or suicide.

A doctor or mental health professional will use the criteria published in reputable manuals of mental disorders to confirm a final diagnosis.

Not sure we can help you? Our elite team of psychiatrists, occupational therapists, nurses and facilitators are qualified to treat a range of mental illnesses. In fact, our programme has successfully helped people with:

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