Approximately 1 in 5 Americans are diagnosed with a mental illness in a given year.
Mental disorders are the leading cause of disability for adults ages 18 - 44 in the United States.
Schizophrenia is not split personality -- it’s a collection of symptoms that can include aural and visual hallucinations, delusions and disordered thinking.
Unlike diabetes, which is diagnosed according to insulin levels there is no medical test that confirms a physical condition called schizophrenia.
The primary treatment for schizophrenia is antipsychotic medication.
Antipsychotic drugs affect each person differently. Some people find meds very helpful, some function well without then, some find them impossible to live with.
Antipsychotic side effects can be significant, and can include weight gain, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, akathisia (restlessness), tardive dyskinesia, tiredness, emotional numbness, depression, panic attacks, aggression and violence.
Nearly three quarters of people prescribed antipsychotics for schizophrenia will stop taking them within 18 months mostly due to the side effects.
Studies show that short term psych meds can be helpful, but long term they can damage people’s functionality and independence.
More recent scientific studies show that Cognitive Behavioral Psychology and minimal psych drugs are the most effective treatment for most people.
Schizophrenia is not a “death sentence.”
50 - 60% of people diagnosed schizophrenic will recover completely or function well, i.e. have jobs and relationships throughout their life without meds or with baseline support.
15 - 20 % will require more extensive support.
20% will be significantly compromised by their condition.
Many people believe that those diagnosed schizophrenic are violent and that it’s only a matter of time before they explode. But most people diagnosed schizophrenic are less violent than the general population unless drugs and alcohol are involved.
A decision not to take prescribed medication is often interpreted as a sign of mental illness when it can actually be an informed decision.
Most states can force people diagnosed with severe mental illness to be medicated if they are believed to be a danger to themselves or others.
Dangerousness is difficult to predict.
The mental health rights movement came out in the 1970’s. It’s primary goal: to give a voice to those being treated. The disability rights slogan: “nothing about us without us.”
The lived experience of people diagnosed with mental disorders is vast, informative, inspirational & important.