I focus this blog mostly on my experience, which means mostly focusing on depression and anxiety. Yet since this is International Schizophrenia Awareness Day, it seems right to talk about schizophrenia.
Schizophrenia, like so many illnesses, struggles with funding issues. And like so many mental illnesses, schizophrenia struggles with overcoming stigma. People often seem to associate schizophrenia with violent behavior, but the truth is individuals with schizophrenia are more at risk to be homeless, commit suicide, or die early than other neurological disorders.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, schizophrenia is a mental disorder characterized by disruptions in thought processes, perceptions, emotional responsiveness, and social interactions that can present with symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions, and thought disorder (unusual ways of thinking), as well as reduced expression of emotions, reduced motivation to accomplish goals, difficulty in social relationships, motor impairment, and cognitive impairment. It is most often diagnosed anywhere between teens and the early thirties.
It is a disease the impacts just over one percent of the population and roughly 3.5 million Americans suffer from the disorder. Treatment and other economic costs due to schizophrenia are enormous, estimated by the Schizophrenia and Related Disorders Alliance of America (SARDAA) to be between $32.5 and $65 billion annually. Between one-third and one-half of all homeless adults have schizophrenia. Given these facts it is then not surprising that roughly 50 percent of people diagnosed with schizophrenia have received no treatment.
Because of the cost and stigma, there is a push to reclassify schizophrenia from a mental illness to a brain disorder. Doing so, advocates argue, would help combat the stigma, while opening up more money for research and treatment.
And maybe someday that will be the case, but in the mean time I think we can all do our part by learning a little more about the disease, and showing everyone kindness, since we might not know the battles they are fighting and the demons they may have in their world. Honestly, we can all do our part to shed some light on the dark tales of schizophrenia.