Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Schizophrenia in Children

Schizophrenia is a mental disease that causes people to have strange thoughts, feelings and behavior. There is no known cause for schizophrenia. It is a lifelong disease that with treatment can allow a person to function better. For adults the disease affects 1 in 100, however fortunately for children, which is a rare case, schizophrenia affects about 1 in 40,000 children.

Although the average age of onset for the disease is 18 for men and 25 for women; some children could get schizophrenia over the age of five, but it is very uncommon before adolescence. Early symptoms and behaviors of schizophrenia in children are gradual shyness, clinging to parents, and delayed speech and motor skills, usually before hallucinations and delusions set in, around the age of seven or later.

Children with schizophrenia are commonly confused with children with autism, which affects 1 in 500 children. The difference is children with autism are usually diagnosed with the disease by age three, while children with schizophrenia do not show signs of schizophrenia until about age seven or later, but before the age of 12; and have a history of hallucinations and delusions for about six months. It is harder to treat schizophrenia in children than in adults, however newer medications seem to help.

Symptoms of schizophrenia takeover the life of the child and are not seen only in one environment such as at school. If children show any interest in friendships, even if they do not keep them, they probably do not have schizophrenia.

The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry write Facts for Families and there is an article, "Schizophrenia in Children," that explains the symptoms and behaviors of children with schizophrenia which may slightly differ from adults with the illness. They are as follows:

  • seeing things and hearing voices which are not real (hallucinations),
  • odd and eccentric behavior, and/or speech,
  • unusual or bizarre thoughts and ideas,
  • confusing television and dreams from reality,
  • confused thinking,
  • extreme moodiness,
  • ideas that people are out to get them or talking about them, (paranoia)
  • severe anxiety and fearfulness,
  • difficulty relating to peers, and keeping friends.
  • withdrawn and increased isolation,
  • decline in personal hygiene
A parent would usually discover their child has these symptoms by a school teacher. If a parent thinks their child may have schizophrenia they should get a referral from a pediatrician to a child psychiatrist for diagnosis, therapy, and treatment.


Monday, December 22, 2008

Gender DIfferences in Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a serious mental disease that affects a person's perspective of reality, emotional response, and cognitive skills. This disease is known for hallucinations, delusions, social isolation, and trouble concentrating. Although schizophrenia affects men and women equally there are some gender differences that should be acknowledged.

Several studies indicate that the mental illness affects males sooner than females by about three to four years. Males commonly develop schizophrenia between the ages of 15 and 25, while the illness affects females between the ages of 15 and 30, and a smaller group between ages 45 and 50. In the earlier stages of the disease men seem to have it more severely than women. This may be the result of estrogen because women develop the hormone during puberty. Estrogen acts like an anti psychotic for women delaying the onset of the diseases and its severity. However, after menopause estrogen levels decrease, and women seem to experience the disease more severely than men. It seems that men display more negative symptoms or they isolate themselves from people, show lack of motivation, and have a reduction of emotional responsiveness and speech. Whereas women display more affective symptoms or lack of agreement between mood, emotion, and behavior. Women also show more auditory hallucinations and persecutory delusions.

Again the differences between men and women in schizophrenia is the age of onset of the illness. Estrogen is believed to be the hormone responsible for delaying the severity of the disease in women along with the age difference of about three to four years after men. Women respond better to the affect of schizophrenia in the earlier stages, however they do not respond well after menopause. Men display more negative symptoms while women show more auditory hallucinations, persecutory delusions, and affective symptoms.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Families Need Support Too

Not only does the person living with a mental illness need support but the family of the patient need support too. In my opinion, the family needs support especially in the early stages of diagnosis. Support could be sharing personal stories, gathering advice on how to cope with schizoprhenia, and networking with other families who has a member with schizophrenia.

While I was going through my episode my family played an intricate part in my recovery. My mother visited me everyday in the hospital and in jail. Again, I went to jail for stealing a military truck while having a psychotic break.

Although difficult to do, my family had the judge mandate medication compliance, because I was not eating, bathing, or speaking to anyone my illness had taken over. My mother had the support of my step-father, family, and her girlfriend, Botaya, who was a probation officer, and had experience in the mental health department. Botaya directed my mother through the steps to encourage my attorney to enable the judge to mandate that I take medication.

The diagnosis was hard on my family. I was shocked at the thought of having a mental disability too, and I did not want to take medication. My mother and other members of my family did not know what to do. So, my mother and sister attended National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) meetings and groups offered by the hospital I was staying in.

Here are some schizophrenia support groups that you could check out:
  • Recovery International at http://www.recovery-inc.org/index.html Recovery International is a Chicago-based self-help non-profit, non-sectarian, mental health organization that was founded in 1937.
  • SchizophreniaConnection.Com http:/www.healthcentral.com/schizophrenia/support-groups.html SchizophreniaConnection.com is a blog that offers support and advice for people living with schizophrenia and for people that have family and friends living with schizophrenia
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness at http://www.nami.org Founded in 1979, NAMI is the nation's largest grassroots organization for people living with a mental illness and their families.
Now I work closely with the neighborhood mental health clinic, NAMI chapter, and SchizophreniaConnection.com blog with the support of family. I hope these resources were beneficial to you, if you have other support groups that you want me to list leave a comment with the website and a brief blurb about the group, and I will update this post with your support group.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

What's Up With You?

What's up with me, recently I am following through on Plan B by studying marketing at home. I picked up a book called Strategic Marketing by Douglas West, John Ford, and Essam Ibrahim. The book is going pretty well.

I've also applied for Medicaid, so I am waiting for approval so I can fill my perscription, until then, the doctor is giving me samples to hold me over.

I am starting to think about plans for next year. I want to start school this summer and start a part-time job in sales. I want to work to lead the life I used to live, when I was going to school and working. However, I am hesitant about getting the extra income because I don't want disability benefits to be cut. But maybe once I start working, I won't need SSI anymore.

My New Year's resolution is:
  • Pay off school debt in order to get official transcript
  • Start school this summer
  • Work part-time
  • Buy a car
  • Improve credit score
I had an eerie dream the other night, I dreamed I heard voices telling me to go away. It worried me in the dream because I thought that the medication was not working and I remember thinking I need to tell my doctor. Is it normal to dream of hearing of voices? Besides that dream I have not heard any voices or seen anything out of the norm.

What's new in your life? Do you have a New Year's resolution?

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