Psychotic disorders (including schizophrenia) are severe, chronic and sometimes disabling brain diseases. They often cause individuals to become extremely fearful and withdrawn from both their families and the rest of the world. They may even appear bizarre or frightening to other people. For individuals with schizophrenia or a psychotic disorder, an independent lifestyle can be problematic, and maintaining relationships with family and loved ones is often difficult. Sufferers usually cannot maintain employment and can end up on the fringes of society because they do not seek help. Though we don’t yet know what causes schizophrenia, studies show that genetic factors can play into the development of schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders, and those with a family history of psychotic disorders are more likely to develop one.
Symptoms of psychotic disorders include:
Hearing things that aren’t there
Lack of emotions
False belief that others are trying to harm you or those you love
Unexplained childlike behavior
Rigid muscle posture
Delusions or false, irrational beliefs
Strange or catatonic (statue-like) behavior
Limited emotional expression, such as a flat or blunt facial expression
Schizophrenia is a specific type of psychotic disorder that can be further categorized into subtypes, such as paranoid, disorganized or catatonic.
Individuals with paranoid schizophrenia will display a preoccupation with delusions (both auditory and visual) or extremely realistic hallucinations. Disorganized schizophrenia is noted by inexplicable and disorganized speech or behavior. Catatonic schizophrenia can feature symptoms such as sudden immobility, a strange physical rigidity or bizarre movements.
Currently, available treatments can provide relief. However, most people with psychotic disorders continue to suffer from some symptoms throughout their lives. Psychotic disorders, including schizophrenia, represent a serious mental health diagnosis.
The barriers created by these disorders will affect all aspects of a person’s life. Many treatment programs focus on brief, crisis-oriented approaches, but the Brook haven program offers treatment resources as well as coping behaviors for the individual throughout all phases of their illness, not just the worst parts.