Nicole Higginbotham


Depending on the intensity of a person’s disorder, many individuals may have trouble communicating with others and holding conversations. It may be an even more demanding task for these individuals to maintain a successful lifestyle and become independent. It is not an impossible task, but it takes strong will and sometimes the proper medical care in order to accomplish this sense of independence. Schizophrenic clients also struggle with communication and independence. These symptoms of these two disorders are very similar. Diagnosing a client that shows a struggle with social issues and independence can be difficult, but it can be done.


Introduction of Symptoms

Schizophrenia is a mental disorder in which people affected by this disorder hear voices or hallucinate. People with this disorder may also show signs of having multiple personalities. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), there are both positive and negative symptoms associated with schizophrenia. The positive symptoms include: hallucinations, delusions, dysfunctional thoughts, and movement disorders. Negative symptoms include lack of pleasure in everyday activities, lack of hygiene, no facial movement, or lack of conversation. Also, schizophrenic clients exhibit more delusions and hallucinations in their thought processes.


Schizophrenia is usually diagnosed in a person’s early 20’s. No specific cause has been identified. However, it is common for the illness to run in families that have the illness. Prenatal complications also have been thought to be factors in schizophrenia. It is also thought that schizophrenia comes from an imbalance of neurotransmitters like dopamine and glutamate.


Schizophrenia isn’t always noticeable upon onset. There are three different phases: prodromal, active, and residual. These phases repeat throughout a person’s life in cycles. During the prodromal phase, the person starts to lose interest in things that he or she is normally interested in. The person also begins to withdraw from those close to him or her. People going through this phase may want to spend their days alone and may also take a greater interest in philosophy or religion. Once a person hit’s the plateau of this phase, he or she ends up in an active phase. During this phase, a person experiences delusions, hallucinations, and distorted thinking. The next phase that a person goes through is the residual phase. During this stage a person is even more reserved and begins to lose the ability to do the things that he or she normally did well. The only way to lessen the likelihood of these cycles is if a client takes his or her medication and pays attention to his or her symptoms, communicating them to his or her therapist before they progress.


Though medical care has improved and will improve as the years go by, the population of people in the United States affected by schizophrenia need more than one treatment to maintain their incurable condition. “In the United States, schizophrenics account for about 25 per cent of all admissions to mental hospitals and occupy almost half the beds“ (Bellak, L., Lemkau, P. V., & Crocetti, G. M. , 1958). According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), schizophrenia affects 1 percent of the population of the United States and Europe. There is more than one treatment for schizophrenia as it is a lifelong disorder. Treatments are directed towards easing the symptoms that people with this disorder have, so that their condition doesn‘t progressively worsen. NIMH recommends that people with this disorder are treated with antipsychotic medication along with some sort of therapy program. Psychosocial treatments, illness management, rehabilitation, family education, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and self-help groups are all options for people with schizophrenia. “People with schizophrenia can [also] get help from professional case managers and caregivers at residential or day programs” (NIMH, 2011).

Antipsychotic medication is usually used in helping patients with schizophrenia. These medications ease irritation that the patient may be feeling and help the hallucinations that this patient may be having disappear. The NIMH states that these medications can help patients adapt better as long as they are used correctly and prescribed by a doctor. These medications do not make the disorder go away, but they are shown to ease the symptoms of schizophrenia within six weeks of taking the medication. “Antipsychotic medications have been repeatedly shown to be effective for the treatment of acute psychosis and the prevention of relapse for persons suffering from schizophrenia“ (Bustillo, J. R., Lauriello, J., Horan, W. P., & Keith, S. J., 2011).

Psychosocial treatments may also be used to help people with schizophrenia. Psychosocial treatment is given in correlation with the patient taking their medication. This type of treatment helps regulate the patient’s day-to-day life, by focusing the counseling on the patient’s social interaction and their difficulties coping with the everyday changes in life. “Patients who receive regular psychosocial treatment also are more likely to keep taking their medication, and they are less likely to have relapses or be hospitalized” (NIMH, 2011). Psychosocial treatment also improves a patient’s illness management skills by teaching them how to overcome the day-to-day barriers in their occupational, educational, financial, and social lives presented by their condition. Rehabilitation programs like job counseling or tutoring may also coincide with psychosocial treatments, allowing the patient the resources necessary to maintain his or her lifestyle.

Family education and self-help groups are also important when dealing with schizophrenia. Family education helps the patient’s family better understand his or her condition and better empathize with what he or she is going through. Self-help groups can help the patient understand that he or she isn’t the only person faced with this condition and that others go through similar obstacles in their day-to-day lives. These groups can also help family members learn how to deal with certain situations that may arise due to this condition. “On average, relapse rates among schizophrenic patients whose treatment involves family therapy are approximately 24 percent as compared to about 64 percent among those who receive routine treatment” ( Bustillo, J. R., Lauriello, J., Horan, W. P., & Keith, S. J., 2011).

Cognitive-behavioral therapy has also been shown as an effective way to help with the symptoms of schizophrenia. This type of treatment helps patients ignore hallucinations and manage the symptoms of schizophrenia better so that they can maintain better social relationships with other. NIMH states that this type of therapy helps prevent relapse and even works to maintain symptoms that are not maintained by antipsychotic medication.

There are several different methods that need to be utilized when helping individuals with schizophrenia. In order to maintain their mental health, antipsychotic are needed to ease the stress and hallucinations that come with this disorder. Psychosocial therapy is needed so that the patient stays focused on his or her occupational, financial, and educational lives. Also, this type of therapy teaches a person to work with the barriers that his or her condition triggers. Family education therapy is needed to help the patient’s loved ones understand his or her condition and adapt. Self-help groups help the patient with schizophrenia “fit-in” by allowing him or her to talk to individuals that are going through the similar, if not the same, problems that they are, and cognitive-behavioral therapy helps an individual work with his or her mental outlook regarding schizophrenia.


Bellak, L., Lemkau, P. V., & Crocetti, G. M. (1958). Vital Statistics of Schizophrenia (pp. 64-81). Oxford, England: Logos. Retrieved October 28, 2011, from

Bustillo, J. R., Lauriello, J., Horan, W. P., & Keith, S. J. (2011). The Psychosocial Treatment of Schizophrenia: An Update (pp. 163-175). N.p.: American           Psychiatric Association. Retrieved October 28, 2011, from   

Childhood Trauma and PTSD. (n.d.). In Talk Therapy Television. Retrieved October 17,   2011, from–      mental-health-awareness-day.html

Coon, D., & Mitterer, J. O. (2010). Introduction to Psychology: Gateways to Mind and      Behavior (12th ed., pp. 482-483). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

National Institute of Mental Health. (2011). What is Schizophrenia?. In Schizophrenia.     Retrieved October 28, 2011, from

Rabiner, David. Behavioral Disorders that Often Co-occur with ADHD. Archive    retrieved from: (2010). What Causes Schizophrenia?. In Schizophrenia Information.   Retrieved October 28, 2011, from

Torrey, E. F., & Yoken, R. H. (2003). Toxoplasma gondii and Schizophrenia (11th ed.,     Vol. 9). N.p.: Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved October 28,        2011, from


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