Struggling with Schizophrenia

What are the symptoms of schizophrenia?
No one symptom positively identifies schizophrenia. All of the symptoms of this illness can also be found in other mental illnesses. For example, psychotic symptoms may be caused by the use of illicit drugs, may be present in individuals with Alzheimer’s disease, or may be characteristics of a manic episode in bipolar disorder. However, when a doctor observes the symptoms of schizophrenia and carefully assesses the history and the course of the illness over six months, he or she can almost always make a correct diagnosis.

The symptoms of schizophrenia are generally divided into three categories: Positive, Negative, and Cognitive:

Positive Symptoms, or “psychotic” symptoms, include delusions and hallucinations because the patient has lost touch with reality in certain important ways. “Positive” refers to having overt symptoms that should not be there. Delusions cause individuals to believe that people are reading their thoughts or plotting against them, that others are secretly monitoring and threatening them, or that they can control other people’s minds. Hallucinations cause people to hear or see things that are not present.

Negative Symptoms include emotional flatness or lack of expression, an inability to start and follow through with activities, speech that is brief and devoid of content, and a lack of pleasure or interest in life. “Negative” does not refer to a person’s attitude but to a lack of certain characteristics that should be there.

Cognitive Symptoms pertain to thinking processes. For example, people may have difficulty with prioritizing tasks, certain kinds of memory functions, and organizing their thoughts. A common problem associated with schizophrenia is the lack of insight into the condition itself. This is not a willful denial but rather a part of the mental illness itself. Such a lack of understanding, of course, poses many challenges for loved ones seeking better care for the person with schizophrenia.

Schizophrenia also affects mood. While many individuals affected with schizophrenia become depressed, some also have apparent mood swings and even bipolar-like states.   When mood instability is a major feature of the illness, it is called schizoaffective disorder, meaning that elements of schizophrenia and mood disorders are prominently displayed by the same individual.   It is not clear whether schizoaffective disorder is a distinct condition or simply a subtype of schizophrenia.

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Our Services

C4 provides compassionate and effective treatment that includes a combination of the following treatments:
Medication evaluation and treatment.  There are several potentially effective medications that can help manage the symptoms of Schizophrenia.  Our C4 psychiatrists can prescribe necessary medication for each client, monitoring and educating clients with regard to effectiveness and side effects.  We also offer a weekly Clozaril clinic to monitor medication, and provide an opportunity for clients to socialize informally.
Case Management and Community Support Services.  C4 clients are assessed with regard to their need for an individual community support worker or for an entire team of support professionals.  Clients are educated about how to best cope with their illness and how to access important resources in the community.  Clients are actively assisted to function at their highest level in their home and community. 
Psychosocial Rehabilitation Services.  C4 clients may be part of therapeutic group services, where new skills are learned in a mutually supportive social environment.  Examples include life skills and socialization groups, yoga, journaling, exercise, cooking, dance, and more.
Supported Employment Services.  C4 clients are helped to find jobs in the community, regardless of limitations and challenges.
Weekly Medical Clinic.  C4 clients have access to physical exams and follow-up care.
For more information on C4 services, or to make an appointment, please call 773.769.0205.  Family members, friends and others concerned that someone may be suffering from schizophrenia are welcome to call with questions about the disease or C4 services.

Mental Health Problems

Schizophrenia is a serious and challenging medical illness that affects well over 2 million American adults, which is about 1 percent of the population age 18 and older.  Although it is often feared and misunderstood, schizophrenia is a treatable medical condition.
Schizophrenia often interferes with a person’s ability to think clearly, to distinguish reality from fantasy, to manage emotions, make decisions, and relate to others. The first signs of schizophrenia typically emerge in the teenage years or early twenties, often later for females. Most people with schizophrenia contend with the illness chronically or episodically throughout their lives, and are often stigmatized by lack of public understanding about the disease.
Schizophrenia is not caused by bad parenting or personal weakness. A person with schizophrenia does not have a “split personality,” and almost all people with schizophrenia are not dangerous or violent towards others while they are receiving treatment.
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