Antipsychotics cause laziness

AT: Myths About Schizophrenia

Around 1% of the world's population will develop schizophrenia during their lifetime. The disease usually occurs for the first time in young adulthood. For those affected, reality and fiction become blurred, one's own ego is experienced as alien, perception is distorted and thinking changes. Everyday life is often perceived as a conspiracy and a threat. Delusions, persecution fears, hallucinations and anxiety are typical symptoms. Nevertheless: every schizophrenia illness is different; the spectrum ranges from a one-off psychotic episode to severe, chronic illnesses. But all schizophrenia sufferers have one thing in common: In addition to the disease itself, they - and mostly their relatives as well - suffer from ignorance and misconceptions about the disease. "World Schizophrenia Day on May 24th is a good occasion to clear up the most common myths about this disease," said Univ.-Prof. Dr. Johannes Wancata, Head of the Clinical Department for Social Psychiatry at MedUni Vienna.

Myth 1: Schizophrenia is a split in personality.
Not correct!The fact is: This myth of a split personality à la Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde are due to purely literary imagination and Hollywood films, according to the Viennese social psychiatrist Prof. Wancata: “People with schizophrenia do not suffer from a split into several personalities, as is the case with the extremely rare multiple personality disorder. But they can suffer from a multitude of symptoms that suddenly make them appear strange and unpredictable to those around them. "

Incidentally, it is also very similar to those affected: What was previously familiar can suddenly become incomprehensible and perceived as a threat due to the illness, even one's own self.

Myth 2: Once psychosis - always schizophrenic.
Not correct! The fact is: the one-time experience of a psychosis with hallucinations, anxiety states, as well as thought and perception disorders does not mean that you will suffer from schizophrenia for the rest of your life. Wancata: “In 20 to 30% of people, this phase passes and it remains as a singular event. In 30 to 40% of the time, there will be recurrences in the course of life, i.e. relapses into a psychotic phase. And in 20 to 30% the disease takes a chronic course. "

Incidentally, the severity of the symptoms in the initial psychosis does not allow any prognostic statements, i.e. it does not say anything about how the disease will develop further.

Myth 3: There is nothing you can do about schizophrenia.
Not correct! The fact is: Schizophrenia can even be treated very well today, even if it is not yet curable in the chronic course. Wancata: “There is no getting around consistent, continuous drug treatment. Modern antipsychotics have far fewer side effects than first-generation psychotropic drugs. They can also be administered in the form of depot preparations, which means that they do not have to be taken daily and a continuous release of active ingredients is guaranteed over a period of weeks. "

However, drug treatment must be combined with an individually tailored combination of psychotherapy, sociotherapy and other therapeutic methods such as occupational therapy, etc.

Myth 4: Schizophrenia is caused by poor parenting.
Not correct! The fact is: Neither parents nor other family members are to be blamed for the development of the disease. Wancata: “It is a grave mistake to blame upbringing. That is complete nonsense. "

But it is important that parents and relatives learn to deal with the disease. Wancata compares schizophrenia with a physical illness: “If, for example, diabetes is diagnosed in a child or adolescent, the family must cook in such a way that both the diabetic and the other family members are well looked after. If a family member suffers from schizophrenia, the others must, for example, learn the communication style that is appropriate for a person suffering from schizophrenia. "

Myth 5: Schizophrenia sufferers are dangerous and commit violent acts.
Not correct! The fact is: the vast majority of people with schizophrenia are neither dangerous nor violent. Only a very small proportion of those affected tend to be violent. These are often people who also suffer from other illnesses such as alcohol or drug addiction. Far more often than they are perpetrators, people with schizophrenia are victims of violence themselves. Wancata: "Unfortunately, schizophrenia sufferers are repeatedly the target of violent attacks due to clumsiness in behavior or in their communication."

Sufficient, continuous drug therapy that inhibits psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions and confusion of thoughts, combined with psychotherapy and sociotherapy, is also preventively effective with regard to possible violence and experience of violence.

By the way: In relation to the total population, the vast majority of acts of violence are committed by people who do not suffer from any mental illness.

Myth 6: people with schizophrenia are less intelligent.
Not correct! The fact is, people with schizophrenia are just as intelligent as the rest of the population - some more, some less. Schizophrenia does not lead to a decrease in intelligence.
If the disease has become chronic and those affected repeatedly suffer psychotic episodes, this can impair cognitive abilities such as attention or concentration. Therefore, continuous treatment that protects against relapse is important.

Myth 7: People with schizophrenia are lazy and don't want to work.
Not correct! The fact is: if someone is seriously ill, it does not matter whether it is a physical or mental illness. It's not about laziness or unwillingness. At times, the illness makes it difficult or impossible for the person affected to cope with everyday life on their own.

Wancata: “If someone is seriously and seriously ill, they cannot go to work for a while and will not be able to take care of themselves at home. Or a young person suffering from a chronic physical illness will, depending on the severity and severity of the illness, certainly need longer to complete their training. It is the same with schizophrenia. A person with schizophrenia cannot act like a healthy person. "

If a suitable drug treatment is started as soon as possible after the first onset of the disease and this is then continued consistently, there is a greater chance that people with schizophrenia will do everyday activities, take care of themselves and pursue leisure activities and, depending on the severity and severity of the disease, also complete training or be able to pursue employment.

Myth 8: People with schizophrenia belong permanent to a mental hospital.
Not correct! The fact is: people with schizophrenia can now spend more than 99% of their lives in private. They only have to be admitted to the hospital in a psychiatric ward if a severe acute psychosis occurs, because only here can they be adequately helped in this state of emergency. Wancata: "Continuous long-term therapy with modern antipsychotics helps to largely avoid such hospital stays, as it is suitable for reducing relapses in psychoses."

Myth 9: Psychiatric drugs are addictive.
Not correct! The fact is: psychotropic drugs are not addictive; they enable patients to spend their lives largely in private and reduce hospital stays to a minimum. Wancata: “There is no getting around them in the therapy of schizophrenia. Psychotherapy cannot replace medication and vice versa. Successful therapy requires both - in the form of regular specialist treatment. ”With modern antipsychotic drugs, which also have significantly fewer side effects than the older ones, the disease can be controlled much better today. They help prevent relapses - if they are taken continuously. Depot preparations that do not have to be taken daily, but are injected every several weeks are very helpful here. They support continuous long-term therapy and can save patients relapse into psychotic states with the associated hospital stays.

"But it is also important," emphasizes Wancata in conclusion, "that we also have sufficient treatment offers for these people in day care centers, in socio-psychiatric outpatient clinics, in rehabilitation facilities."

* For reasons of better legibility, gender-based spelling has not been used in the text. All terms apply to both women and men.