What is Schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a brain disorder that has affected people throughout history. About 1 percent of Americans have this illness.The symptoms of schizophrenia fall into three broad categories: positive symptoms, negative symptoms, and cognitive symptoms. Individuals with schizophrenia vary a lot in the number of symptoms they have. Some people have only a few symptoms; others have many symptoms.

What causes psychotic disorders?

Both genetics and the environment can play a role in whether or not someone develops a psychotic disorder. Psychosis does not discriminate – it affects people regardless of their s**, culture, race, educational background, and socioeconomic status.

How do I know if I am at-risk for developing a psychotic disorder?

There is no exact science to predicting who will develop a psychotic disorder but there are risk factors that can make it more likely:

•Family history of psychosis, particularly in first-degree relatives
•Adolescence and young adulthood

What are some early warning signs and/or symptoms of a psychotic disorder?

•Social withdrawal/isolation
•Decline in functioning at work or school
•Reduced concentration
•Decreased motivation
•Loss of energy to participate in activities
•D******** mood
•Sleep disturbance
•Reduction in personal hygiene

Can psychotic disorders be prevented?

Programs all around the world are researching this very question. Although there is no conclusive answer yet, there is more understanding about how to reduce individuals’ risk for developing psychosis.

How are psychotic disorders treated?

The majority of young people with a psychotic disorder will recover if they receive appropriate treatment. This does not mean they are “cured,” but that their symptoms are controlled, manageable, and/or minimized. Treatment often involves multiple facets to include antipsychotic medication, individual/family counseling, psychoeducation, and peer/community support.

Why is early detection and intervention so important?

Many individuals experiencing psychosis will wait several months or even years before seeking treatment for a number of reasons (i.e. the early signs/stages of the illness are often difficult to detect, belief that the symptoms will go away on their own, f***/stigma associated with mental health problems). However, the longer the illness goes untreated, the more severe its course may be. Many people with schizophrenia do not seek treatment until they have had severe symptoms for a long time, often up to two years. If treatments are started early in the course of the illness, they are likely to be more effective than if they are delayed. That is why seeking treatment at the earliest point possible is so important.

Why treatment?

This is a time of hope for people with schizophrenia. Although the exact causes of the disease have not yet been determined, current treatments can eliminate many of the symptoms and allow people with schizophrenia to live independent and fulfilling lives in the community.

How does one receive services with the Prevention and Early Intervention Program at the DeKalb Community Service Board?

If you are experiencing an emergency dial 911. For access to mental health services call the Georgia Crisis & Access Line (GCAL) at 1-800-715-4225. To request information and discuss possible referral to the Prevention and Early Intervention Program email: PEIPreferral@dekcsb.org for more information.

What Families Can Do to Help?

The symptoms of schizophrenia are complex and sometimes difficult to understand. Families can help individuals get an expert evaluation as soon as symptoms appear – this is key to getting the proper help and getting it as soon as possible. Family support is crucial to ensuring individuals with schizophrenia get a proper evaluation and appropriate treatment.