I watched a show on UCSD Television about schizophrenia. (Link here )
The professor giving the lecture was from UCLA (I think) and he was presenting his and other researcher’s findings. The two most interesting things he presented (in my opinion) were that schizophrenia is both a brain disease and on a spectrum similar to autism. The other most fascinating thing he discussed is the similarities between a brain with schizophrenia and a brain that does not have the disease (they called it a “normal” brain).
I was surprised to hear that schizophrenia is on a spectrum. I had heard that before (in fact one of the readers of this blog brought it up) but I didn’t know that it was starting to be established and accepted in the medical community. I think this is great news because it explains and helps people understand why schizophrenia looks different in different people.
The research that the doctors/scientists did on the normal brain and the brain that had schizophrenia showed them that there are several areas of a brain with schizophrenia that are severely disabled compared to a normal brain. For instance, the part that helps people determine facial expressions and the part that helps people determine social cues. But the brain with schizophrenia was a little better at one test, and the researcher said it is important to focus on the strengths of people with schizophrenia. I really appreciated that comment.
The presenter listed the diagnostic criteria for schizophrenia (of which you have to have two to have the illness). Some of the things on the list were delusions, hallucinations, disordered speech, disordered thought, and I think a couple of others. I have the delusions and hallucinations but not the disordered speech, and I don’t think I have the disordered thought.
The presentation was also about symptoms of schizophrenia, for example, lack of social motivation (which I definitely have) and the CDC (Center for Disease Control) just came out with a study that being lonely or socially isolated is more problematic to your health than smoking, obesity, and several other lifestyle issues.
I have been working on trying to be healthier for several months now, and I have changed my diet, started exercising more, keeping gratitude lists, upped my productivity, etc. but it looks like I am going to have to try to join a writer’s group, or make plans to see friends more often in order to really up my overall health.
The video is worth watching but of course, the part that overwhelmed me a little was how hard people with schizophrenia have to work just to have the same quality of life as someone without the illness. And even then, most of us have things we manage but do not overcome. As Kermit, the Frog would say, “It is not easy being green.”