10 Surprising Myths About Schizophrenia

myths about schizophrenia

 

Split personalities. Violent behavior. Lifelong hospitalization. These are things that often come to mind when people think about schizophrenia. But they are myths, just some of many misconceptions that are associated with one of the most misunderstood mental health conditions. These myths contribute to the stigma attached to this psychiatric disorder.

 

Split personalities. Violent behavior. Lifelong hospitalization. These are things that often come to mind when people think about schizophrenia. But they are myths. Click To Tweet

Here are 10 of the most common myths about schizophrenia.

Myth #1. Schizophrenia is extremely rare.

In fact, schizophrenia is a chronic brain disorder that affects approximately 1% of the population or about 2 million people, making it about as common as obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Schizophrenia can affect people from all walks of life, regardless of ethnicity, gender, income, or education level.

Myth #2. People with schizophrenia have split personalities.

Schizophrenia involves several complex symptoms—such as hallucinations, distorted thinking, and delusions—but having multiple personalities is not one of them. Part of the reason why this myth persists is because the origin of the word “schizo” literally means “split.” But it does not refer to alternate personalities, but rather to a split between reality and delusions.

Myth #3. All schizophrenics are violent and dangerous.

In the movies, people with schizophrenia are sometimes portrayed as homicidal maniacs or as abusive monsters, which reinforces the myth that these people are violent. In reality, these negative portrayals add to the stigma surrounding this condition, according to a 2016 review of exaggerations and stereotypes of the disorder in movies.

Myth #4. Sudden onset of symptoms.

Many people believe that schizophrenia comes on suddenly, causing a dramatic shift in an individual’s mood and comportment. In truth, schizophrenia develops over time with signs and symptoms arising gradually. For example, a person may begin having a flat emotional tone, withdrawing from regular activities, or self-isolating. In some cases, a major life stressor such as moving or starting college may trigger a psychotic episode.

Myth #5. Schizophrenia is untreatable and long-term hospitalization is the only solution.

This is one of the most harmful myths about this condition because it prevents some people and their families from seeking treatment. Statistics show that only one-third of individuals with this mental health disorder receive treatment. And although some individuals may benefit from inpatient care, others see significant improvement in their symptoms with other types of treatment, including medication, psychotherapy, dietary changes, nutritional supplements, stress-reduction strategies, and more.

Myth #6. Parents are to blame.

The notion that moms and dads cause schizophrenia with improper parenting is false. There is no scientific evidence that subpar parenting triggers this brain disorder.

Myth #7. Genetics dictates if you’ll get schizophrenia.

Schizophrenia tends to run in families and experts believe there is a genetic component to the condition. However, even if you have a family member who struggles with the condition, it doesn’t mean you’re doomed to have it too. By taking care of your brain health and mental well-being, you can reduce your chances of developing it similar to the way you can avoid a hereditary heart condition by following a healthy lifestyle.

Myth #8. Substance use has nothing to do with schizophrenia.

A growing body of research suggests that using psychoactive drugs, such as marijuana, is associated with an increased risk of developing schizophrenia. One well-known Swedish study in the journal Lancet that followed close to 50,000 young soldiers found that those who used cannabis were more than twice as likely to become schizophrenic compared with those who didn’t smoke marijuana. In addition, a 2018 study in Schizophrenia Research shows that people with schizophrenia are more likely to struggle with substance abuse than those who don’t have a mental health disorder. And substance use disorders worsen symptoms.

Myth #9. Symptoms of schizophrenia can’t be caused by biological factors.

This myth can have devastating consequences and can make people suffer needlessly for years or even decades. Increasingly, the neuropsychiatrists and functional medicine physicians at Amen Clinics have seen that infections, autoimmune diseases, and other biological factors can produce symptoms typically seen in schizophrenia. For example, hundreds of people have come to the Amen Clinics with psychiatric symptoms or cognitive issues that weren’t responding to treatment and tested positive for Lyme disease. With proper treatment, their symptoms improved significantly. In 2017, scientists from Australia and China reviewed 8 clinical trials using the antibiotic minocycline, also used to treat Lyme disease, as an add-on treatment for schizophrenia, concluding it was significantly helpful for both positive symptoms (such as delusions, hallucinations, and agitation) and negative symptoms (decreased motivation, social withdrawal, lethargy). In a “lifelong” psychiatric illness such as schizophrenia, it’s important to rule out infectious diseases and autoimmune disorders as causes for your symptoms.

Myth #10. Schizophrenia is the same for everyone.

Brain imaging studies reveal that schizophrenia is not one thing. A 2020 analysis of 307 brain scans in the journal Brain revealed 2 distinct subtypes of schizophrenia based on brain activity. In this study, one subtype was associated with decreased overall gray matter volume, and the other subtype showed increased volume in an area called the striatum. The researchers suggest that using the same treatment plan for all people with the condition may not be the best approach. Although the traditional psychiatric field is hailing this analysis as a revolutionary finding, the concept is not new.

In fact, Amen Clinics, which has built the world’s largest database of brain scans related to behavior (over 160,000 brain scans from 150 countries), has been sharing this message for 30 years. The brain imaging work at Amen Clinics clearly shows that mental health conditions are not single or simple disorders; they all have multiple types. Taking a one-size-fits-all approach to treatment will never work. What works for one person with schizophrenia (or any other psychiatric condition) may not work for another and could even make them worse. Understanding your own underlying brain function is critical to getting the right treatment plan.

Schizophrenia, psychosis, anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues can’t wait. During these uncertain times, your mental well-being is more important than ever and waiting until life gets back to “normal” is likely to make your symptoms worsen over time.

At Amen Clinics, we’re here for you. We offer in-clinic brain scanning and appointments, as well as mental telehealth, remote clinical evaluations, and video therapy for adults, children, and couples. Find out more by speaking to a specialist today at 888-288-9834 or visit our contact page here.

33 Comments

  1. This is a great article. I like many of your articles, but this one is particularly good. Thanks very much.

    Comment by Ken Lapp — February 12, 2021 @ 3:11 AM

  2. Now that I read the comment I just left it looks like so much spam I’ve seen. So I need to say that I appreciated the information about schizophrenia being as common as OCD, that schizophrenics don’t have split personalities, are not dangerous, that parents are not necessarily to blame, and that marijuana can lead to schizophrenia. I love the work you are doing at Amen Clinics and hope to visit your Seattle location soon.

    Comment by Ken Lapp — February 12, 2021 @ 3:22 AM

  3. My fiance had schizophrenia. He was a compassionate man w/ a great sense of humor + we loved each other very much . He died of a rapid pulmonary embolism at only 44 years . This had nothing to do w/ his mental illness . I miss him every day . His father + brother had schizophrenia also .

    Comment by Dianne Wilber — February 12, 2021 @ 3:36 AM

  4. I have some BRAIN PAIN
    SCHIZOPHRENIA
    STROKE
    SEIZURE
    Is there any thing I could do it SOUND HEALING or MEDITATIONS MIRACLES??

    Comment by Steven — February 12, 2021 @ 5:22 AM

  5. Or a PRAYERS MEDITATIONS MIRACLES

    Comment by Steven — February 12, 2021 @ 5:25 AM

  6. My son has been struggling for a long time!! He’s not a fan of medication he’s 26 and he still is living with me. It’s getting unbearable! He’s such a sweetheart! He can’t get out of his own way. Help!!!

    Comment by Gwen Cyrul — February 12, 2021 @ 5:29 AM

  7. Thank you for this article, it truly open up my eyes in lots of ways. I have to read it one more time in order to open up some of the links; but, I am happy that I did read what I could today an give a shout out to the writer. Very hopeful and encouraging. Thanks again 😐

    Comment by Miche Bonner — February 12, 2021 @ 5:42 AM

  8. My son has a condition called Fahr’s disease which I believe has caused his rapidly declining mental condition (including the Dx of paranoid schizophrenia and severe bipolar) Has anyone there at the Amen Clinic had any success treating a patient with this condition?

    Comment by Andrea — February 12, 2021 @ 7:35 AM

  9. I wonder if the Swedish study distinguished correlation from causation? I’ve noticed that the kids that don’t quite fit in, or don’t feel like they fit in, are more likely to use illicit substances either because it physically makes them feel better, or emotionally makes them feel better. Perhaps that niggling “off” feeling is the sensation of the beginnings of undiagnosed schizophrenia, not to mention adhd, mild autism, anxiety, etc.

    Comment by Lawren — February 12, 2021 @ 8:12 AM

  10. I suspect one of my adult children has schizophrenia. What should I do?

    Comment by Lauri — February 12, 2021 @ 8:29 AM

  11. Hello Lauri, thank you for reaching out. We’d be happy to contact you directly with additional information regarding schizophrenia. We look forward to speaking with you.

    Comment by Amen Clinics — February 12, 2021 @ 9:52 AM

  12. We have a daughter with mental disorder,possible schizophrenia with an IQ 65 and we want to come at Your clinic for a cheking. Thank you.

    Comment by Virginia Vlada — February 12, 2021 @ 9:55 AM

  13. Hello Andrea, thank you for reaching out. We’d be happy to contact you directly with additional information. We look forward to speaking with you.

    Comment by Amen Clinics — February 12, 2021 @ 9:56 AM

  14. Hello Gwen, thank you for reaching out. We’d be happy to contact you directly with additional information. We look forward to speaking with you.

    Comment by Amen Clinics — February 12, 2021 @ 9:58 AM

  15. Hello Virginia, thank you for reaching out. We’d be happy to contact you directly with additional information. We look forward to speaking with you.

    Comment by Amen Clinics — February 12, 2021 @ 10:02 AM

  16. Once again I repeat over and over again your prices are so high only the rich can afford them. So you’re not helping the matter. So can you please extend a helping hand to people who cannot afford your high prices. Or don’t have out standing credit.

    Comment by Barbara — February 12, 2021 @ 10:27 AM

  17. I’d like to have a consultation please regarding my son and I have sent a message via the website. I’d be grateful for a call back. Best regards, Maria

    Comment by Maria — February 12, 2021 @ 12:36 PM

  18. Could you please talk about paranoia or paranoid personality disorder? My mom has extreme paranoia and is in complete denial that she has a mental health issue. It has ruined her marriage be and is affecting other relationships.
    Thank you

    Comment by Linda — February 12, 2021 @ 12:42 PM

  19. My 31 yr old son has schizophrenia and Tourette’s. He smoked marijuana that sent him to a hospital. The first three yrs was terrible. Hospital to treatment center, when available, to group homes and finally to my house. I had such a hard time accepting the diagnosis. Still am. I’ve learned to let go of the things I have no control over. I was interested in seeing a map of the US where Lymes disease and a map of people with schizophrenia are prevalent. They are like an exact match throughout the US. My son contracted Lymes disease when quite little. He also caught a parasite/s from the Appalachian Trail. Do you have any research on that?

    Comment by Nancy T — February 12, 2021 @ 4:45 PM

  20. Our 34 year old daughter suffers from paranoid schizophrenia. WShe still lives with her father, nextdoor. Her bizarre behavior is difficult to watch, much less to live with. She refuses our support/help, especially mine. Is there some way we can help her, as well as ourselves. We need info as well. Thanks for this enlightening article which prompted me to contact you.

    Comment by Phyllis G Farris — February 12, 2021 @ 5:24 PM

  21. Amen Clinics saved my daughter’s life. She was MISdiagnosed by the largest HMO in Northern California as a paranoid schizophrenic. The root cause was Lyme disease. By the grace of God, her life has completely been restored.

    Comment by Debra Gutierrez — February 12, 2021 @ 7:02 PM

  22. My son will be 26 in June. He is diagnosed schizoaffective. He’s living with me. It is extremely challenging. Sometimes I wish he had a girlfriend that inspired him to stay on the program. He is loving and compassionate and living in his own world. And he’s really brilliant and so loved by many, but many don’t know how to be around him like this. I believe in him still, and keep fighting for his success. It’s a heartbreaker. The last person anyone would think would have this condition…he was the all star kid, Eagle scout, athlete, handsome…the world was his oyster. Shocking reality, for almost 4 years now. Thanks for everything you do. I wish I had the funds to scan his brain!!

    Comment by Heidi — February 12, 2021 @ 8:04 PM

  23. Interested article but I am wondering the percentage of people who do not fit in your article. My brother has been diagnosed, for 40 years with paranoid schizophrenia. It developed when he was 12 yrs old until he had a psychotic episode at 18. He has been treated with multiple different drugs, psychotherapy, hospitalizations for years. He gets stabilized then returns to delusions, paranoia, physical threats of violence, etc…It has been an emotional rollercoaster for him and our family. So glad to hear not all people with schizophrenia are like my brother.

    Comment by Kimberlee — February 13, 2021 @ 7:08 AM

  24. I have an adult son hospitalized in a state mental hospital. I am wondering if there is hope for him when he is released. Can Amen clinics help in any way?

    Comment by Sue — February 13, 2021 @ 11:49 AM

  25. Great article!! Wish we could continue to remove the stigma associated with this illness .

    Comment by Dorothy — February 13, 2021 @ 4:28 PM

  26. My 36 year old son was diagnosed as schizoaffective and Bipolar type II two years ago. This article was very helpful, it has been hard for me to educate myself on how to help him best. stress definitely triggers him towards depression episodes. Finding any help for him has been heartbreaking as there doesn’t appear to be resources. Just learning what this diagnosis really means has been challenging. Thank you for making this article available.

    Comment by Sharon — February 14, 2021 @ 9:15 AM

  27. Hello,
    My son has been diagnosed with Skitzoeffective Disorder. I would like to bring him to your clinic for evaluation. Can you please contact me?

    Thank you so much!

    Comment by Corinne — February 14, 2021 @ 8:37 PM

  28. Hello Maria, thank you for reaching out. We’d be happy to contact you directly with additional information. We look forward to speaking with you.

    Comment by Amen Clinics — February 15, 2021 @ 9:34 AM

  29. Hello Sue, thank you for reaching out. We’d be happy to contact you directly with additional information. We look forward to speaking with you.

    Comment by Amen Clinics — February 15, 2021 @ 9:37 AM

  30. Hello Corinne, thank you for reaching out. We’d be happy to contact you directly with additional information regarding appointments with one of our clinics. We look forward to speaking with you.

    Comment by Amen Clinics — February 15, 2021 @ 9:38 AM

  31. Hello Nancy. We have several other blogs and information on Lyme disease on our website. Hopefully this can help you find what you’re looking for: https://www.amenclinics.com/?s=lyme

    Comment by Amen Clinics — February 15, 2021 @ 10:28 AM

  32. Hello Thanks for the article. I wish I could obtain assistance. It is really difficult to observe people one love suffering from this illness without being able to do something. Please come to Jamaica! Many of us need your help.

    Comment by Delrose Braham — February 18, 2021 @ 5:04 AM

  33. Hello Delrose, thank you for reaching out. We’d be happy to contact you directly with additional information. We look forward to speaking with you.

    Comment by Amen Clinics — February 18, 2021 @ 9:57 AM

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