Schizophrenia: An Overview
The Mayo Clinic defines schizophrenia as a serious mental disorder in which people experience abnormal interpretations of reality. Common schizophrenia signs and symptoms Los Angeles residents may experience include hallucinations, delusions, and disordered thinking, making functioning normally in the world difficult.
Globally, according to the World Health Organization, more than 2/3 of people experiencing psychosis do not receive proper mental health care. This is why Los Angeles mental health treatment centers offering specialized care for schizophrenia are so important. Fortunately, LA residents with this mental health disorder have access to Los Angeles treatment centers that can provide the correct therapeutic interventions and medications to help them cope with symptoms and live healthier, safer lives.
Recognizing the Early Signs and Symptoms
The primary schizophrenia symptoms are:
- Hallucinations: Seeing, hearing, smelling, or feeling things that are not there.
- Delusions: Believing things that are not true, even when presented with evidence contrary to their beliefs.
- Disorganized thinking: Jumbled up thoughts, with irrelevant speech and unpredictable “odd” behavior that may seem inappropriate or purposeless.
These signs of schizophrenia should be taken seriously. If you or a loved one is experiencing one or all of these symptoms, speaking with your healthcare provider or a mental health specialist in Los Angeles for a proper diagnosis is a good idea.
The Phases of Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia often (but not always) has a slow, gradual onset, making it less obvious to the person experiencing symptoms and those around them. There are three phases:
- Prodromal: in this phase of schizophrenia, a person may become withdrawn, lose interest in normal activities, become listless or apathetic, and may find themselves intensely focusing on one particular issue, like politics, religion, or celebrities. This phase is frustrating and confusing to loved ones, lasting for weeks, months, or years.
- Active: This acute phase usually accompanies psychosis, hallucinations, strange behaviors, jumbled thoughts and speech, and delusional thinking.
- Residual: After the active phase, the person may become listless and withdrawn again, with difficulties concentrating.
The Relevance of Schizophrenia in Los Angeles
Recognizing schizophrenia in Los Angeles is important, not only for healthcare providers but the community at large as well. The more we understand that people are not “crazy” or “dangerous” but are instead experiencing a treatable mental health disorder, the better their chances of getting the help they need. Los Angeles schizophrenia awareness starts with education, and we can begin by providing better training for recognizing the condition to teachers, doctors, law enforcement, etc.
- Many unhoused individuals in LA have serious mental health disorders like schizophrenia.
- A 2022 outreach study on homeless individuals in Los Angeles showed that 45% of black males, 38% of black females, 26% of Hispanic males, 31% of Hispanic females, 25% of white males, and 27% of white females had a psychotic spectrum disorder.
- A NAMI info sheet on Los Angeles residents showed that 1% of all city residents with a mental illness have been diagnosed with schizophrenia.
Causes and Treatment Options for Schizophrenia
The National Institute of Mental Health (NIH) lists the following as common schizophrenia causes and risk factors:
- Genetics, as this mental health disorder, can run in families. Although there is no “schizophrenia gene,” many different genes can increase the probability of a person developing the disorder.
- Brain structure, with certain sizes of brain areas and different connections, influences whether or not a person develops schizophrenia.
- Environment, life experiences, trauma, and stress impact those genetically predisposed to developing the disorder. Exposure to viruses and nutritional problems before birth can also play a part.
Schizophrenia treatment options include taking antipsychotic medications and/or clozapine, cognitive behavioral therapy, skills training programs, education on the disorder, and strong support and interventions during their everyday lives. For those with a co-occurring drug or alcohol use disorder, a dual-diagnosis treatment program can help them recover.
Seeking a Schizophrenia Diagnosis in LA
Some people will only go through one or two cycles of schizophrenia in their lives, while others may experience many. Each time, the residual phase will be more pronounced, making it more difficult to reintegrate back into normal life, which is why early treatment is always ideal.
Getting a schizophrenia diagnosis in LA is as simple as talking to a mental health professional. If you or a loved one have been experiencing any of the symptoms of schizophrenia or want to learn more about treatment, please call Alter Behavioral Health today. Our team can help you figure out what steps you can take to feel better and make sense of life again.
Frequently Asked Questions About Schizophrenia Signs and Symptoms in Los Angeles
What are the early signs of schizophrenia should Los Angeles residents be aware of?
Early signs of schizophrenia include despondency, obsession with one idea, lethargy, lack of interest in normal activities, and apathy.
How prevalent is schizophrenia in the Los Angeles community compared to other cities?
California is one of the states with the lowest instances of serious mental illness in the country, with around 3.79% of the population diagnosed with mental health disorders that affect their daily lives. LA is a bigger city than most, though, with a higher population than the average of unhoused individuals who are often on the streets due to mental health concerns, so the percentage is likely much higher than the state average.
Are specific facilities or clinics in LA recommended for schizophrenia diagnosis and treatment?
Yes, treating schizophrenia requires collaboration between the individual and the doctors, ongoing care and support, case management services, and various therapeutic interventions. Treatment centers like Alter Behavioral Health offer effective, evidence-based care to people with schizophrenia that can help them get their symptoms under control and live a healthier, normal life.
What local resources are available in Los Angeles for individuals and families with schizophrenia?
Contact the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health at (800) 854-7771 for mental health support, resources, and referrals. For a person in crisis, the option of going to a hospital emergency room or calling 911 is an option, especially if they are behaving in ways that could be life-threatening.
How can residents of Los Angeles support schizophrenia awareness and understanding within the community?
Residents can support the National Alliance for Mental Health (NAMI). This organization has a location in LA, providing support, resources, and education for families and community members of those with schizophrenia. They can also use their voting power to support those with better mental health policies and lobby local governments for better mental health resources and education.
On a smaller scale, residents can use word of mouth to educate others about schizophrenia, letting people know the truth about mental health issues and reducing the stigma surrounding them.
Are there particular triggers or environmental factors in Los Angeles that might exacerbate schizophrenia symptoms?
Financial stress, trauma, and poor nutrition can all contribute to the development of schizophrenia in individuals, all of which, on some level, are societal issues. If a young mother cannot afford to eat right, her unborn child will not receive proper nutrients. If a person witnesses gun violence, it could trigger schizophrenia to develop if they are already prone to it.
What steps should someone in Los Angeles take if they believe a loved one shows signs of schizophrenia?
The first thing to do is help your loved one see a doctor for a proper diagnosis as soon as possible, using open, clear communication. Once they begin treatment, do your best to support them. They may have some ups and downs, and so will you. Know that you are doing your best and seek your own support or counseling.