Schizophrenia and Internet Mental Health
Schizophrenia is a chronic and severe mental health disorder that affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves. Those struggling with schizophrenia may appear as if they have lost touch with reality. Symptoms associated with schizophrenia can often consist of long and debilitating symptoms. Schizophrenia is typically treated with a combination of antipsychotic medications as well as individual and family psychotherapy. There are several factors that can contribute to one’s risk of developing schizophrenia. Although, the specific cause of schizophrenia has yet to be identified or determined, scientists have learned that schizophrenia often runs in families. Although, it should be noted there are some individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia that do not have a family history of the disorder.
Because the exact cause of schizophrenia has yet to be identified treatment of the disorder includes a combination of different approaches, ranging from medicinal interventions to therapy, to coordinated care. Medicinal interventions usually involve oral medication which are prescribed to target the symptoms affecting one’s daily functioning. Medication can also be given via injections once or twice a month as this reduces the likelihood of medication inconsistency or noncompliance. Therapy allows those diagnosed to gain a better understanding of the disorder, ways to manage symptoms related to the disorder, as well avoid relapse and other mental health decompensation. Coordinated care integrates both approaches, which yields far better outcomes than any treatment approach alone. This treatment model integrates medication, therapeutic services, case management, family involvement, and supported education and employment services, all aimed at reducing symptoms and improving quality of life. By both treating and educating those diagnosed with the disorder are able to retain control as well as primary decision making in their treatment.
Using the internet can be an influential as well as vital source of illness-related information for patients with schizophrenia. However, internet research surrounding mental illness and other disorders should be used with caution. The information listed online is often not reader friendly, containing clinical terms that is not readily understood by persons that are not thoroughly knowledge on mental illness terminology. Clinical wording, phrasing, and criteria for diagnosis can be very confusing, creating fear and additional anxiety during a very stressful time. Online research is not intended to replace physician education, advice, and treatment options. Schizophrenia can be a confusing as well as overwhelming topic to discuss, therefore patients often search for the “meaning” of schizophrenia, the symptoms, how long it is expected to last, etc. There are both positive and negative benefits to online research pertaining to mental health concerns, however, clarification on the information provided needs to occur between you and your doctor.
Individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia are often in search of specifics such as signs and symptoms, treatment options, potential side effects of untreated symptoms, heredity concerns, severity as well as longevity of symptoms and treatment, etc. Information obtained from the internet is typically perceived as having the potential to significantly change patients’ attitudes toward medication as well as their relationships with physicians and other mental health professionals. Previous studies conducted on internet use and schizophrenia reaffirm that the internet is both an important and influential source of information for patients. If used properly in combination with professional mental health services persons struggling with schizophrenia can gain a better understanding of the disorder and develop more appropriate techniques to remain mentally healthy.