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Disability and Schizophrenia

Rashmi Nemade, Ph.D. & Mark Dombeck, Ph.D. Updated: Mar 20th 2017


Schizophrenia can be crippling, but it is not always so. With effective treatment, including good access to proper medications and supportive counseling, those affected with the disorder can live reasonably normal lives. The key phrase here is 'reasonably normal'. Very few chronic people with schizophrenia can pass for 'normal' people when looked at very closely. It is likely that some odd behaviors and mannerisms will be noticeable during social interactions, even during periods of relative health. People with milder forms of schizophrenia are frequently able to work and live independently. They will likely need some special accommodations to do so. They will also show a level of functioning that is lower than their pre-illness condition. Some people experience only mild symptoms during their illness. However, an unfortunately large percentage of people with schizophrenia will experience severe to moderate symptoms, which can only partially be helped with medical treatment. Lifelong disability of varying levels can result. These challenges affect both people with schizophrenia and their families.

People with schizophrenia have problems in their ability to care for themselves and to meet other's expectations. These challenges are the ones that lead to disability. It is necessary for people to clean and feed themselves before they can function in society. If a person cannot do these basic tasks, they will find it difficult to deal with people at work or school. Hallucinations, delusions and other symptoms associated with schizophrenia can last into periods of relative recovery. This makes it difficult for them to lead regularly responsible, orderly lives. It is hard to remember to brush your teeth, for instance, when you are hearing a voice talking about your thoughts, and telling you what a horrible person you are. It is also difficult to show up for work on time when you are concerned that the FBI is out to get you, or that space aliens are broadcasting your thoughts by directly inserting them into other people's heads.

People with schizophrenia's difficulty maintaining a job causes them to have to rely on others for money and support. In addition, they often depend on others for help in getting and taking medication. Many also end up abusing drugs and/or alcohol, and smoking heavily. These issues contribute to their disability and health issues. Their relationships suffer heavily. Many lose contact with family members and friends who become burned out trying to prevent them from acting out in bizarre ways. As a group, their life expectancy is reduced due to suicide, accidents, and because of preventable diseases (that were not stopped due to poor self-care, unhealthy lifestyles, and poor medical care).


Reader Comments
Discuss this issue below or in our forums.

Thank you for not asking for a name - - Oct 29th 2013

As a doctor I'm sure you are aware that sometimes a cooperative patient doing well can function and of course people, perhaps myself included, get misdiagnosed.  Some meds are totally uneffective on me and all I really get is the side effect with no effect, seroquel and zyprexa being exceptions.  There are mild cases like my own, as I'm sure you know, where I maybe get a couple weird dismissable ideas (delusions) a day, maybe hallucinate if I take my meds too late, but otherwise am essentially like anyone else.  Well anyway, glad someone out there is qualified to help us and takes a moment out of a packed schedule to say something.   

Argueing with myself - Alexander - Sep 30th 2011

I've lived with this mental problem for a long time now, 11 years to be exact. my current age is 17 and im not sure how much longer i can keep fighting with my own mind. Last night my walls were crawling and a dead version of myself came out of my wall. It told me i'll lose control of it and kill eveyone and everything. This is something the voices have wanted me to do for some time now. I am medicated and these episodes happen every now and then. This is something i have to live with everyday. the only reason im sharring this is because im tired of keeping it to myself. im not about to kill myself. i will survive. i hope one day they can get ride of these voices forever instead of just keeping them quite. This illness has cause me and alot of other people so much pain. the most commen questions i get are how many voices do you hear. the answer to the is 10000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000. another question i get is what do they sound like and the answer to that is its like water going down the drain. they in no way sound like real people. If you have an questions just ask.

living with schizophrenia - chris - Oct 25th 2008

I have been living with this disease for over 10 years now and frankly I'm terrified.  I'm so scared of waking up the way i have before..being terrified of everything and everyone.  i've went long periods with no medication and though that everyone was wrong about it.  Well, i can tell you personally that this disease is a terrible affliction and a burden to everyone around me.  i have lost nearly everything i've had in a period of months.  But on a lighter's also fun sometimes to have a good imagination.  I consider it a blessing sometimes to have different outlooks.

Ignorance - Manas Bhattacharyya - Jul 20th 2008

I fully disagree with the comment "Schizophrenia is a curable disease".  I am suffering with son for the last 16years. and we have suffered with my sister who was a Doctor.

Disability and Schizophrenia - captainjohann - Jun 7th 2008

Mental health professionals must look at laws governing it in countries like India,china,or other group C countries.

The mental health act 1987 ( which replaced Indian lunacy act 1912) strats with a lie "that Mental illness is curable and so no stigma should be associated with it". As most of Indian law makers are ignorant about various issues involved in mental health, this gives a signal to them that increase in psychiatrists and medications will solve all the problem.They just donot understand the NEED for daycare, half way homes and long stay homes for unrecovered and homes for carers for respite. Disabled mentallyill can be just wished away with increase in psychiatrists and medication is their call.

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