Schizophrenia affects around one in 300 people or about 24 million people globally. Unfortunately, the term is too often used casually, and the mass media has skewed the public’s understanding of what schizophrenia truly is. The stigma and misunderstanding of schizophrenics can make it challenging for them to find and accept the help they desperately need.
Children who grew up with parents who had diagnosed or untreated schizophrenia have likely experienced several tell-tale signs of their unique upbringing. Unfortunately, many of the children of schizophrenics suffer from life-long problems themselves. This is because parents with schizophrenia (especially those who are undiagnosed or untreated) experience significant problems providing stable homes for their children.
The Signs of Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia often starts slowly and progresses to more severe symptoms over time. Those with the disorder are usually diagnosed between 16 and 30, which means they may have already had one child or more by the time they’ve received a diagnosis. Although schizophrenia looks different for everyone, a few common signs someone has it might include:
- seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting or feeling things that aren’t there (hallucinations)
- having strong beliefs that aren’t true and may seem irrational to others (delusions)
- difficulty organizing their thoughts or speech
- abnormal body movements
- loss of motivation
- loss of interest or enjoyment in daily activities or hobbies
- social withdrawl
- difficulty showing emotions
- very low energy
- problems anticipating or feeling pleasure in everyday life
- difficulty following a conversation
- difficulty remembering important appointments or events
- trouble processing information required to make decisions
- continually losing focus
Schizophrenics aren’t usually dangerous to other people, as the media often portrays them to be. But, in truth, people with schizophrenia are more likely to be a danger to themselves. Research shows somewhere between 5% and 13% of people with diagnosed schizophrenia die by suicide. The numbers for those with undiagnosed or untreated schizophrenia may be even higher, but those numbers are more challenging to track.
What Is It Like To Be Children of Schizophrenics?
The sons and daughters of schizophrenic mothers or fathers often have questions about the mental disorder, as well as what schizophrenia is like when you are living with it. Often, they don’t even realize the way their parents are acting towards them (and the world around them) is due to a mental illness. It isn’t rare for those with schizophrenic parents to believe they’re the ones to blame, which causes low self-esteem that, in turn, can negatively affect most aspects of a child’s social and emotional well-being. Children of schizophrenics are significantly more likely than their peers to:
- develop mood disorders like anxiety or depression
- struggle in school as a child, or with employment as an adult
- experience financial insecurity
- face substance abuse problems
- have problems making friends, both in childhood and adulthood
- lag in their academics
Studies show those with schizophrenic mothers have the worst outcomes and are the most likely to face problems in childhood and adulthood. This is due to the importance of the maternal bond early in early development and how schizophrenia can negatively affect that bond.
What Effects Does Schizophrenia Have On Parenting?
Having schizophrenia can make it challenging to provide a stable environment for children. Not only is this condition difficult to manage for the parent, but many of the disorder’s symptoms directly affect parent-child interactions. For example, schizophrenics often have difficulty showing emotions, which can make children feel unloved, albeit unintentionally. It’s also common for those with schizophrenia to experience hallucinations and delusions, which can cause their children to become confused or paranoid themselves.
Parents with schizophrenia will struggle to maintain a healthy relationship with their children, sometimes because of their paranoia or suspicion in interactions with other people. Although paranoia can extend to the children themselves, it’s most often of other people. Schizophrenics are often socially isolated, making having a supportive community for themselves and their children challenging.
What Can a Parent Who Has Schizophrenia Do To Mitigate Potential Damage?
The most important thing a parent with schizophrenia can do to mitigate potential damage to their children is seek help. You don’t have to struggle alone, and you shouldn’t have to. Schizophrenia isn’t a condition you can treat on your own, and even coming to terms with the fact that you need help (or have the condition) can be challenging. Psychological care for someone with schizophrenia usually consists of a combination of talk therapy and medications.
You should also work to develop a support network for yourself and your children. Consider reaching out to close relatives, like your siblings or parents, to talk about what you’re going through. These people can also be there for your children to talk to. Many children of schizophrenics have stated that having another supportive adult in their lives made them more resilient against the potential damage of being raised by a schizophrenic parent.
The Importance of Seeking Help for Untreated Schizophrenia
If you believe you or a loved one have untreated schizophrenia, it’s crucial you receive professional medical help. Schizophrenia is not a condition that can be managed alone, nor should it be. The symptoms of the condition can make daily life difficult and increase the risks of suicidal thoughts or behaviors. You can reach out to Restore Mental Health by calling (877) 594-3566 at any time to start your journey to recovery. Remember, the earlier you seek treatment, the better the outcomes will be for both you and your children.
The Importance of Seeking Help for Trauma Caused by Schizophrenic Parenting
If you were raised by a schizophrenic parent, it’s important you seek help for the trauma it caused. While your parents weren’t to blame for their mental illness, the long-lasting effects you’re likely suffering from are challenging to overcome. Call us today to speak with one of our compassionate counselors and get started on your recovery journey today.