LIVING with mental illness is not easy, as the symptoms and effects can complicate and disrupt even the smallest tasks.Schizophrenia is a chronic mental illness 1, with more than 21 million people diagnosed with it worldwide.Although schizophrenia isn’t common, it is identified, along with depression, bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as one of the most severe mental illnesses.Similarly to other mental illnesses, schizophrenia doesn’t discriminate and it can affect anyone regardless of their race, age, gender or even income.The most common symptoms associated with schizophrenia appear in people in their mid-teens to early 30s.ACCORDING TO THE SOUTH AFRICAN DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY GROUP (SADAG), THE SYMPTOMS FOR SCHIZOPHRENIA CAN INCLUDE:• Hallucinations• Delusions, which can present itself as paranoia 4• Abnormal behaviour• Disorganised and incoherent speech• Feeling uncomfortable around people• Lack of energy• Emotionless• Difficulty concentrating• Feeling of being controlled.SCHIZOPHRENIA AND MENTAL ILLNESSAlthough there are vast differences between different mental illnesses, there are a few common traits, indicating they can be linked:• People susceptible to mental illness are diagnosed between their teen years and early adulthood.• If proper treatment isn’t administered, the condition can cause significant impairment in daily life for the person living with the condition.• Living with mental illness can impact people’s lives significantly, especially if they are not taking their treatment. This can affect employment, lead to substance abuse, homelessness and suicide.• An estimated 25 to 50% of people living with bipolar disorder have attempted suicide at least once, while an estimated 10% of people diagnosed with schizophrenia have committed suicide.• Because of misinformation, stigma is attached to mental illness, which discourages people from seeing a medical professional for a diagnosis and subsequent treatment.• Early diagnosis and proper treatment can ensure people living with mental illness receive the best care. This can reduce their symptoms and afford them to live a meaningful life.Remember, only a medical practitioner can make a mental health diagnosis and suggest the proper course of treatment.SCHIZOPHRENIA TREATMENTEven with the advancement in research and development of schizophrenia treatments, in 2018 the WHO noted with grave concern that more than 50% of people in developing countries who live with the condition are not receiving any form of treatment.• With several treatment options available, long-term injectables, administered by a medical practitioner, is the most convenient form of treatment.• By administering long-lasting injectables, the risk of skipping treatment reduces significantly and minimises the symptoms associated with schizophrenia.• The injectables afford people living with the condition to continue to live a fulfilling, meaningful and productive life.Being diagnosed with schizophrenia or any other mental illness doesn’t mean that ordinary life isn’t possible. With available treatments and support from family and friends, the symptoms can be reduced, making it possible for people living with these conditions to live a fulfilled life.If you are aware of a loved one who has schizophrenia or is exhibiting schizophrenic symptoms, encourage them to see a healthcare professional. You can also visit schizophrenia24x7.co.za for more information about this condition and how you can support people living with schizophrenia. — Supplied.