Schizophrenia is widely misunderstood, even among medical and psychiatric professionals. Although an estimated two and a half million Americans suffer from the disease, along with fifty million others worldwide, it often is misdiagnosed, and treatment approaches differ radically. This lack of understanding deeply affects those with the disease and their families, who must figure out for themselves how to cope with the disease and associated behavioral difficulties.
Schizophrenia is a debilitating mental illness that often produces hallucinations and delusional thinking. It often leaves the sufferer completely incapacitated to perform daily life tasks such as bathing, socialization, and work. Because many health insurance plans treat schizophrenia as a psychological or psychiatric rather than medical condition, they do not cover treatment as fully, leading to financial hardships for the families of schizophrenics. Schizophrenia is the most expensive disease on earth, associated with annual costs of $32.5 billion for hospitalization, medication, caregiving, and lost productivity.
Peter Wyden writes about these issues from an insider’s perspective. His son, Jeff, began to withdraw during adolescence, and by the time he was in his twenties, he was severely psychotic and disconnected from reality. Doctors could not agree on Jeff’s diagnosis, much less appropriate treatment. Wyden discusses his son’s treatment in parallel with a broader...
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