Schizophrenia: A Chronic Mental Illness

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Introduction Stress serves as a major risk and complicating factor for any illness, regardless of presenting symptoms (Elliott and Einsdorfer 1982; Hatfield and Lefley 2007; Nicholson and Neufeld 2002). For a chronic mental illness as complex as schizophrenia, the impact of environmental stress is particularly important to consider. The Stress-Diathesis Model (or Vulnerability Stress Model) places schizophrenia in the context of both biological and environmental (psychosocial) risk factors (Zubin and Spring 1977). The model suggests an interactive or reciprocal association among stressors (which might include genetic predisposition to illness as well as environmental factors), symptom formation, protective factors, and outcome. Cumulative (or proliferating) stress may create additional burden through the buildup of stressful situations over periods of time (Pearlin, Aneshensel, and Leblanc 2008). Lack of support or stimulation may also serve as a source of stress, particularly given that individuals with schizophrenia can become withdrawn and isolated (Cassel 2010). At the other extreme, change and transition can be as stressful; there is strong evidence to suggest that structure and routine can help to ground and focus persons who suffer from mental disorders (Scheflen 2003). Resiliencies and Protective Factors: Financial Impact of Chronic Mental Illness Population Resiliency refers to the internal strengths that a person is able to draw on under duress and stress;
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