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Dr. Leonard Citron Content Administrator Updated on: 14/07/2020 Next review: 14/01/2021

Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is an illness of mind or in other words is a mental disorder that usually affects the people between the ages of 16 to 30. It is a chronic and severe illness having abnormal behaviours, disordered thoughts, anti-social behaviour and it often can be a life long struggle. It is a complex and long-term illness and the cause of this illness are still unknown. This disease can occur in anyone at any age but it is uncommon to have patients of schizophrenia below the age of 12 and older than 40. Around one percent of the whole world, the population is affected by the schizophrenia.

Expert says that schizophrenia is not a single disease it is a group of mental diseases. The symptoms of this disease among the males appear at a slightly young age as compared to the females. In most of the cases, this disease develops very slowly that the person does not know that they are suffering through this for many years until the symptoms can be seen. Early diagnosis and early treatment can control the complications and seriousness of the disease. The patients of severe schizophrenia are dependent on others, as they cannot do their work independently.

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Symptoms

Schizophrenia has a range of problems related to the functions of the brain, which includes feeling disconnected with the emotions or feelings, faced difficulty in concentrating, wanted to avoid people or gatherings and wants to avoid them and so on.

Classified major types

As this disease has various symptoms varies from patient to patient, and are of four major types. Following are the types:

  • Positive symptoms

    The positive symptoms are also known as psychotic symptoms. It includes delusion and hallucination.


  • Negative symptoms

    These symptoms are based on the elements that are taken away from the patient. For example, lack of motivation and the absence of facial expressions.


  • Cognitive symptoms

    The cognitive symptoms belong to the thought process of the patient. These can be positive or can be negative symptoms, for instance, poor concentration.


  • Emotional symptoms

    These symptoms are normally based on negative symptoms like weak emotions. The patient cannot feel happiness or sadness.

Major Symptoms

The major symptoms of schizophrenia include delusion, disorganized thinking, hallucination, negative symptoms, extremely disorganized or abnormal motor behaviour. The further short detail of these symptoms is discussed under:

  • Delusions

    Delusions are actually the false and wrong beliefs that are not true or fictitious, in other words away from reality. For example, a person loves you in reality but the patient of schizophrenia thinks that the persons are going to hurt him or he feels the hatred or harassed.


  • Disorganized thinking

    Disorganizing thinking results in disorganizing speech. The thoughts of a patient suffering from the schizophrenia are shattered and when the thoughts are shattered how a person can speak in an organized order. Thus, they are not able to communicate in a proper and effective way. They are not able to answer your questions properly and even the answer will not match to the actual question. They are not even able to pronounce the words properly and sometimes used meaningless words.


  • Hallucination

    Another symptom of schizophrenia patients is a hallucination. It usually involves hearing or seeing a thing that does not exist. Hallucination is a common condition exists in any of the human senses but it most common in hearing voices. They hear the voices no other can hear.


  • Negative symptoms

    The patient of schizophrenia lacked in performing the functions properly. In the cases of severe schizophrenia, the patient may neglect his personal hygiene and he restricts his emotions, for example, he does not change his facial expressions while talking with someone, does not make eye contact with others. He used to be least bothered about his everyday routine. He does not want to meet people or to do socialization and he does not feel any happiness or sadness.


  • Extremely disorganized or abnormal motor behaviour

    In a number of ways, extremely disorganized or abnormal motor behaviour exists. From unpredictable anxiety to childish silliness, he misbehaved and does not focus on the goals, thus, it is hard for him to do the tasks. The abnormal behaviour can be resistance and ignorance to the instructions, bizarre or inappropriate posture, complete lack of response, and excessive and useless movements.

    The symptoms of schizophrenia can vary in different patients according to the seriousness of their disease. In some patients, you can find some symptoms from the beginning of their disease while in some patients the symptoms start to increase with the severity and with the complications of the disease.


  • Movement disorder

    A patient of schizophrenia having movement disorder can repeat the same movement again and again. In other extreme situations, a patient can stop moving or even talking for a certain time. It is a rare condition known as «catatonia».

Causes of schizophrenia

Scholars believe that there are various factors that generally contributed to the development of schizophrenia in someone’s life. Experts and scholars are mutually agreed on a few factors and they believe that these elements are the reason for this mental disorder.

  • Genetic inheritance

    Schizophrenia is not only caused by only one genetic variation. The genetics complex interplay and environment contributed to triggering this disease. If there is no history of schizophrenia in the first-degree relative, the ratio of developing this illness is less than one percent and the ratio increased to 10 percent if your first-degree relative has this disorder.


  • A chemical imbalance in the brain

    Scholars believe that the chemical imbalance in the brain called neurotransmitters that include dopamine and glutamate are a cause of developing this disease. Neurotransmitters are one of the brain chemicals that carries a message between the cells of the brain. This is proved that too much dopamine may be involved in the development of this illness, but it is still a question that whether or how everyone diagnosed with this disease has too much quantity of dopamine. The Neuroleptic medicines that target the dopamine system are sometimes used to control and treat schizophrenia.


  • Environment

    The environment is also a cause of triggering schizophrenia. It is also a fact that there is no evidence of this but experts believe that the trauma, contact to a virus, and malnutrition during pregnancy or before birth has been shown to increase the ratio of schizophrenia. As these elements such as malnutrition, viruses and toxins can impact the development of the brain.


  • Drug users

    Some studies have shown that during teen tears or in young adulthood, taking mind-altering drugs can increase the risk of schizophrenia. The younger and the more frequent use of these drugs have a greater risk. The youngsters with the usage of cannabis, smokers of marijuana and other street drugs, for example, cocaine and amphetamines can increase the risks of developing schizophrenia. If you are already a patient of this disease, these drugs will make the symptoms of this disease worst.


  • Stressful life

    The persons who are spending a stressful life, the persons living in isolation and poverty, have no job and home, and being harassed and verbally and physically tortured or abused, all these factors lead towards the development of schizophrenia.


  • Other causes

    Researchers are working hard to find the causes of this disease. Some other causes of this disease the researchers are working on are physical injuries to the brain in an accident, viruses, hormonal disorder especially in ladies, allergies, and diet.

Diagnosis

The diagnosis of schizophrenia is made by ruling out other medical issues that can be the behavioural symptoms normally known as exclusion, and by observing the characteristic symptoms of this disease present in the patient. The doctor will look for the presence of its basic symptoms i.e. delusion, hallucinations, negative symptoms, disorganized thinking and speech, disorganized or catatonic behaviour, inability to work efficiently at work or in daily routine for at least six months and social withdrawal.

For the diagnosis of this disease, the doctor maybe does the psychological evaluation, physical examination, imaging scans or MRI to take a complete picture of the condition of the patient and may do the blood testing. In the diagnosis of mental health evaluation and screening in a key factor in the diagnosis process of this mental illness. Much other mental health-related illness as if schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, and substance abuse also have the same symptoms. Thus, it is important for the doctor to do a complete investigation to rule out these other disorders.

Complications

It is very important to start the treatment of the schizophrenia in time. If we will do delay in its treatment, its complications will affect every area of the patient’s life. In addition, in worse scenarios its complications can be included:

  • Self-harm or self-injury
  • Suicidal thoughts, suicide or suicide attempts
  • Depression or stress
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) or Anxiety disorder
  • Social isolation
  • Problem related to health and medical
  • Abuse of alcohol or other drugs
  • Being victimized
  • Inability to do his normal routine works including attending the school
  • Aggressive and abnormal behaviour
  • Homelessness and financial and legal issues

Treatment

The best treatment for the patients having schizophrenia is a combination of psychological treatment, medication after consulting with the doctor and community support.

  • Medication

    The antipsychotic medications are the first option in the treatment of the patients with schizophrenia to control the complications and severity of this disease further. These medications are normally used in combination with other types of medicines. Some common antipsychotic drugs are:

    • Aripiprazole (Abilify)

    • Olanzapine (Zyprexa)

    • Paliperidone (Invega)

    • Quetiapine (Seroquel)

    • Risperidone (Risperdal)

    • Ziprasidone (Geodon)

    Most of the times doctors prescribed these antipsychotics to relieve and control the symptoms of psychosis, such as hallucination and delusions. Due to lack of awareness about this illness and the side effects of the medications used in the treatment of this disease, persons who have been suggested they are often reluctant and hesitant to take these medicines.


  • Psychotherapy

    Psychotherapy plays an important and significant role in treating this mental disorder. The cognitive enhancement therapy (CET) or cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is an example of the therapies helping in controlling this disorder.


  • Psychosocial treatments

    The patients who engage in therapeutic interventions often see the improvement and seen great mental stability. This treatment makes the patients compensate for or remove the barriers caused by their illness and learn to live their life successfully. Assertive community treatment (ACT) is the most common psychosocial treatment for dealing with this treatment and making the lives better for the patients.

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Prevention

There is no specific and authentic way to prevent this mental disorder known as schizophrenia. But you can make your life better and can face the challenges occurred due to this illness by sticking with the treatment plan as it can help and assist to prevent from relapses and also protect it from worsening the symptoms of schizophrenia. The early diagnosis also can also prevent the complications of this illness.

Bottom Line

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Schizophrenia is a disease that affects all the functions of human life. The reasons of this disease are still not known and researchers are working on this. They believe that once the more reasons or risk factors for schizophrenia will be known, the early diagnosis of this disease will be easy for the doctors. It is a lifelong disease with severe complications and a patient with this illness has to fight with this for years. In this disease, not only the patient suffers but his family also suffers a lot as the patient is not able to do his routine work independently. He depends on someone to perform his normal routine tasks.

We also need to create awareness among the public about this and as a community need to help the person. We also need to give awareness to the family of the schizophrenic patient so that they can support the patients decrease the ratio of relapse of psychotic episodes and play their role in the improvement of patient’s outcomes. The family relationship will only improve when every member of the family knows how they can support their loved one who is dealing with this mental order schizophrenia.

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