The term “schizophrenia” is used to describe a variety of psychotic diseases as well as a single illness. The “disconnection” from reality that occurs under these circumstances is in some way. These disconnections can occur in a variety of ways.
Schizophrenia is a persistent, severe mental illness that has an impact on a person’s relationships with others as well as their thinking, acting, and emotional expression. Despite not being as prevalent as other severe mental illnesses, schizophrenia can be the most persistent and incapacitating.
Schizophrenia patients frequently struggle to function well in relationships, the workplace, and academic settings. They could appear to have lost touch with reality, feel scared, and withdraw. This chronic illness cannot be cured, but it can be managed with the right care.
Schizophrenia is not multiple personality.
schizophrenia is not a split or multiple personality, unlike what the general public thinks. Psychosis, a sort of mental disorder when a person cannot distinguish between the real world and their imagination, is a component of schizophrenia. People with psychotic conditions occasionally become detached from reality. The world may appear to be a tangle of perplexing ideas, pictures, and noises. Their actions could be startling and extremely unusual. A psychotic episode occurs when a person experiencing it loses contact with reality and has an abrupt shift in personality and behaviour.
What Are the Early Symptoms of Schizophrenia?
Men typically experience the condition’s earliest symptoms in their late teens or early 20s. Women in their early 20s and 30s are particularly affected by it. The prodromal period is the time before the onset of full psychosis and when symptoms first appear. Days, weeks, or even years may pass before it stops. Since there is typically no identifiable trigger, it might be challenging to detect. Particularly in teens, you might not even detect tiny behavioural changes. This comprises:
- A change in grades
- Social withdrawal
- Trouble concentrating
- Temper flares
- Difficulty sleeping
Delusions: These are erroneous, contradictory, and occasionally bizarre ideas that the person holds despite being confronted with evidence to the contrary. Delusional individuals, for instance, could think that others can read their minds, that they are God or the Devil, that they are being plotted against or that they are being put notions into their heads.
Hallucinations: These involve fictitious experiences. The most frequent hallucination in those with schizophrenia is hearing voices. The voices may criticise the person’s actions, scold them, or issue orders. Less frequent forms include the ability to perceive things that aren’t there, smell weird aromas, taste things strangely, and sense sensations on your skin even when nothing is touching you.
Catatonia: In this condition, the person may stop speaking, and their body may be fixed in a single position for a very long time.
Disorganized Symptoms of Schizophrenia
These are positive symptoms that show that the person can’t think clearly or respond as expected. Examples include:
- Talking in sentences that don’t make sense or using nonsense words, making it difficult for the person to communicate or hold a conversation
- Shifting quickly from one thought to the next without obvious or logical connections between them
- Moving slowly
- Being unable to make decisions
- Writing excessively but without meaning
- Forgetting or losing things
- Repeating movements or gestures, like pacing or walking in circles
- Having problems making sense of everyday sights, sounds, and feelings
Cognitive Symptoms of Schizophrenia
The person will have trouble:
- Understanding information and using it to make decisions (a doctor might call this poor executive functioning)
- Focusing or paying attention
- Using their information immediately after learning it (this is called working memory)
- Recognizing that they have any of these problems
Negative Symptoms of Schizophrenia
The word “negative” here doesn’t mean “bad.” It notes the absence of normal behaviors in people with schizophrenia. Negative symptoms of schizophrenia include:
- Lack of emotion or a limited range of emotions
- Withdrawal from family, friends, and social activities
- Less energy
- Speaking less
- Lack of motivation
- Loss of pleasure or interest in life
- Poor hygiene and grooming habits
What Causes Schizophrenia?
The exact cause of schizophrenia isn’t known. But like cancer and diabetes, schizophrenia is a real illness with a biological basis. Researchers have uncovered a number of things that appear to make someone more likely to get schizophrenia, including:
Genetics (heredity): Schizophrenia can run in families, which means a greater likelihood to have schizophrenia may be passed on from parents to their children.
Brain chemistry and circuits: People with schizophrenia may not be able to regulate brain chemicals called neurotransmitters that control certain pathways, or “circuits,” of nerve cells that affect thinking and behavior.
Brain abnormality: Research has found abnormal brain structure in people with schizophrenia. But this doesn’t apply to all people with schizophrenia. It can affect people without the disease.
Environment: Things like viral infections, exposure to toxins like marijuana, or highly stressful situations may trigger schizophrenia in people whose genes make them more likely to get the disorder. Schizophrenia more often surfaces when the body is having hormonal and physical changes, like those that happen during the teen and young adult years.
Who Gets Schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia can affect anyone. It affects people of various racial and cultural backgrounds anywhere in the world. Schizophrenia can develop at any age, however it usually first manifests in adolescence or the early years of adulthood. Men and women are both affected by the illness equally, though men typically experience symptoms sooner. The severity of the sickness tends to increase with the onset of the symptoms. Schizophrenia can occur in children above the age of 5, although it’s uncommon before puberty.
How Is Schizophrenia Diagnosed?
A thorough medical history and maybe a physical exam will be performed by the doctor to determine whether schizophrenia symptoms are present. While there are no specific laboratory tests to identify schizophrenia, a clinician may employ a variety of tests to rule out other physical illnesses or intoxications (such as substance-induced psychosis), as well as blood tests or brain imaging scans.
A psychiatrist, psychologist, or other mental health specialist with training in the diagnosis and treatment of mental diseases may be recommended to the patient if the doctor is unable to identify any other physical causes for the symptoms of schizophrenia. To determine whether a person has a psychotic disorder, psychiatrists and psychologists employ assessments and interviews that have been carefully created. The therapist bases their conclusion on the patient’s and family’s descriptions of their symptoms as well as their observations of the patient’s demeanour and actions.
A person is diagnosed with schizophrenia if they have at least two of these symptoms for at least 6 months:
- Disorganized speech
- Disorganized or catatonic behaviour
- Negative symptoms
One of the symptoms must be:
- Disorganized speech
During the 6 months, the person must have a month of active symptoms. (It can be less with successful treatment.) Symptoms should negatively affect them socially or at work, and can’t be caused by any other condition.
How Is Schizophrenia Treated?
The goal of schizophrenia treatment is to ease the symptoms and to cut the chances of a relapse or return of symptoms. Treatment for schizophrenia may include:
- Medications: Antipsychotics are the most common drugs used to treat schizophrenia. Although these medications don’t treat schizophrenia, they do help with its most distressing symptoms, such as delusions, hallucinations, and cognitive difficulties.
- Coordinated specialty care (CSC): When the initial signs of schizophrenia arise, this is a team approach to treatment. It combines medical treatment and counselling with interventions in social services, employment, and education. The family participates as much as they can. To assist people to lead normal lives, early treatment is essential.
- Psychosocial therapy: Various psychosocial treatments can help with the behavioural, psychological, social, and vocational issues associated with schizophrenia, while medicine may aid with symptom relief. Patients can develop a relapse prevention strategy, recognize early warning signs of relapse, and learn how to manage their symptoms through therapy. Psychosocial treatments comprise:
- Rehabilitation, which focuses on social skills and job training to help people with schizophrenia function in the community and live as independently as possible
- Cognitive remediation, which involves learning techniques to make up for problems with information processing. It often uses drills, coaching, and computer-based exercises to strengthen mental skills that involve attention, memory, planning, and organization.
- Individual psychotherapy, which can help the person better understand their illness, and learn coping and problem-solving skills
- Family therapy, which can help families deal with a loved one who has schizophrenia, enabling them to better help their loved one
- Group therapy/support groups, which can provide continuing mutual support
- Hospitalization: Many people with schizophrenia may be treated as outpatients. But hospitalization may be the best option for people:
- With severe symptoms
- Who might harm themselves or others
- Who can’t take care of themselves at home
- Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT): In this procedure, electrodes are attached to the person’s scalp. While they’re asleep under general anesthesia, doctors send a small electric shock to the brain.
- Research: Deep brain stimulation (DBS), a treatment being studied by researchers to treat schizophrenia. Electrodes that stimulate specific brain regions thought to influence perception and thought are surgically implanted by doctors. While DBS is a proven method of treating severe Parkinson’s disease and essential tremor, it is still in the experimental stage when it comes to the management of psychiatric problems.