Everything You Need To Know About Schizophrenia, With Treatment

Overview | Types | Causes | Symptoms | Risks factors | Complications | Diagnosis | Treatment | Prevention |

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What is Schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a severe mental health condition in which people interpret reality abnormally. It can impact speech, thinking, emotions, social interactions, everyday activities, and other areas of life. People have to tackle schizophrenia throughout their lives because it is not a treatable condition and needs continuous treatment for their whole life.

Its symptoms fairly occur when a person is in their late teens or early 30s. However, some cases are found in which the individuals begin to show symptoms of schizophrenia from childhood and it gets more significant as they get older. Whereas, in some cases, the symptoms may appear suddenly.

Schizophrenia may result in some combination of symptoms, such as hallucinations, delusions, extremely disordered thinking, and behaviour. All these impair daily functioning and can even result in disabling.

Schizophrenia is fairly an uncommon health condition with less than 1% of cases in the U. S. (According to the National Institute of Mental Health). Although the ratio of affected males and females with schizophrenia is almost equal, males have an onset.

On getting diagnosed early, its treatment can have a better impact and may get symptoms under control before serious complications develop.

Types of schizophrenia:

Types of schizophrenia are no longer in existence, it’s eliminated now. However, types of schizophrenia help doctors to plan treatment. It’s get eliminated in 2013.

The types of schizophrenia was —

  • Paranoid – In 2013, it was found that paranoid is not a type of schizophrenia but just a “positive” symptom of the disorder. Thus, get eliminated by doctors.
  • Catatonic  
  • Hebephrenic or disorganized
  • Undifferentiated
  • Residual

This classification is no longer in use. At present, there is a diagnosis of schizophrenia as a whole, not divided in types.

Causes of schizophrenia:

According to NIMH, schizophrenia develops when the genetic factors, biological factors, and environmental factors, separately or in combined form can lead to the development of schizophrenia.

Following are the factors that can contribute in the development of schizophrenia:

  • Genetic inheritance – If any member, especially your parents (or even one of your parents) are diagnosed with schizophrenia, then your risk of development of schizophrenia increases. But, if it is not so, then your chances of development of schizophrenia is less than 1%.
  • Chemical imbalance in the brain – A condition in which there is an imbalance of neurotransmitter dopamine and possibly serotonin also, takes place; it may result in the development of schizophrenia.

Scientists also believe that low levels of certain brain chemicals, which are responsible for or controls our emotions and behavior can contribute to the development of psychiatric disorders.

  • Environmental factors – Environmental factors that can increase the risk of schizophrenia are as follows –
  • Malnutrition before birth
  • Trauma before birth
  • Psychological factors, such as trauma, etc.
  • Viral infections etc.
  • Certain drugs and medications – In 2017, scientists found evidence to suggest that some substances in cannabis can trigger schizophrenia in those who are susceptible to it already.

Other risks factors includes —

  • Brain abnormalities
  • Inflammatory disease
  • Autoimmune disease
  • High-stress levels
  • Exposure to toxins or virus before birth
  • Exposure to toxins or virus in infancy
  •  Use of mind-altering drugs etc.

Symptoms of schizophrenia:

Inactive Schizophrenia consists of several episodes in which the affected person is unable to distinguish between real and unreal (imaginary) experiences. The incidences of severe psychotic symptoms often decrease with the person’s age or as he/she becomes older.

Symptoms of schizophrenia can be classified into three main categories, these are as follows —

  • Positive symptoms —
  • Hallucinations such as hearing or seeing such things which don’t exist in real
  • Paranoia
  • Exaggerated or distorted perceptions, beliefs, and behaviours
  • Thoughts and movement disorders
  • Negative symptoms —
  • Loss or decrease in the ability to initiate plans, speak, express emotions or find pleasures.
  • Trouble in control of impulse
  • Social isolation etc.
  • Disorganized symptoms —
    • Confused or disordered thinking
    • Confused or disordered speech
    • Difficulty logical thinking
    • Sometimes bizarre behavior and abnormal movements.
  • Cognition symptoms —
  • Attention problems
  • Loss of concentration and memory
  • Declining educational performance etc.

Risks factors:

Precise causes are still not known but there are some factors that increases the risk —

  • Family history
  • Pregnancy and birth complications
  • Malnutrition or exposure to toxins or viral infections before birth (that impacted brain development)
  • Use of mind-altering drugs at young age etc.

Complications:

  • Suicide, its thoughts, and attempts
  • Anxiety disorders
  • OCD
  • Depression
  • Inability to work and focus
  • Being victimized
  • Medical and health problems
  • Drugs and alcohol abuse
  • Financial problems
  • Aggressive behavior (uncommon) etc.

Diagnosis:

There is no specific test to diagnose schizophrenia. You must approach a good psychiatrist or a mental health professional to diagnose your condition properly. Your doctor can opt for a complete psychiatric exam to make a diagnosis. Firstly, your doctor will ask you questions regarding your symptoms, your health history and medical condition, and your family history.

To diagnosis your condition, your doctor can prescribe you some tests, such as —

  • Physical examination
  • Blood work
  • Imaging tests, such as MRI and CT scans.

Chances of diagnosis of schizophrenia increase if you have had at least two of these symptoms for a month. These symptoms are as follows —

  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Disorganized speech

Sometimes, there can be another underlying condition in which symptoms resemble schizophrenia. This condition may include certain medications consumption, substance use, and other medical conditions or illnesses.

Treatment of schizophrenia:

If you are diagnosed with schizophrenia, unfortunately, you have to continue your treatment lifelong. Because there is no cure for schizophrenia but with the help of treatment you can control the symptoms and may ease your life a little.

You must approach such a psychiatrist or mental health professional who has good experience in handling such cases.

Your treatment options may include —

  • Medications — Antipsychotic medications can help to treat symptoms like hallucinations, delusions, and other symptoms of psychosis.
  • Psychological intervention – To treat your stress and illness through therapy. It can also help you to improve your social and communication skills.
  • Vocational rehabilitation – To help you focus on your work life.

There are some alternative treatments too, but to opt for any of those alternatives you must consult your doctor first.

Prevention:

There is no proven way to prevent schizophrenia. But sticking to your treatment can help you to prevent relapses and worsening of symptoms.

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