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Schizophrenia- decoding the disorder

There are half of us who have heard about this disorder and another half who have been living under the rock. Even those who know the name of the disorder, don’t understand the seriousness of it. In this article, we will learn what the disorder is, what causes it, triggers, types, what are the symptoms, and the treatment. 


What is schizophrenia?


Schizophrenia is a serious mental disorder in which people interpret reality abnormally. Schizophrenia may result in some combination of hallucinations, delusions, and extremely disordered thinking and behavior that impairs daily functioning, and can be disabling.


Let us now look at the symptoms:


Schizophrenia involves a range of problems with thinking (cognition), behavior, and emotions. Signs and symptoms may vary, but usually involve delusions, hallucinations, or disorganized speech, and reflect an impaired ability to function. Symptoms may include:



  • Delusions. These are false beliefs that are not based on reality. For example, you think that you're being harmed or harassed; certain gestures or comments are directed at you; you have exceptional ability or fame; another person is in love with you, or a major catastrophe is about to occur. Delusions occur in most people with schizophrenia.

  • Hallucinations. These usually involve seeing or hearing things that don't exist. Yet for the person with schizophrenia, they have the full force and impact of a normal experience. Hallucinations can be in any of the senses, but hearing voices is the most common hallucination.

  • Disorganized thinking (speech). Disorganized thinking is inferred from disorganized speech. Effective communication can be impaired, and answers to questions may be partially or completely unrelated. Rarely, speech may include putting together meaningless words that can't be understood, sometimes known as word salad.


     Extremely disorganized or abnormal motor behavior. This may show in several ways, from childlike silliness to unpredictable agitation. Behavior isn't focused on a goal, so it's hard to do tasks. Behavior can include resistance to instructions, inappropriate or bizarre posture, a complete lack of response, or useless and excessive movement.



  • Negative symptoms. This refers to reduced or lack of ability to function normally. For example, the person may neglect personal hygiene or appear to lack emotion (doesn't make eye contact and doesn’t change facial expressions or speaks in a monotone). Also, the person may lose interest in everyday activities, socially withdraw or lack the ability to experience a pleasure.


Symptoms can vary in type and severity over time, with periods of worsening and remission of symptoms. Some symptoms may always be present.


Even teenagers can suffer from this disorder and it is difficult to recognize. Symptoms in teenagers include:



  • Withdrawal from friends and family

  • Disturbed sleep

  • Procrastination

  • Lack of motivation

  • Irritable

  • Depressive mood

  • A sudden drop in studies.


It has also been found that men and women both can have them but in men, the onset is earlier than in women. Men are usually diagnosed in their late teens and early 20’s whereas women are diagnosed in their late 20’s. people rarely develop the disorder before they are 12 or after they are 40.


Let’s see what causes schizophrenia


There hasn’t been a definite answer as to what causes the disease but researchers have pinpointed a few:


·         Genes: Schizophrenia can run in families and pass through generations. it's more likely that different combinations of genes make people more vulnerable to the condition. However, having these genes does not necessarily mean you'll develop schizophrenia.


Evidence that the disorder is partly inherited comes from studies of twins. Identical twins share the same genes.


In identical twins, if one develops schizophrenia, the other one has a 1 in 2 chance of developing it. This is true even if they're raised separately.  



  • Biochemical factors:


 Certain biochemicals in the brain have been associated with causing the disorder, especially a substance called dopamine. One probable cause of this chemical imbalance is a genetic disposition



  • Brain development:


It has been observed that some people with the disorder have changes in their brains. These are not seen in every patient. 



  •  Pregnancy and birth complications:


It has been observed that people who have the disorder are most likely to have undergone before or during their birth such as premature delivery, low birth weight, and lack of oxygen.


Although there are no definite answers as to what causes the disorder the above-mentioned points are believed to be the causes.


Triggers: 


Some of the identified triggers include physical or emotional abuse, loss of job, divorce, increased work or family pressure.


The below listed include some types of schizophrenia:





      • Paranoid :




This is the most common type of schizophrenia. It involves hallucination and delusions. Patients with this disorder often feel that someone is trying to harm them.





      • Hebephrenic:




This usually develops in teens and involves disorganized behavior.





      • Catatonic:




This is rare and is characterized by unusual, sudden, and limited movements.





      • Cenesthopatic:




People with this disorder experience unusual bodily movements.


Now that we have established causes, symptoms and types let us see what diagnosis and treatment look like:


 Diagnosis: it requires a medical professional


 





      • Physical exam

      • Psychological evaluation

      • Tests and screening

      • Diagnostic criteria for schizophrenia




Treatment:


It requires life-long treatment even if the symptoms subside.


A combination of different medicines and therapies are used which are only to be done under the care of a doctor ( psychiatrist or psychologist)


Finally, let’s see how a person with this disorder is :


In Schizophrenics, personality is shattered to pieces. What results are not a few organized, alternating parts but utter incoherence and chaos. The individual’s behavior becomes incoherent, disorganized, and bizarre, with no link between the situation and their behavior. It is as if the personality breaks down completely. They become maladjusted and are unable to lead a normal life. Such incidents represent extreme forms of personality disorder.


If you know anyone suffering from any of the above-listed symptoms, give them immediate psychiatric care. 


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