A brain disorder that changes the way somebody behaves thinks and sees the world is called Schizophrenia. The most common form of this brain disorder illness is paranoid schizophrenia, and people who suffer from it have altered view of the realities of life. Most of these people speak in languages that are strange, hear or see things that do not exist, always in confusion, feel like somebody is watching them constantly and believe that others want to harm them. Also, most of the people with this brain disorder act in fear and are at a high risk of committing suicide. As effects of this illness, patients will keep having problems with their relatives and their normal daily activities like eating, bathing, walking or running are disrupted. Schizophrenia can go as far as leading to alcohol or drug abuse, since the patient will be looking for self-medication that will help. Although schizophrenia can be seen as a chronic brain disorder, studies have shown that most of the patients of this disorder get better as time passes since they are improved treatment and there are many things that can be done to stop it. Avoid alcohol, drugs, and nicotine. Substance abuse complicates schizophrenia treatment and worsens symptoms. Even smoking cigarettes can interfere with the effectiveness of some schizophrenia medications. Lets get to know more about schizophrenia by reading on its symptoms.
Symptoms of Schizophrenia
This brain disorder which makes it difficult for one to differentiate between what is unreal and real, manage emotions, relate with others and function normally can be identified with some specific symptoms. Suspecting that you or someone you love has schizophrenia can be a stressful and an emotional experience. However, that does not mean there is no hope since schizophrenia can treated. The first step toward managing this disorder is to recognize its signs and symptoms. After recognizing the symptoms, the next thing to do is to seek help immediately. Having the correct self-help, support and treatment will help you learn how to manage the disorder properly and to live a satisfying and fulfilling life. In most men, the symptoms of schizophrenia normally start in the early to mid-20s while in women it normally begins in the late 20s. In as much as schizophrenia symptoms in teenagers are similar to those in adults, their conditions may be very difficult to recognize. This is because some of the early symptoms of schizophrenia in teenagers are normal for typical development during teen years. It is very rare for children or people older than 45 years to be diagnose with schizophrenia. Nevertheless, there are five types of symptoms typical of schizophrenia: delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech, disorganized behavior and the so-called negative symptoms. However, the symptoms of schizophrenia vary dramatically from one person to another, both in pattern and severity. That is, not all the people with schizophrenia will have all the five symptoms, and whereas, the symptoms of schizophrenia may also change with time.
Delusions are confidently held ideas that a person has in spite of clear and obvious evidence that the ideas are not true. These ideas are false beliefs that are not based on reality. Delusions are extremely common in schizophrenia and occur in more than 90% of those who have the brain disorder. Most often, these delusions involve fantasies, bizarre or illogical ideas. The various types of delusions that a patient of this brain disorder can have includes:
Delusions of persecution – A belief that others people are always trying to hurt you. These persecutory delusions often involve strange ideas and plots. For example, if you are suffering from the brain disorder, then you might just be having the feeling that someone is trying to poison you.
Delusions of control – A belief that an outside, alien force is controlling someone’s thoughts or actions. Most of the usually delusions of control include thought broadcasting, thought insertion and thought withdrawal.
Delusions of reference – A neutral environmental event or object is thought to have a special and personal meaning. For instance, you might belief a poster or a person on TV is sending a message meant especially for you.
Delusions of grandeur – A belief that you are an important or a famous figure. On the other hand, delusions of grandeur may involve the belief that you have strange powers, such as the ability to disappear.
Hallucinations are sounds or other feelings experienced as real when they exist only in a person’s mind. These usually involve seeing or hearing things that do not exist. Nevertheless, for a person with schizophrenia, he or she has the full force and impact of a normal experience. Hallucinations occur in any of the senses, but hearing voices is the most common type of hallucination. Schizophrenic hallucinations are normally meaningful to you since you are the person experiencing them. Most of the times, people who hallucinate hear the voices of those they know and they are usually critical, vulgar or abusive. As compared to hearing of voice, visual hallucinations are also relatively common. In addition, Schizophrenia can cause person to have trouble concentrating and maintaining a train of thought, externally manifesting itself in the way that they speak. That is, they may respond to queries with an unrelated answer, speak incoherently, start sentences with one topic and end somewhere completely different, or say things that are not logical.
Schizophrenia also disrupts your job, goal-directed activity, your ability to take care of yourself, and the way you interact with others. The disorganized behavior appears as disorganized speech or thinking. Disorganized thinking is inferred from a speech that is disorganized. Effective communication can be damaged and answers to questions may be partially or completely unrelated.
Another renounce symptom that might develop in some patients with schizophrenia are catatonia. The catatonic schizophrenia symptomcan include periods when a person moves very little and does not respond to instructions. Individuals who are affected might gladly assume strange body positions and demonstrate strange facial contortions or limb movements. The catatonic schizophrenia symptomissometimes confused with another disorder called tardive dyskinesia, which imitates some of these same, strange behaviors. Other symptoms related to the catatonic subtype include Echolalia and echopraxia. Echolalia means an almost parrot-like repeating of what another person is saying while echopraxia means mimicking the movements of another person. If catatonia is not handled with care, it leads to catatonic schizophrenia. For a diagnosis of catatonic schizophrenia, one or more of the following behaviors like disturbances in a person’s movement, dramatic reduction in activity or lack of motivation should dominate the clinical picture. Patients with the catatonic schizophrenia symptoms are usually not able to get medical help on their own but are often helped by a family member or friend.
The “negative symptoms” of schizophrenia refers to reduced or lack of ability to function normally. For instance, a person suffering from the brain disorder may neglect personal hygiene or appear to lack emotion. That is he or she does not make eye contact, does not change facial expressions or speaks in a monotone. In addition, the person may lose interest in everyday activities, lack the ability to experience pleasure or socially withdraw. Suicidal thoughts and behavior are common among people with this illness. If you have a loved one who is in danger of attempting suicide or has made a suicide attempt, make sure someone stays with that person. Call your local emergency number immediately or take the person to the nearest hospital emergency room, if you think you can do so safely.
Nonetheless, to get an official schizophrenia test or diagnosis, your must show at least two of the symptoms mention above most of the time for a month or more. For teenagers, it is very difficult to diagnose them since most of the first schizophrenia signs in young persons like bad grades, sleeping too much or withdrawal from friends can appear at first like small problems. Therefore, should in case you know or come across someone who might have schizophrenia, get to a doctor or psychiatrist and tell them what you have noticed. In a situation like this, one of the first things they will do is to conduct a psychological evaluation and a complete schizophrenia test on your patient. With the psychological evaluation and complete schizophrenia test, it will allow the doctor or expert to track your patient’s symptoms for close to six months to rule out other possible conditions, like bipolar disorder and possible causes. To make sure that no alcohol or drug abuse is responsible for the symptoms, the doctor may also want to do a blood test on the patient. The next important test might be body and brain scan like MRI or CT scan in order to help eliminate other problems like a brain tumor. With early diagnosis the illness can be mananged. However, there are Schizophrenia tests on the internet like the STEPI that takes into account both negative and positive symptoms of schizophrenia. STEPI is also testing for mitigating factors which can prevent a diagnosis of schizophrenia altogether.
The first step towards treating schizophrenia is by having a correct diagnosis. Most of the time, it is not always easy to get the diagnosis because the symptoms of schizophrenia looks like those caused by other mental and physical health problems. In addition, patients with this type of illness may believe nothing is wrong with them and resist going to the doctor. Diagnosis of schizophrenia involves ruling out other mental health disorders and determining that symptoms you are seeing in the patient are not due to substance abuse or medical condition. However, having schizophrenia does not mean you cannot live a full and meaningful life because it is possible to recover. Although currently there is no cure for schizophrenia, you can treat and manage it with antipsychotic medication, self-help strategies, supportive psychotherapy, skills training, support and Exercises.
It is normal that when diagnosed with schizophrenia you will be offered antipsychotic medication. The main aim of schizophrenia treatment with antipsychotic medications is to manage successfully the signs and symptoms at the lowest possible dose. These antipsychotic Medications are not cure for schizophrenia but they go to treats or reduce some of the symptoms of schizophrenia. These reduce symptoms includes hallucinations, delusions, disordered thinking and paranoia. It is very important to note that antipsychotic medications are just one component of schizophrenia treatment. This is because antipsychotic medications do not treat all the symptoms of schizophrenia like lack of motivation, social withdrawal and lack of emotional feeling. In addition, it takes time for antipsychotic medications to take full effect since some of the symptoms may respond to the medications within a few days, while others take weeks or months. Generally, most patients who are using antipsychotic medications see a significant improvement in their schizophrenia within six weeks. Should in case the patients feel no change, then the doctor can change the dose or try another medication.
Since schizophrenia is an illness that comes up in episode, a good opportunity for employing self-help strategies is often in periods of reduction from the severest symptoms. The self-help strategies aim at limiting the length and frequency of future episodes of schizophrenia. Following self-help strategies like changing your diet, seeking social support and relieving stress may not seem like useful tools against schizophrenia, but they have a profound effect on the frequency and severity of symptoms.
Eating nutritional meals regularly can help avoid psychosis and other schizophrenia symptoms brought on by significant changes in blood sugar levels. Work on your meal intake by minimizing sugar and refined carbs, and learn to eat foods that quickly boast up your mood and energy. Stop the taking of alcohol and drugs because substance abuse complicates schizophrenia treatment and only aggravates symptoms. The following self-help strategies can also improve the way you feel and increase your self-esteem. The more you embark on self-help strategies the less hopeless and helpless you will feel, and the more likely your doctor will be able to work with you on your treatment.
Psychotherapy can help in normalizing thought patterns of the patient. Supportive therapy also teaches you how to challenge delusional beliefs, ignore the voices that you hear in your head, protect against relapse, and motivate you to continue with treatment and self-help. In situations where you have side effects from the medication, your doctor might try to minimize the side effects by switching you to another medication or reducing your dose. However, if there is still no response from the medication, your doctor might consider electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). Today, most patients prefer the electroconvulsive therapy since it is less painful and much more effective.
The focus of social skills training for patient with this disorder is just to improve communication and social interactions. With this training, it improves the ability of the patient to participate in daily activities. This will also help the patients with schizophrenia to manage their illness by learning how to cope with stress and identify early warning signs of relapse.
Most people with schizophrenia require some form of daily living support that will help them to improve very fast. Support groups for people with this brain disorder can help them reach out to other people who are facing the similar challenge. There are also communities that have programs to help people suffering from this illness with housing, jobs, self-help groups and crises. In as much as you have your friends and family who can help you get the correct treatment and keeping your symptoms under control there is still that need to regularly connecting with others. This is because your face-to-face connection with others is the most effective way that will help in relieves stress and calming your nervous system. When you keep yourself socially connected by joining to spend time with people who have common interests it helps you to feel good about yourself. With the right medication, self-help strategies, therapy and support many people with this illness can be able to manage their symptoms.
Exercise can help in reducing symptoms of schizophrenia, increase your focus and energy, and help you feel calm. As a schizophrenia patient, you have to perform about 30 minutes of activity on every day. Always go for rhythmic exercise like walking, running, swimming or dancing that engages both your arms and legs.
Successful schizophrenia treatment depends on a combination of factors and to go through it requires many issues to deal with. It is also vital to educate yourself about the disorder, talk with your doctors and therapists, engage in a strong support system, take self-help steps and stay focus to your treatment plan. All these schizophrenia treatment methods will also help them to live and work independently, enjoy a rewarding life and build satisfying relationships.
Causes of schizophrenia
Scientists are yet to find out what causes schizophrenia. This is because what causes schizophrenia seems to be the result of a blend of problems that include genetic vulnerability and environmental factors. For instance, the chances of having the brain disorder when a family member has once had it are very high. In as much as researchers are not having a clue as to what causes schizophrenia, they believe that a mixture of genetics, brain chemistry and environment contribute to the development of the illness. Some individuals may be prone to schizophrenia while stress and emotional life event might trigger a psychotic episode in others. Nevertheless, the reason why some individuals develop symptoms while others do not is still unknown. As of now, what causes schizophrenia can only be limited to the things that make us vulnerable to having it and the things that might trigger it.
The first thing that makes a person vulnerable is genetic. This is because in as much as no gene in the body is believe to be responsible, schizophrenia tends to run in families. It is more likely that different combinations of genes in the body make people more at risk to the brain condition. It does not mean that if you have these genes you are going to have schizophrenia. The study of identical twin (with the same genes) has shown that the brain disorder is partly inherited. Even if the identical twins are raised up separately, if one of the twins has the disorder, the other person has a 50 percent chance of having it also. As for twin that are not identical, when one twin develops schizophrenia, the other only has about 15 percent chances of developing the condition. Since the chances of the population in general to have the disorder is very small, it implies that genes are not the only factor as to what causes schizophrenia.
Other related things that make a person vulnerable are the brain cell and neurotransmitters. Most of the studies of people suffering from schizophrenia have proven that there are subtle differences in the structure of their brains. Although the changes of the structures are not seen in everybody who have schizophrenia but researchers believe that schizophrenia may partly be a disorder of the brain. Also, having problems with certain naturally occurring brain chemicals like neurotransmitters called dopamine and glutamate might be a risk factor as to what causes schizophrenia. Studies of these chemicals that carry messages between brain cells show differences in the brain structure and central nervous system of people with schizophrenia. To some extent, one can say there is a connection between neurotransmitters as to what causes schizophrenia. This is because drugs that alter the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain are also known to relieve some of the symptoms of schizophrenia.
The third thing that makes a person vulnerable is pregnancy or birth complications. It has been shown by most research that individuals who suffer from schizophrenia are more likely to have experienced complications during or before their birth. These complications might be a low birth weight, premature labor or lack of oxygen (asphyxia) during birth. It can also be that these complications have an indirect effect on brain development.
Triggers are things that can cause schizophrenia to develop in vulnerable individuals. These triggering factors include mainly stress and alcohol abuse. Stressful life events such as bereavement, losing your job, losing your home, divorce, physical abuse, sexual or emotional abuse and end of a relationship are the main psychological triggers of schizophrenia. Although all these types of experiences are stressful, they cannot the tie as to what causes schizophrenia but they however trigger the development of schizophrenia in someone already vulnerable.
The second triggering factor is drug abuse. Studies have shown that drugs do not directly cause schizophrenia but drug misuse increases the risk of having schizophrenia or a similar illness. Symptoms of schizophrenia in people who are susceptible can be triggered by certain drugs like cocaine cannabis, LSD or amphetamines.
Schizophrenia may change the way you think, feel, and act but be rest assured that it is not a death sentence. Receiving the diagnosis of schizophrenia as early as possible will improve your chances of managing the disorder. If you get the proper medication, psychotherapy, self-help strategies you will likely do better.