Schizophrenia is a severe psychological ailment. In this, people often interpret reality abnormally . Patients diagnosed with schizophrenia are prone to hallucinations and unrealistic illusions.
Schizophrenia is one of the most challenging disorders not only for patients but for caregivers as well.
People diagnosed with schizophrenia need constant treatment. If diagnosed and treated early, it might help to prevent any adverse effects and control the symptom. Any schizophrenia symptoms need immediate attention before serious complications arise, as it requires lifelong care and observation.
How to Distinguish between various Types of Schizophrenia?
● Paranoid Schizophrenia
The patients have symptoms like delusions and hallucinations.
● Catatonic Schizophrenia
The patients rarely react to any stimuli and possess odd body movements.
● Hebephrenic Schizophrenia
The patients have disorganized behavior. This is why it is also known as disorganized schizophrenia.
● Residual Schizophrenia
The patients have a poor attention span, are easily withdrawn emotionally, and are mentally disorganized.
● Undifferentiated Schizophrenia
The patients show several symptoms that it becomes hard to identify what is bothering them and may not fit in any other category. Hence they are categorized as undifferentiated schizophrenia.
What are the Major Symptoms of Schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia is a neurological disorder that triggers several problems in an individual. The significant impact of schizophrenia is the erratic changes in thinking power, human behavior, and frequent change in emotions. Signs and symptoms may vary, but the common ones are:
People diagnosed with schizophrenia are delusional, having false beliefs. Delusions are the most common symptom, occurring in over 90% of the patients. Often, they have a constant fear of getting mistreated or harmed by others.
The patients diagnosed with schizophrenia sometimes hallucinate, i.e., see, hear, smell, or feel objects that are not present. These patients experience certain things that are unintelligible to others.
● Disorganized Thinking
Effective communication becomes challenging and decreases, and the patients are more likely to stay quiet or answer partially. When pursued, their responses are different and irrational because of the disorganized thinking caused by the neurological disorder.
● Abnormal Behavior
The patients respond to the situations indifferently, which is observed as abnormal behavior. It can include inappropriate postures, resistance in understanding, lack of response, or unusual movement.
What are the Myths Associated with Schizophrenia?
The complexity and lack of knowledge about schizophrenia explain why there are several myths and misconceptions about the disorder.
Schizophrenia hampers the person’s ability to react or understand the normal life patterns. With limited access to information, taboos exist about the disease. We have listed some points that will help to clear the misconceptions
●Suffers from Split Personality
The most common symptoms of this disorder are delusions and hallucinations, making people believe that the patients have split personality(dissociative disorder). Split personality is different from schizophrenia .The fact is, due to the symptoms, the patients normally hear or see unrealistic objects that contradict their ability to differentiate between reality and imagination.
Another myth is that schizophrenic patients become violent and dangerous. The patients with schizophrenia feel isolated and socially withdrawn, and mostly they become a victim of their thoughts. The fact they are dangerous to others or violent is untrue.
●The Patient Cannot Work
With proper medication and regular therapy, the patients can work quite well in a calm environment. It has been seen that when the patients are provided with proper treatment, they tend to be more efficient than anticipated.
●Sudden Changes in Personality keep happening
Each patient with schizophrenia reacts differently. Sometimes the patients might find particular objects triggering. It is important to keep them away from any triggering event that can negatively impact their wellbeing. Proper medication and regular therapy can help them to handle such situations in a better way.
●Long-term Hospitalizations are needed
Some patients get hospitalized, but it happens when the disorder becomes extreme, requiring long-term care. When proper treatment and out-patient care is given to the patient, the need for getting them hospitalized subsides.
●It is only a genetic cause
If your family members are diagnosed with schizophrenia, then you too are at risk. But risk factors other than genes can trigger this disorder; and it is also not that if someone in the family has schizophrenia , you also will necessarily get it .
When is the Right Time to Visit a Doctor?
People symptomatic of schizophrenia are likely to be unaware of situations, as they are delusional, frightened, and confused. If you observe or feel the person is getting isolated, acting suicidal, or showing unusual behavior, it is time to seek medical attention.
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What are the Causes Behind Schizophrenia?
It is not known what causes schizophrenia. However, experts believe that a combination of brain chemistry, genetics and environment contribute to the development of this disorder.
Problems with some naturally occurring brain chemicals, such as neurotransmitters called glutamate and dopamine, cam contribute to schizophrenia. Neuroimaging studies reveal differences in central nervous system and the brain structure of people with schizophrenia.
The exact causes are still unknown. However, some major elements that can trigger schizophrenia are:
- Structural and chemical changes in the brain
- Birth complications
- Premature labor
- Childhood trauma or PTSD
- Psychological and environmental factors
- Societal factors
What are the Common Risk Factors Associated with Schizophrenia?
- Family history of schizophrenia
- Exposure to viruses, toxins, drugs, or severe infection that affects the brain
- Taking mind-altering drugs [psychoactive or psychotropic drugs)
How to Diagnose Schizophrenia?
Based on the symptoms, doctors conduct several examinations to look for neurological patterns in the brain. Steps for diagnosis include:
- Physical Examination. It is done to rule out the other problems with the same symptoms.
- Screening Tests. MRI and CT scan are conducted to rule out other causes, and alcohol and drug test screening is done.
- Psychiatric Examination. A mental health test is done, where a doctor asks about changing moods, hallucinations, substance abuse, and potential suicidal threats.
- Diagnostic criteria for schizophrenia. A mental health professional or a doctor may make use of the criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association.
What is the Treatment Plan for Schizophrenia?
The patients diagnosed with schizophrenia require lifelong treatment, even if symptoms have reduced. Using psychological therapy and medications can help the patients to manage the condition.
Antipsychotic medications help control the symptoms that severely affect the dopamine level. However, these medications have serious side effects on the patients; this is why most of them avoid taking any. Second gerenation antipsychotic medication like Aripiprazole
have less side effects .
Other medicines may also help, like antidepressants or anti-anxiety drugs. It can take several weeks to notice an improvement in symptoms.
Based on the diagnosis of the patient, psychosocial interventions are prescribed. It can result from social interventions, individual training, family therapy, counseling sessions, social skills training, and vocational rehabilitation.
Sometimes the symptoms and complications worsen, so it becomes important to hospitalize the patient to ensure safety, nutritious diet, and sufficient sleep.
Sometimes adults do not respond to the medications and other treatments, so electroconvulsive therapy is conducted to treat them.
What Complications Can Occur if Schizophrenia is not Treated?
- Anxiety disorders
- Suicidal attempts
- Substance abuse
- Aggressive behavior
- Social isolation
- Obsessive-compulsive disorders
What are the Preventive Measures for Schizophrenia?
There is no solution for preventing schizophrenia. However, if diagnosed and treated, early symptoms can be controlled. Still, there is ongoing research on this disease to understand and check if there is any possible way for early diagnosis of the same. This will immensely help in creating better treatment .
The signs and symptoms of schizophrenia can be a challenge to cope with , for any individual but with the right treatment and constant care, it can be managed. Schizophrenia occurs in episodes and with the right care and help, you can learn to identify the periodz of remission and try to limit the frequency of episodes occurring in the future.
Several people have been seen to manage the disorder and work functionally with proper support, treatment, and therapy.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How can you notice the symptoms?
When you see a sudden change in behavior, speech, or actions, you need to go for a consultation. Mostly if you have a family history of schizophrenia, you need to take immediate action after observing unusual symptoms like isolation, abnormal thought patterns, concentration problems, and movement disorders.
What kind of treatment is required if it is diagnosed late?
Schizophrenia needs life-long treatment. So even if diagnosed early, you need to pay close attention and therapy; the same applies if diagnosed late. However, it depends on how the patient is reacting to the disorder, based on which the doctor will provide you with therapy and oral medications.
Will there be aggressive side-effects with the medication?
The patients can have mood swings, dizziness, restlessness, constipation, nausea, low blood pressure, seizures, and blurred vision.
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