Schizophrenia

Written by: Vishruti Shrivastava || Graphics by: Vishruti Shrivastava || SEO by: Darshan

Schizophrenia is an uncommon mental condition or a chronic psychiatric disorder. Its symptoms usually occur in the late teens in men and early thirties in women. It is a disorder that severely affects the way a person thinks and exists as a whole and can be the most disabling and chronic condition.We shall discuss about how schizophrenia is diagnosed and treated with the help of this article. In , Schizophrenia people usually are not able to differentiate between what is real and what is not. Usually, the symptoms worsen in cycles or even improve, they are called relapses.

So let us get aware of Schizophrenia and know abouts of it.

how schizophrenia is diagnosed

Symptoms

Schizophrenia usually appears in early adulthood. It affects people in different ways. These ways can be different for different people. The symptoms can be categorized in various subheadings, which will be discussed below-

Positive symptoms

 These symptoms or behaviors are not found in healthy people.

  • Delusions – A person feels delusional when they believe something is true but have no evidence for it. Some delusions may include that they are being controlled or have superpowers.
  • Hallucinations – Hallucinations are ideas or experiences created by the mind which may seem real to a person facing them. These may include, being able to taste, hear or see things that people around aren’t able to experience. 
  • Thought and movement disorders – These include having strange postures or moving in an agitated way and having an unusual way of thinking. There may also be difficulty in understanding and using information.

Negative symptoms

These include withdrawal from the usual emotions, abilities, and behaviors.

  • Lack of expressions
  • Isolations socially
  • Difficulty in controlling impulses or being impulsive
  • Lack of motivation
  • Speaking less
  • Poor cleanliness

Common Symptoms

 These common symptoms are usually overlooked as typical adult teenage behavior but can also be early symptoms of Schizophrenia. These include-

  • Irritability
  • Insomnia or having trouble sleeping
  • Poor academic performance
  • Being socially withdrawn
  • Anxiety
  • Poor concentration

Cognitive symptoms

 These symptoms are those which are really difficult to detect.

  • Having trouble recognizing these symptoms
  • Lack of focus
  • Trouble in understanding information and using it or trouble in executive functioning 

Some of the symptoms also include-

  • Walking slowly
  • Forgetfulness
  • Repetitive gestures or movements
  • Talking in a way that doesn’t make sense
  • Inability to make decisions

Many people don’t realize that they are suffering from this problem and are unwell. There are no specific triggers.  Some symptoms like delusions and hallucinations feel so real to them that they are not able to distinguish between what is actually there and what is made up. So, self-diagnosis of this medical condition is actually very hard.

Causes

So, what actually causes Schizophrenia? The real cause of this condition is unknown but there are some factors that may be considered to be contributing to this condition.

Environmental cause

  • Stressful situations, exposure to toxins, or viral infections may trigger this disorder in people
  • Malnutrition or trauma during or before birth

Genetics

It is highly likely for a person to get affected by the disorder if there is a history of schizophrenia running in the family. If not, the chances of getting affected are less than 1%.

Chemicals and brain

The inability of the brain to control neurotransmitters that affect thinking and behavior. It also seems to develop when there is a lack of dopamine or serotonin in the brain. Another reason can be the presence of abnormal brain structures.

Diagnosis and Treatment

How schizophrenia is diagnosed

Schizophrenia is a lifelong condition and there is no particular test for its diagnosis. Usually, the doctor will run a total medical history and physical exam, few blood tests, and brain images. If they get no lead then a psychologist, psychiatrist, or mental health expert is referred for the further process of diagnosis and treatment. If the above-mentioned symptoms, particularly delusions, hallucinations, and disorganized thoughts and speech, have prolonged effects for six months, then they are diagnosed with schizophrenia.

So how can it be treated?

Again, Schizophrenia is a lifelong condition and there is no cure for it. But there are treatments that can control or reduce the severity of the symptoms.

The potential treatments are-

Psychosocial Therapy

While undergoing therapy, patients usually learn how to live with the symptoms, how to manage them, develop a prevention plan, and identifying signs of relapse.

  • Rehabilitation – trains and focuses on the skills which teach the patients to live independently and function in the community.
  • Individual Psychotherapy – Teaches them problem-solving skills and educating them about their condition
  • Cognitive remediation – Helps in strengthening mental skills like attention, concentration, planning, etc.

Hospitalization

If the patients have severe symptoms and tend to harm themselves or who can’t take care of themselves at home, then the best option for them is to be hospitalized.

Coordinated Specialty Care (CSC)

It is a team that combines therapy with medicine and patients for early treatment of this condition.

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)

This includes sending small electric shocks to the brain through electrodes when the patients are under anesthesia. This helps in improving mood and thinking. This technique is used when therapy or medications don’t work.

Conclusion

Usually, Schizophrenic people are portrayed to be violent. But that is not the case. They prefer to be alone and withdrawn. Less to society, they are more dangerous to themselves. There is no known way to prevent schizophrenia, but early diagnosis and treatment help to avoid getting into serious conditions. Hence, it is important to be open and aware.

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