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What is Schizophrenia? Symptoms, Signs, Causes, and Treatments

Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia

There are several mental disorders, of which some are curable, and some are not, like schizophrenia. It is a mental disorder involving delusions and hallucinations. The patient has weird thoughts that sometimes lead to suicide, so it’s a severe disease.

Serious schizophrenia patients almost become disabled due to their behavior. The disease is not curable, but certain treatment methods can reduce its intensity. If you treat it earlier, you can handle it before it gets serious.

What Are The Symptoms Of Schizophrenia?

You can identify schizophrenia from patients’ behavior, how they think, and express their emotions. The symptoms vary from person to person; however, they include delusions and a lack of interest in life, etc. let’s look at the symptoms in detail.

Delusions or false beliefs: in this case, the patient develops false beliefs which don’t exist at all. Such as, they think that someone is harassing them, or they are famous or extraordinary, or something serious is going to happen. This kind of delusion is very common among people with schizophrenia.

Lack of communication: the patient can’t communicate well due to disorganized thoughts. Their answers to any questions are not clear or related to the real issue. In rare cases, the person uses meaningless phrases that you can call the word salad.

Hallucinations or illusions: The patients see or hear something that does not exist, but they believe in it firmly. It’s a kind of illusion, but hearing hallucination is very common in such patients.

Highly Abnormal behavior: this condition involves different behaviors like sudden agitation or a childish attitude. The patient can’t complete a task due to a lack of focus. In this case, the person with schizophrenia can’t follow instructions, has a weird posture, can’t respond properly, shows useless movements, or involves in unnecessary things.

Some negative symptoms: In this case, the person with schizophrenia can’t function as a normal individual. For instance, you may become indifferent or don’t take care of your hygiene. You are unable to make eye contact while talking to another person. You don’t take an interest in daily activities, socially withdraw yourself, and cannot stay happy.

So, different patients show different symptoms that may get severe with time. Sometimes the symptoms are temporary but reappear from time to time, whereas some symptoms are always there.

Remember that these symptoms vary from gender to gender. Like, they appear in men in their early or mid-20s. Women may develop schizophrenia in their late 20s, but you won’t see this disorder in kids. Likewise, those above 45 would hardly get schizophrenia.

Identifying Schizophrenia in Teens

Teenagers have the same symptoms of schizophrenia as adults, but they are hard to identify. These symptoms develop in stages, like the most common which happen during the teenage development period, include;

  • Less performance in school
  • Poor communication with family and friends
  • Lack of sleep
  • No motivation
  • Mood disorders and depression

Sometimes teenagers get involved in drugs like marijuana or LSD and develop the same symptoms as schizophrenia. However, schizophrenic teenagers have minimum delusions but more visual hallucinations than adults with the same disorder.

What Is The Right Time To See Your Doctor?

Generally, friends or family should identify the abnormal behavior of an individual and consult with the doctor. The patient is often unaware of such a disorder or looks for medical help.

Dealing With A Schizophrenia Patient

If you understand abnormal behaviors and find certain schizophrenia symptoms in some loved one, you should convince him or her to see a doctor.  Though it’s not that easy, your support and understanding can help the patient understand the seriousness of this disorder. You can find a competitive doctor to treat schizophrenia.

Sometimes, the patient hurts others or can’t take care of their health, so you should call 911 to seek help. Such a person needs instant help from a mental health expert. Even hospitalization is necessary in some cases. You can also contact the state police or a mental health agency in case of an emergency.

Handling A Schizophrenic With Suicidal Thoughts

Suicidal attempts are not new among people with schizophrenia, and you should immediately call 911 if your loved one attempts them. Also, don’t leave the patient alone, and be there during the emergency treatment. Your support and love can help such a patient recover and get rid of suicidal thoughts.

What Are The Causes Of Schizophrenia?

Though the causes of schizophrenia are still unknown, however, several studies are there regarding the disorder. According to researchers, various elements contribute to schizophrenia, such as environment, genetics, and brain chemistry.

Certain brain chemicals enhance schizophrenia, such as glutamate and dopamine. Schizophrenia patients possess a specific brain structure, and their central nervous system is also different, as shown by the neuroimaging studies. However, the researchers have different opinions, and they are not sure about these differences and believe it’s a brain disorder.

Major Risk Factors Of Schizophrenia

Though the causes of schizophrenia are not so evident, a few factors trigger this disease or cause it, such as;

  • If someone in the family had schizophrenia
  • Birth issues including  viruses, toxins, or malnutrition that affected the brain growth
  • The use of certain drugs during teenage, such as psychotropic or psychoactive medications, to relax the mind

Impacts Of Schizophrenia

Several complications can happen due to schizophrenia if you don’t treat it on time. Your whole life may change due to schizophrenia affecting your career and relationships. Let’s look at these complications;

  • Disorders like OSD or obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Suicidal thoughts or attempts
  • Excessive use of drugs or alcohol
  • Lack of focus on studies
  • Lack of communication and isolation
  • Financial problems
  • Certain health issues
  • Aggressive attitude
  • Vulnerable to victimization

Preventing Schizophrenia

It is hard to get rid of schizophrenia completely; however, you can reduce its intensity and prevent it from reappearing frequently. The researchers believe that you can treat it earlier by identifying its risk factors. Different treatments are available in this case.

Schizophrenia Treatments In Practice

The main goal of schizophrenia treatment is to minimize its symptoms and prevent it from reappearing. Let’s go through all treatment methods.

Medical treatment: the practitioner prescribes certain medications to a person with schizophrenia, such as antipsychotics. Though these drugs can’t cure schizophrenia, they can reduce intense symptoms like negative thinking, delusions, and hallucinations. The FDA-approved medication for this disorder is Clozapine that is also very helpful in reducing suicidal thoughts.

Multiple psychosocial Therapies: different therapies are available along with medication to help reduce schizophrenia faster. Like, rehabilitation, individual therapy, cognitive therapy, family therapy, and group therapy. Let’s explore them briefly;

In rehabilitation, experts help people with schizophrenia to develop their social skills and learn new skills. It helps patients live an independent life without facing difficulties.

On the other hand, cognitive therapy improves a patient’s learning skills to solve a problem through information. It involves coaching, drills, and computer-related tasks to enhance memory, focus, organization, or planning.

Individual psychotherapy helps the patient understand schizophrenia and how to cope with it. At the same time, problem-solving is another skill available during this therapy.

Likewise, family therapy is important to help the family cope with a close one with schizophrenia and support them throughout the disease.

There are also support groups for people with schizophrenia that involve a continuous process. For example, patients can discuss their feelings with like-minded or groups having the same disorder.

CSC or coordinated specialty care: this treatment method is a combination of therapy and medication, and it’s necessary at the early stage. It also involves the patient’s teachers, employers, or other social relationships.  The role of the patient’s family is crucial and helps the patient recover fast and live a normal life.

Emergency treatment: It involves hospitalization when the symptoms get severe. The patient hurts others physically or has no one to take care of their needs like taking food or dressing up, etc.

ECT Or Electroconvulsive Therapy

This treatment can work when schizophrenia gets worse. The treatment involves electrodes attached to the patient’s scalp after anesthesia that may cause a mild electric shock to the patient’s brain and help improve thoughts and mood. The therapy includes 2 to 3 sessions a week for a few months.

Seizures happen during the treatment, but it is controllable. Many scientists don’t understand how ECT can help treat schizophrenia, but researchers believe it creates neurotransmitters. However, the treatment is not common as it’s not well-proven, but it helps when the medications stop affecting a schizophrenic or the patient gets into severe depression.

New Treatment Developments

Some experts and researchers are studying DBS, the deep brain stimulation already working in Parkinson’s patients or those with tremors. Surgical treatment is also in practice where the surgeon puts electrodes in a schizophrenia patient that enhances their perception and improves thoughts.

Conclusion

Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that is not curable; however, you can reduce its symptoms through medications and multiple therapies. Its causes are not clear, but genetics and birth-related issues may be behind this disease. A person with schizophrenia can live a normal life through family support, timely diagnosis, and the right treatment.

Written by HealthRadar360

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