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Do you know anyone with a mental disorder? Have you ever felt nervous around them? Do you feel it is hard to understand their feelings? Let me tell you about schizophrenia. I decided to further research schizophrenia when one of my brothers was diagnosed with it a couple of years ago. It was weird at first because I didn’t feel comfortable around him due to the way he was acting. Even though it wasn’t in a harmful way, I never knew how he was going to act each day. So first, I will discuss what I found out about schizophrenia and a few facts I found through research. Second, I will discuss its signs and symptoms along with complications. Last, I will explain possible treatments and how to seek help.
Schizophrenia is a brain disorder that interrupts the way a person thinks, acts, expresses emotions, perceives reality, and relates to others. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Schizophrenia is a serious mental illness that interferes with a person’s ability to think clearly, manage emotions, make decisions and relate to others. It can occur at any age, but it is more common in those in their late adolescence and early adulthood. Men have a higher risk of developing schizophrenia than women and they are diagnosed at an early age. Schizophrenia can be caused by genetics, the environment, brain chemicals and or substance use. A doctor must see factors that could be ruled out such as brain tumors, medical conditions and any other psychiatric diagnoses.
How it works
According to “”SARDAA””, Schizophrenia and Related Disorders Alliance of America, Schizophrenia can be found in approximately 1.1% of the world’s population. Approximately 3.5 million people are diagnosed with schizophrenia. Most develop this illness between the ages of 16 and 25. 50% of individuals who are diagnosed with this disorder receive no treatment. According to the textbook “”Abnormal Psychology: In a changing world”” by Jeffrey Nevid, Spencer Rathus, and Beverly Greene; Schizophrenia has 2 phases. Prodromal phase which is where the individual has unusual thoughts or abnormal perceptions. They have difficulties with their everyday routines. A first sign of a prodrome is a lack of attention to their appearance. Residual phase is where the person has trouble thinking or speaking clearly. During this stage flagrant psychotic behaviors are absent, but they are still impaired. DSM requires that psychotic behaviors are present during some part of the course of the disorder and signs of the disorder must be present for at least six months and must have been active and prominent for at least one month if not treated successfully.
Now, onto some of schizophrenias signs, symptoms and complications. People who suffer from this disorder can be confused about their identities which is a form of impairment. They fail to perceive their own behaviors as well as others. They often feel attacked verbally or emotionally when they can’t comprehend what is going on. They may also show signs of catatonic behaviors which means they are unaware of the environment and may maintain a rigid posture. According to the Mayo Clinic, schizophrenia creates problems when a person is thinking, creates behavior and emotional problems. Symptoms may include: delusions, hallucinations, disorganized thinking involving their speech as well as a negative part to it all. Delusions and hallucinations are similar according to the Mayo Clinic. Delusions are false beliefs that are not real and hallucinations usually involve seeing or hearing something that doesn’t exist. There are no known reasons to what causes them to hallucinate but have suspected disturbances in the brain chemistry. Disorganized speech in schizophrenia means the person’s communication is impaired and they cannot answer questions completely. Negative parts to schizophrenia can include a reduced or lack of ability to handle basic daily routines such as personal hygiene, showing no emotion or eye contact when someone is speaking to them. There is no known cause to schizophrenia but people believe it has to involve genetics, the chemistry of their brain and any contributions from their environment. Mayo Clinic states, that problems with naturally brain chemicals can include dopamine and glutamate which are neurotransmitters that can help lead to schizophrenia in an individual. Therefore, schizophrenia is described as a brain disease/disorder of the brain.
In reference to the National Health Service (NHS), Schizophrenia can fall under being developed by genetics. It can run in the family but there isn’t a particular gene responsible for the development. Even though there is no known cause to it there are risk factors of developing it including having a family history of it, increased immune system activation and taking mind-altering drugs during teen years and young adulthood according to the Mayo Clinic. People with schizophrenia have shown subtle differences in the structure of their brains according to them. Complications of schizophrenia come into effect if the person is not treated for it. According to the Mayo Clinic, schizophrenia can cause suicide attempts, self-injury, anxiety disorders and obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, abuse of alcohol or other drugs, social isolation and health and medical problems.
Schizophrenia treatment all depends on the individual being evaluated. Each person develops similar symptoms if not all symptoms but they have a different effect on each person. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, Schizophrenia can be treated with Non-pharmacological therapy or Pharmacological therapy. The main purpose in treating schizophrenia is to target the symptoms, prevent relapse and increase adaptive functioning. Psychotherapy is a form of Non-pharmacological treatment which focuses on individual, group and cognitive behaviors. Pharmacological therapy is the mean of prescribing patient’s medications. Many medications work but some have effects on patients in which they stop taking them making their symptoms with schizophrenia continue to increase. Each medication is either typical (first generation) and atypical (second generation) involving chlorpromazine, haloperidol, asenapine, lurasidone, and risperidone. Many effects these drugs create are headaches, weight gain, loss of appetite, trouble sleeping etc.
In regards to treatment and help with schizophrenia the American Psychiatric Association states that “”Medication can reduce symptoms and greatly reduce future worsening of symptoms. Psychological treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy or supportive psychotherapy may reduce symptoms and enhance function, and other treatments are aimed at reducing stress, supporting employment or improving social skills.”” Although being diagnosed and treated for schizophrenia are recommended, there can also be an issue with substance misuse. People with schizophrenia have a higher risk when it comes to misusing drugs than others. As far as help, people who are supportive whether its family or friends or a doctor all have an impact on a person dealing with schizophrenia. Therapy can help with developing social skills, coping with stress, or helping find a way of coping with their feelings.
According to the American Psychiatric Association, supported-employment programs help a person with schizophrenia obtain self-efficiency. Also, family support is a big one because these are people that know them best and for them to have their family on their side no matter what creates confidence. This makes them feel like they are not alone and that they have more than doctors, or therapists to talk to about their feelings or concerns within their everyday life. Many people dealing with schizophrenia are very anti-social because they feel different and they feel like people do not understand them. For example, my brother lost a lot of friends during his hard times with dealing with schizophrenia. A lot of them only came around when he showed signs of being okay but no one was there for him other than family when he had episodes.
Other ways to help someone dealing with schizophrenia are to always respond calmly to their hallucinations and pay attention to their triggers. What exactly sets them off or makes them react in a way that seems dangerous to themselves or others. Sometimes those dealing with schizophrenia are not always dangerous or do not think about harming themselves or others around them. Make sure you do not isolate them or place them in a category that makes them feel different. Make sure that they are taking the medications they are prescribed as well as making sure they are taking the right dose and not exceeding the amount recommended. If they say they are feeling different due to the medications, then you should take them serious. Those suffering with schizophrenia can be treated and helped emotionally as well. So, if you know anyone don’t be afraid to discuss what you observe if you feel they need help.
“”About Schizophrenia.”” Sardaa, sardaa.org/resources/about-schizophrenia/.
“”NAMI.”” NAMI: Alliance on Mental Illness, www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-Conditions/Schizophrenia.
NEVID, JEFFREY S. PH. D. ABNORMAL PSYCHOLOGY IN A CHANGING WORLD: Books a La Carte Edition. 10th ed., PRENTICE HALL, 2017.
“”Schizophrenia.”” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 10 Apr. 2018, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/schizophrenia/symptoms-causes/syc-20354443.
NHS Choices, NHS, www.nhs.uk/conditions/schizophrenia/.
Krishna R. Patel, Dylan Atkinson. “”Schizophrenia: Overview and Treatment Options””. PubMed Central (PMC), 2018, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4159061/. Accessed 6 Dec 2018.
Parekh, Ranna. “”What Is Schizophrenia?”” Warning Signs of Mental Illness, July 2017, www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/schizophrenia/what-is-schizophrenia.
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