According to the American Psychiatric Association, Schizophrenia is a mental disease that affects about 1% of the population in the United States. Schizophrenia is a rather complex and chronic brain disorder. The symptoms that are mostly associated with schizophrenia are visual hallucinations, auditory hallucinations, delusions, disordered thinking and speech, and disorganized behavior. (Videbeck p. 266) Choosing schizophrenia was a rather easy option for me. Working in the healthcare field, I see a lot of psychiatric issues. However, one of my first weeks working in the Intensive Care Unit, we had a patient who was a schizophrenic. I remember witnessing her behaviors, her actions, seeing how her family reacted to her, and listening to her words and wondering what schizophrenia actually was.
What is Schizophrenia and What are the Causes of Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is a mental disease process that causes the person that is affected to have very unusual behaviors such as very strange thoughts, delusions, hallucinations, and a disorientation in thinking and speech. (Videbeck p. 266) Schizophrenia is broken down into two categories: hard symptoms, which includes the delusions, hallucinations, disorganization in speech and there are soft symptoms, which includes the social withdrawal, flat affect, and social discomfort.
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The causes of this disease are still pretty unclear. However, some of the main theories are genetics and a difference in brain chemistry and structure (National Institute of Mental Health). According to the National Institute of Mental Health, scientists know that schizophrenia runs in families, however, there are some people are diagnosed with the disease and don’t have a family member with this disease. Neither of these theories are definite causes of schizophrenia.
How is Schizophrenia Diagnosed
With schizophrenia, diagnosing this disease is not easy. Someone who has taken LSD or methamphetamines can have the same symptoms as someone who has schizophrenia. LSD and methamphetamines change the users perception of reality, much like someone with schizophrenia who is having hallucinations or delusions.
There is not a physical test or a blood-draw lab that will diagnose schizophrenia. A primary care provider who is familiar with the person and their normal behaviors can evaluate their symptoms for a minimum of six months (NAMI). During this six month period, the person being evaluated for schizophrenia must be experiencing at least two of the following symptoms: delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech, and or disorganized behavior (NAMI).
What are the Treatment Options for Schizophrenia
Antipsychotic medications are the main treatment option for schizophrenia (NAMI). Medication compliance is one main issue with schizophrenia. When the patient is experiencing hard symptoms such as the hallucinations, they may be hearing voices telling them thing about the medications and they don’t take them for a few days, or even weeks.
Also, if they are having delusions and seeing things, they could be having delusions about the medications. Aside from medication, there are other treatment options. According to the American Psychiatric Association, psychological treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy or supportive psychotherapy are used to help alleviate the symptoms and enhance the overall function of the person living with this diagnosis (Parekh).
Schizophrenia is not a disease that is easily diagnosed or even treated for that matter. It isn’t a walk into the office and “”oh you have schizophrenia””. It takes months and sometimes years to even be diagnosed with this disease. Back in the day, people thought that schizophrenia required the person with that diagnosis be locked up in an insane asylum because they were “”crazy””. However, throughout the years, people have gained knowledge about it and just treat it as a mental illness.
I learned a tremendous amount of information on schizophrenia, not only in this paper, but just reading the articles that were associated with it. Schizophrenia is a complex disease that seems to be treated well with medication, but if the patient is non-compliant due to hallucinations, delusions, or whatever else that patient feels towards not taking their meds, it would make it much harder to treat.
Being in the nursing program, I am excited to learn not only about schizophrenia, but mental illnesses that affect millions of people day in and day out. I enjoyed psychology in high school and can’t wait to advance my learning about these mental illnesses one day. A unresolved issue with this topic is the actual cause of schizophrenia. There are theories upon theories of what could possibly cause it, but no definite answer. Writing in APA, if done correctly of course, was not that bad. It just takes a little tweaking to ensure that it is done correctly.