What is Schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia is a disorder that affects the brain. It is a rare disorder that only pops up in less than 1% of the world’s population. Modern media and T.V has portrayed schizophrenia as a disorder that majorly affects the person and causes them to have violent thoughts and fantasies. In reality, that is not the case at all. Most of the people that are affected by this disorder appear to be withdrawn and quiet.
They behave oddly in social situations and refuse to take part in social situations. It is a very small percentile that actually acts out violently, and that too is done based on their delusions or the fear of them.
Schizophrenia is a relatively calm disorder that can be treated and managed with therapy and medication and is nothing like the evil disorder that mainstream media portrays it to be. It doesn’t always include split personality disorder1 and most of the people affected by it have small symptoms that are easy to manage.
What Causes Schizophrenia?
There is currently no concrete answer to that question. Scientists have multiple theories on what could cause Schizophrenia but no one has any definite proof. Schizophrenia causes have been narrowed down to these 3 theories:
The first theory is that Schizophrenia is carried forward by genes. There is definitely a correlation between family history of Schizophrenia and the descendants having the illness but Schizophrenia can also trigger in people that have no family history of the illness. It is usually triggered when a person goes through hormonal changes such as puberty or when they have to deal with a particularly stressful experience such as the death of a loved one.
The second theory implies that people with Schizophrenia have a different brain structure all together. Their brains might have formed differently when they were still in the womb. There is also evidence to suggest that people with schizophrenia have a different balance of the big three chemicals that maintain your mood; namely Dopamine, Serotonin and Glutamate. The imbalance of these chemicals can happen for a number of reasons including birth complications.
The risk of schizophrenia can also be increased through viruses and bacteria. There is proof that says that babies whose mothers have the flu before birth have a higher chance to develop schizophrenia. It can also develop in people who are hospitalized because of serious infections. The cause of this is still unknown.
Schizophrenia Symptoms and Signs:
Schizophrenia doesn’t just manifest into its final stage immediately. It is preceded by a number of warning signs which, if diagnosed early, can help in rehabilitation of the patient. Warning signs of schizophrenia include:
- Seeing or hearing something that isn’t actually there.
- Feeling like you are being constantly being watched by someone or something.
- Writing or talking in a way that seems illogical to others.
- Having strange body language.
- Being apathetic in important situations.
- Performing worse in studies or work.
- Altering the way you tend to your personal hygiene or appearance.
- Alterations in your personality.
- Removing yourself from social situations.
- Being angry, fearful or irrational with loved ones.
- Problems sleeping or concentrating.
- Becoming increasingly preoccupied with religion or anything relating to the occult.
These are all the warning signs that can happen before the onset of schizophrenia. If a person experiences multiple signs in a two week period then they might be at risk of developing schizophrenia. It is best to seek help if these warning signs pop up.
Schizophrenia symptoms themselves are divided into 4 categories. These 4 categories are:
- Positive Psychotic Symptoms
- Negative Psychotic Symptoms
- Disorganization Symptoms
- Impaired Cognition
Positive Psychotic Symptoms:
Positive psychotic symptoms are those which add to the the mind. It basically means those symptoms that add stimuli which aren’t actually there. This includes Delusions, Hallucinations, illogical thought and speech, and illogical behavior. Delusions include false ideas. This might make people think that someone is spying on them, or that they are someone of extreme importance. Hallucinations include any and all stimuli that are given by the five senses, which aren’t actually there. The most common form of hallucinating is hearing voices of people that aren’t actually there. Illogical thought and speech impairs the person so that they speak in a manner that seems strange to use. They might jump from topic to topic, rhyme words that don’t actually rhyme, or they might repeat the same words and ideas again and again. Illogical behaviour on the other hand, messes with the routine of the individual. In this case they might change the way they stay clean, the way they dress and the way they perform basic tasks.
Negative Psychotic Symptoms are those which remove certain stimuli from the person’s mind. People with negative psychotic symptoms tend to be socially withdrawn, lack emotion, lack empathy and lack a general drive or sense of accomplishment.
Disorganized Behaviour is when the person acts in a way that seems bizarre to us. They might have outbursts of laughter, impulsive decisions and emotional responses that seem out of place.
Impaired cognition is when a person has trouble being as agile as they were. They might walk differently, have trouble performing simple tasks with their fingers or they might lose the ability to be dexterous with their fingers all together.
Treatment of Schizophrenia:
The treatment of schizophrenia is more of a long process rather then just one simple cure. It is not impossible, it just takes a long time to manage the symptoms but it is extremely doable. Treatment of schizophrenia requires therapy as well as certain medications2. The therapy consists of the person coming to terms with any symptoms that they have and learning to trust that they are not real. Therapy often includes the family or work life because through them it becomes easier for the patient to trust what is real and what isn’t.
- WebMD - Dissociative Identity Disorder (Multiple Personality Disorder)
- WebMD - What to Expect From Schizophrenia Medications