Schizophrenia

For a very long time, and throughout recorded history, the mental disorder that we now call schizophrenia was looked upon with fright and bewilderment. Many who had schizophrenia in the past were thought to be possessed by the devil and were ostracized by their communities. Today, a lot more is known about this debilitating brain disorder. Still, schizophrenia can baffle both medical professionals and everyday people.

Schizophrenia Symptoms

People suffering from schizophrenia can have the quality of their everyday lives severely diminish. They can suffer a wide array of symptoms that are not only disabling but can prevent them from leading normal lives. Many who have been diagnosed with schizophrenia have a hard time holding a job, taking care of themselves, and often need assistance from others that can provide them with reliable care.

The symptoms of this severe chronic disorder can range between three different sets, classified as positive symptoms, negative symptoms, and cognitive symptoms.

Positive Symptoms of Schizophrenia

Positive symptoms are psychotic behaviors that are not observed in normal people. They include:

  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Thought disorders

Negative Symptoms of Schizophrenia

Negative symptoms of schizophrenia are slightly harder to identify, as they are basic disruptions with a person’s normal emotions and behaviors. They include:

  • Doesn’t show that much pleasure in everyday life
  • Cannot begin or carry out any activities that are planned
  • Presence of flat affect. Flat affect is when a person’s face doesn’t move, and he or she talks in avoice that is in a monotonous or dull tone.

Cognitive Symptoms of Schizophrenia

Cognitive symptoms are a lot like negative symptoms and can also be hard to recognize. These types of symptoms are often discovered by a variety of tests and evaluations that a doctor can perform. They include:

  • Has trouble focusing or paying attention in general
  • Exhibits problems with working memory
  • Executive functioning is very poor. This means that a person cannot understand information and cannot use it to make any decisions

Schizophrenia Causes

Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that can be caused by a number of factors. Many believe that there is no single cause for this illness. Rather, genetics, the environment, and the individual’s brain structure and chemistry can all be causes of schizophrenia.

  • Schizophrenia is based on a combination of genetic, psychological, and environmental factors that encourage the manifestation of certain risk genes. When these risk genes come into play they promote the presence of schizophrenia.
  • An imbalance in the neurotransmitters of the brain can cause schizophrenia as well, such as unequal levels of dopamine and glutamate.
  • Schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are a lot alike, and this comes from the same risk genes that they both carry. However, despite this information, the causes for it are still unknown.

Schizophrenia Diagnosis

Diagnosing schizophrenia is a complicated process, and while there are no explicit tests for schizophrenia, information gathered from a number of sources can help ascertain which illness the patient has.

  • When a mental health diagnosis is made for any form of mental problem, doctors usually begin by gathering comprehensive information from three sources: the patient’s medical history, mental health history, and genetics
  • Information from all of these sources helps to diagnose any form of mental illness, as there is no one test that can confirm a diagnosis for schizophrenia or any other mental issue.
  • If capable of doing so, a person suffering from symptoms of schizophrenia will be asked to fill out a self-test questionnaire.
  • A physical examination is also performed by the medical practitioner or the patient’s primary care physician.
  • A doctor will also ensure that no other medical condition is causing the patient’s particular psychological symptoms.
  • Discovering which exact symptoms the patient suffers from is imperative when devising the most effective treatment plan possible in order to treat the schizophrenia itself.

Schizophrenia Treatment

Treatment for schizophrenia is entirely dependent on the diagnosis made for each case.

People with schizophrenia are at a much higher risk to develop substance abuse, depression, anxiety disorder, or thoughts or attempts at suicide. Ensuring that there aren’t any other mental problems evident in the patient, in addition to schizophrenia, is imperative when determining proper treatment.

  • Medication is often a successful form of treatment for schizophrenics.
  • Antipsychotic medications help to lessen the impact of psychotic symptoms, and are commonly prescribed with one or more other psychiatric drugs to maximize the overall benefit for the one with schizophrenia.
  • A combination of medications is usually very successful in helping to relieve a lot of key symptoms.