What Is Schizophrenia? Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that makes it hard for a person think clearly or distinguish reality from fantasy. It is sometimes erroneously referred to as multiple personality or split personality disorder. People who have this disorder may also have trouble acting normally in social settings.
Schizophrenia is a complex disorder that requires lifelong treatment. It is estimated that anywhere from 0.3 to 0.7 percent of people in the world have schizophrenia.
What Causes Schizophrenia?
The exact causes of schizophrenia are not known. However, health researchers believe that genetics and environmental factors can put a person at risk for developing this mental condition. Some of the factors that contribute to schizophrenia include exposure to toxins in the womb, stress and the use of psychoactive drugs during one’s teenage or young adult years.
Common Schizophrenia Symptoms
The symptoms of schizophrenia are typically placed in one of three categories, negative, positive or cognitive. Hallucinations, delusions and disorganized behavior are some of the positive symptoms of this condition. Hallucination is the act of hearing or seeing things that are not really there. People with schizophrenia often hear voices.
A delusion is a belief that is not based on reality. Delusions are typically caused by the misinterpretation of experience or perception. Disorganized behavior can manifest in several ways, including unpredictable agitation and child-like behavior.
Some of the negative symptoms of schizophrenia include social withdrawal, poor hygiene, loss of motivation and apathy. Irritability, sleeping problems, a decrease in performance at work or school and withdrawing from family and friends are some of the cognitive symptoms of this disorder. It is important to note that the symptoms of schizophrenia can easily be confused with other mental disorders.
How Can Schizophrenia Be Treated?
Antipsychotic drugs are typically prescribed to treat schizophrenia. These medications work by altering serotonin and dopamine levels. Abilify, Geodon and Invega are examples of antipsychotic drugs. Antipsychotic drugs can help effectively manage the symptoms, but they do not come without risks. Dizziness, weight gain, tremors, high blood pressure and diabetes are some of the potential risks that come along with taking these types of medications.
People should be cognizant of the fact that long-term use of an antipsychotic medication can put a person at risk for developing tardive dyskinesia. This condition causes a person to make uncontrollable movements. People who are having symptoms of tardive dyskinesia will need to consult with their physician as soon as possible.
Individualized or family therapy may also be recommended for a person who has schizophrenia. Individualized therapy can teach people how to effectively manage their illnesses. Family therapy can help the loved ones of a schizophrenic person get a better understanding of the condition. Additionally, vocational rehabilitation and social skills training can help a person live as independently as possible.
Can Schizophrenia Be Prevented?
There is nothing that really can be done to prevent schizophrenia. The best thing that people can do is seek treatment early on if they suspect that they have this condition.
Jared writes for Schiz Life, a website dedicated to bringing easily accessible information about schizophrenia to the masses.