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Schizophrenia, a chronic mental health disorder

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The term schizophrenia refers to a mental health condition that comes in many varieties. One of the most common types is seen in a person who has delusion in hearing or experiences hallucinations. He may feel intense fear or other types of feelings that are false.

Symptoms differ from person to person and age to age. So each person's experience will be different and the doctor will tailor the treatment for every individual. It's a lifelong condition but proper treatment and medication may help one to reduce one’s symptoms. In this article, we’re about to know schizophrenia and its, types, test and diagnosis, medicine, and cure.

 

Schizophrenia definition

“Schizophrenia is a chronic and severe mental disorder that affects a person’s thinking, feeling, and behavior. It’s characterized by delusion, hallucination, and distortion in thinking, emotions, language”.

Schizophrenia symptoms

There are different types of this particular disease and each of them shows different symptoms. Schizophrenia symptoms are classified in two bold lines:

 

Schizophrenia positive symptoms

  1. Incidents that might start to happen are told as schizophrenia-positive symptoms. Positive symptoms are highly detrimental thinking, feelings,  or perceptions that show the person can’t differentiate between real and what is not there. Here the word ”positive” means the existence of symptoms. They include:

  2. Delusions: These are fixed and false beliefs. The person feels like someone is to harm or harass him or a big catastrophe is about to happen. Sometimes they think someone else is in love with him/her or he has exceptional ability or fame.

  3. Hallucination:  People with schizophrenia might see, feel, hear, or smell unreal things. Hallucinations can be in any of the senses but auditory hallucination is the most common.

  4. Disorganized thoughts and speech: Schizophrenic patients often find it difficult to organize their thoughts. They always deliver a speech that makes no sense.

  5. Trouble concentrating: A schizophrenic cannot follow someone who is talking to him which might seem like he is zoning out or distracted. Sometimes he might lose track of what is going on. Most often their behaviors are not focused on a goal.

  6. Disorganized behavior: Some schizophrenics show extremely imbalanced movements. Sometimes they become childish silly and agitated, and now and then they become perfectly still for a long time at a stretch, which experts call being catatonic. But people with the disease are not violent.

 

Schizophrenia Negative symptoms

  • Things that might stop happening are called schizophrenia negative symptoms. Negative symptoms are the lack of physical expression or the ability to function normally. Here the word “negative” refers to the absence or reduced existence of symptoms. They include:

  1. Anhedonia:  A schizophrenic person might not enjoy anything or feel pleasure, which is called “Anhedonia” in medical terms.

  2. Affective flattening: The person with this disorder may lose the ability to show facial expressions in response to conversations like they have no emotions. They may not smile normally too.

  3. Alogia: A lack of additional, unprompted seen in normal talk, so answer to questions might be brief and concrete, with less spontaneous speech is called alogia.

  4. Avolition: Schizophrenic people have lack of motivation or ability to finish what they started. Most often they can’t do tasks that have a goal. Sometimes they find it dificult to follow a routine.

This ailment typically starts to show its symptoms in the late teen years to the early thirties. But in male symptoms begins earlier comparing to female. In men, the age might be early to mid-20s when in women it might begin in the late 20s.

 

Schizophrenia cause

No single specific cause is discovered, but several factors are found in people who have it. They include:

  • Genetic factors: Many ask is schizophrenia genetic? Experts say that there is only a 1% chance of developing it if there is no history of schizophrenia in a family. While the chances of a person who has a history of it in his family is 10%.

  • Biochemical factors: Certain biochemical substances in the brain especially dopamine is believed to be involved in schizophrenia.

Types of schizophrenia

Till 2013 Schizophrenia DSM-4 classified it into 5 distinct types which include:

  • Paranoid type: This is the most common type. Delusions and hallucinations are the symptoms that make a person paranoid, emotions and speech may not be affected.

  • Catatonic type: A rare condition that strikes motor functionality. It makes a person either perfectly still or significantly agitated.

  • Disorganized type: It is characterized by failure in organizing thoughts and speech. Also, It includes disturbance in emotional expression. The person may decline to do daily usual functions such as bathing, dressing, or brushing teeth.

  • Undifferentiated type: It is a classification that is used when an individual show symptom which fit into two or more of the other subtypes of schizophrenia. Such as if a person has delusion and motor malfunctioning at the same time.

  • Residual type: This type is characterized when a person has a history of schizophrenia for at least one month but now he doesn't have any of the positive symptoms. But there will be continuing evidence of disturbance as indicated in schizophrenia negative symptoms such as anhedonia, alogia, etc.

But from 2013 when the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) was released, it removed all the types of schizophrenia. The schizophrenia DSM 5 removed the subtypes due to their limited diagnostic stability, low reliability, and poor validity. These subtypes also have not been shown to point out distinctive patterns of treatment response or longitudinal course.

 

Schizophrenia diagnosis

There is no single test to diagnose it and that’s why the first is to consult with a primary care doctor or psychiatrist. It can usually be diagnosed if some have shown at least two or more of the following symptoms most of the time of a month: hallucinations, delusions, or, incoherent speech. The person should suspend all other possible causes such as recreational drug use or bipolar disorder.

 

Schizophrenia test

There is no laboratory test to diagnose schizophrenia. Yet, the psychiatrist may want to check urine and blood to know if alcohol or drug abuse is causing the symptoms. Doctors also use various imaging tests such as MRI, CT scans to rule out other possible conditions like a brain tumor.

 

Cure for Schizophrenia

It is a lifelong condition and currently, there is no cure for it. But proper treatment and a strong support system may help to manage symptoms and enjoy a fulfilling meaningful life. 

Some drugs are effective in treating it such as chlorpromazine, risperidone(Risperdal), haloperidol(Haldol). Most of them either decrease the secretion of dopamine at dopaminergic nerve endings or decrease the effect of dopamine on subsequent neurons. Some say that these drugs have adverse effects such as neurological symptoms and weight gain.

 

Final words

Schizophrenia is a strong mental problem that includes issues with cognition, behavior, movement, and thinking. Though there is no schizophrenia cure, it is important to consult a doctor if someone presenting schizophrenia symptoms. It is a lifelong condition but treatment can help manage the condition. Most of the time the schizophrenic doesn't want to admit his condition and those hallucinations and delusions seem so real to them that they think those are real. Want a bit more info about this disease ? Check out what WHO says about schizophrenia.

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Veer Singh

Veer Singh