What Is Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a highly complex disorder and is really a group of psychoses. Broadly, it is a disorder of thought and mood which manifests itself in maintaining and focusing attention and forming concepts. This can lead to false perceptions and beliefs, trouble in understanding reality and difficulties with language and expressing emotion.sni

One of the biggest misconceptions about schizophrenia is that it means split personality like the fictional character Jekyll and Hyde. This is a misnomer, a mythical symptom of the condition that causes the misleading metaphorical use of the word schizophrenic. Split personality is a completely different disorder known as Multiple Personality where two, three or even more distinct personalities inhabit an individual.sni

Symptoms of Schizophrenia

Hallucinations are one of several positive symptoms. Others include delusions, hearing voices and racing thoughts. Cognitive dysfunction, apathy, lethargy and lack of motivation and social engagement are the negative symptoms of schizophrenia. These symptoms are much less amenable to medication, and are often more damaging to the patient’s ability to function. In recent years it has been increasingly appreciated that this collection of symptoms, which typically first manifest in early adulthood, represents a late stage and the illness may rather be a collection of syndromes.sni

Causes of Disorder

It is generally agreed that schizophrenia is caused by a combination of factors rather than a single one. Globally, approximately one percent of the population will experience schizophrenia in their lifetime. Genetics is generally seen as the likely cause. There will be a higher chance of suffering from schizophrenia if it runs in the family.sni

Some people may develop symptoms as a result of using cannabis or other street drugs such as cocaine and amphetamines. It could also be caused by the patient internalizing traumatic memories and over thinking about them, as it can be self-destructive. Patients with schizophrenia often have post-traumatic stress disorder.sni

Post traumatic stress disorder in shizophrenia -shifanews

This might explain why some people with schizophrenia become aggressive at times. Moreover, the over thinking about traumatic events might explain the negative symptoms of the illness. This idea might also explain why patients are prone to smoking and drinking coffee excessively as both stimulants can enhance cognitive ability or at least concentration.sni

It is also possible that both substances in themselves cause or worsen schizophrenia. Tobacco was originally used for its hallucinogenic properties and caffeine is thought to contribute to anxiety in sensitive individuals, which could further contribute to paranoia. Patients also show abnormal neurological activity, and this too could be explained by the intake of too much caffeine or nicotine. Some people hear voices that are the products only of processes in their brains. These hallucinations can lead to persistent delusions that someone is plotting against them or urging them to harm others. When a person acts on those delusions, headline-grabbing tragedy can ensue, usually involving someone close to the patient.sni

Media Coverage of Disease

 Violence is not a symptom of schizophrenia, only a tiny proportion of sufferers with the condition are homicidal. Yet these incidents dominate the media coverage of the disease. The media tends to only mention the illness when it is linked to a dangerous or violent crime. They portray all those suffering from schizophrenia as dangerous, volatile, unpredictable and out of control people who are in need of being heavily drugged and hospitalised.sni

It is true that on occasion a patient may show violent tendencies. But more often than not they are actually withdrawn and preoccupied with their own thoughts and problems. In fact, it is twice as likely for someone who suffers from a drug or alcohol problem to commit a violent crime than a schizophrenic.sni

Views on the mental disorder have changed over the years. Many have questioned schizophrenia being one condition or if it might actually be a few different conditions that overlap. In reality many people are still diagnosed with schizophrenia.sni

Treatment of Schizophrenia

In some societies, schizophrenia is not recognized as a disease. And the response to its symptoms can be dependent on culture, as can the degree of support that sufferers receive. Where it is recognized and treatment is given, it poses some of the greatest challenges in medical care.sni

Drugs to treat schizophrenia-shifanews

Drugs that treat the delusional symptoms have been around for decades and have helped many sufferers enormously. But these drugs have not advanced in effectiveness and several manufacturers have now backed out of this arena. Cognitive and behavioral therapies have also made progress. But they suffer from a lack of coherent research and due priority. One of the key diagnostic and scientific challenges is to distinguish the early phases of this condition using all the means of biological, behavioral and cognitive analyses at our disposal. As with most diseases, the earlier the diagnosis, the greater the chances are to mitigate the disease’s impact or to defeat it.sni

There is still a lot of stigma around mental illnesses such as schizophrenia. Sometimes people find it helpful to refer to their illness not in terms of any diagnosis, but rather simply as a neurological illness, which sounds less frightening. This helps them to both live with the illness and relate to acceptance of others winning their compassion and care as a normal person. Denial may be, but this naturally helps with relationships.sni

Nevertheless, isolation has been a big problem seen in schizophrenics. It is extremely important for them to have supportive parents, good friends and work colleagues who are tolerant, friendly and help them through tough times. Healthy social life helps them overcome the stigma and isolation. Paranoia is the antithesis to sociability.sni

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