Schizophrenia, might sound like a new term for many people. I’ll begin this article with a real case of Schizophrenia patients which might help you get an idea about this condition-
“I remember overeating our 17th birthday cake with my twin brother Scott, then suddenly Scott started saying very strange things like, ‘You are not my sister. You are the daughter of devil.’ We tried to talk Scott out of these bizarre beliefs but mostly we dismissed his irrational speech and hoped it would go away. Instead things turned from bad to worse when one night he shoved my mom up against the wall, started calling her names and began to choke her. Mum said, ‘Call the police’ so I did. The police came handcuffed my brother, arrested him and threw him in the jail. At the police station in front of my mom he told the police, ‘She is not my mother. My mother is Yoko Ono.’ It was only after this arrest, that Scott was diagnosed with Schizophrenia.” – Cyndi Shannon Weickert
There are many symptoms through which you can diagnose Schizophrenia such as hallucination and delusion being the hallmark characteristics. But it is very important to know that a person could have Schizophrenia and not have delusion and hallucination. Each person’s story with Schizophrenia is unique.
WHAT IS SCHIZOPHRENIA?
If we know nothing about psychology and we were asked to describe what a crazy person is like then most of us may describe the behavior of someone with schizophrenia. These quote – unquote crazy people however are still people who live amongst us and they don’t all experience schizophrenia the same way.
Schizophrenia is derived from a Greek word ‘Schizo’, which means split and ‘frenia’, means mind. This term refers to spilt from reality. It doesn’t refer to split personality or multiple personalities like some media sources would portray. Schizophrenia is not a rare condition. 1 out of every 100 persons is probably affected by this disease. Schizophrenia is the disorder of the brain affecting how one acts, thinks and sees the world around them. Person with schizophrenia have an altered perception of reality and may see or hear things that are not real. They speak in strange ways, or feel that they are being spied on and others are trying to hurt them. This makes them difficult to function sometimes with normal activities of daily life.It could arise more suddenly perhaps triggered by stress or trauma although no event can actually cause the disorder.
Some psychotic illness may appear soon after birth but this is not the case with schizophrenia. Infact many can go their whole childhood without anyone suspecting a thing. Cases have been among children over the age of 5 like seeing an imaginary friend etc. but it is more likely to strike during or after adolescence.
CAUSES OF SCHIZOPHRENIA
Schizophrenia was 1st identified more than a century ago but we still don’t know its exact cause. It’s still a mystery. Since it seems like the signs and symptoms of schizophrenia are pretty unique to humans or at least they are hard to imagine or notice in animal models like rats or mice. It remains one of the most misunderstood and stigmatized illness today. So, let’s talk what we do know about schizophrenia. There likely isn’t one single cause, but a combination of genetic and environmental risk factors that contribute. Schizophrenia has one of the strongest genetic links of any psychiatric illness. There are few factors which contribute to Schizophrenia –
- During the development stage that is pregnancy or early childhood, adverse environmental factors along with genetic predisposition can cause disturbance n brain development which makes the individual prone to developing Schizophrenia.
- When a pregnant mother comes down with a virus or lacks proper nutrition, especially during first two trimester of pregnancy.
- An identical twin of someone with Schizophrenia has a 40% chance of being affected.
- Children or siblings of people with Schizophrenia are 10 times likelier to develop the disease.
- Environmental factors like exposure to certain viruses in early infancy might increase the chance that someone will develop Schizophrenia.
- Use of some drugs including marijuana, cocaine may trigger the onset of psychosis in highly susceptible individuals.
- Neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine which allow the cells of the brain to communicate may not be properly regulated and thus lead to problems with message transmission. This believed to impact the brain’s response to various stimuli which could in turn explain hallucination and delusion as well.
- Multiple genes do play a role but we don’t know many or which one.
Like I said before that the cause hasn’t been known and every patient’s story is different. So, the factors mentioned above doesn’t affect everyone the same way.
Schizophrenia is considered a syndrome which means it may encompass a number of related disorders that have similar symptoms but varying causes. Schizophrenia can be difficult to diagnose due to its broad range of symptoms that are more easily associated with other mental disorders or mental illness. So here are few worst signs and symptoms –
1. POSITIVE SYMPTOMS
Positive symptoms mean they occur in people with schizophrenia but not in the general population.
- Disorganized speech and behavior – They jump from one topic to another without any clear connection in between them. They will fill their speech with words that only have meaning to them or meaninglessly rhyme words.
- Hallucination – They hear voices which are telling them something to do, warning them of something or yelling at them. They also might feel sensations that aren’t physically being inflict on them such as objects touching them.
- Delusion – 90% of patients exhibit this symptom. Delusions are the firm belief in something that is simply not true. For e.g. They start believing that they are famous, their thoughts or actions are being controlled by external forces, more commonly the hold the belief that someone is out to get them.
- Extreme reactions – For e.g. Exhibit paranoia, laugh inappropriately or cry for no reason
2. NEGATIVE SYMPTOMS
Negative symptoms are the qualities that are reduced in people with schizophrenia but are present in normal people.
- Apathy or unable to express emotions
- Deterioration of personal hygiene
- Oversleeping or insomnia
3. COGNITIVE SYMPTOMS
Cognitive symptoms are related to memory and concentration.
- Inability to concentrate.
- Issues with thinking abilities, remembering detail, trouble attempting to do many things at one time.
Schizophrenia appears slightly more in men than in women. The average sign that appears varies somewhat by gender. Most men experiences symptoms between their late teens or early 20s, while majority of women shows signs in their late 20s or early 30s. It is uncommon for someone to be diagnosed who is much younger or older than this. Many will isolate themselves or withdraw from those around them as they experience strange thoughts and fear.
Unfortunately, most people with Schizophrenia will live a shorter life. This is in part due to high incidence of conditions developing along with it, such as diabetes or heart diseases. This is also because of tendency for those with the disease to become suicidal or engage in self harm. Infact suicide is the leading cause of premature death among the Schizophrenia population.
Schizophrenia has many symptoms depending upon its types which will help you diagnose. If you wanna its various types and the current treatment for schizophrenia then do read this article Schizophrenia – Types and Treatment
I hope this helped. For more such article check out the website medicoved.com
Author : Dr. Easminara Shaikh