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Schizophrenia is a severe mental illness of profoundly disruptive clinical manifestations that involves one’s behavior, thoughts, emotions and perception of the environment and people around them. During the symptomatic phase patients often lose touch with reality and thus fail to recognize one’s behavior as abnormal. Patient may also lose his/her ability to take rational decisions. As a result, refuse to seek treatment and may actively resist it if recommended.
Most people diagnosed with schizophrenia are aged between 18 and 35, with men tending to be diagnosed at a slightly younger age than women.
Some basic symptoms of schizophrenia are:
1. Lack of interest in things, feeling disconnected or difficulty in concentrating.
2. Imagining objects, sounds which are not there in real life. Seeing objects which do not exists (hallucination)
3. False fixed beliefs like people are trying to harm or conspiring against him/her or trying to control behavior. The person also sometimes develops a strong belief of possessing some super natural power.
4. Not being able to think clearly. Thinking may become confused, muddled. Sometimes patient may complain of his/her thoughts being known to people or read by others.
5. Patient may behave in an abnormal/odd manner e.g. may appear excessively scared, start collecting trash, not taking care of oneself.
Causes of Schizophrenia
It is considered that every individual has certain risk of developing schizophrenia but whether the person will develop the disorder is determined by a combination of biological, psychological and environmental factors. Schizophrenia is caused by multiple genetic and environmental factors that affect brain development, many of which we do not yet understand. The main and most appropriate cause of schizophrenia is stressful life events which includes:
• Feeling lonely or isolated
• Being out of work
• Having monetary problems
• Becoming homeless
• Losing someone close to you
• Being abused or harassed
The other reason which is also considered to be one of the causes of the schizophrenia is the change in the chemicals in the brain, like dopamine which is responsible for carrying messages between brain cells. Some research also suggests the role of genetic factors which increases the risk among individuals with family history of schizophrenia.
Schizophrenia is treated using combination of medical treatment such as anti psychotic medicines and psycho social interventions.
Cognitive behavioral therapy – (A type of talking treatment that helps with patterns of thinking or behavior that may be causing you difficulties.) CBT is helpful in:
* Coping with symptoms of psychosis such as delusions or hearing voices
* Easing stress so your symptoms do not get worse
* Managing any side effects from medication
* Coping with other problems like social anxiety and depression, which people with schizophrenia may also experience
These are majorly anti psychotic drugs (also known as neurotic drugs or major tranquilizers) to help with schizophrenia. The medication doesn’t guarantee the complete recovery of a patient and the level of effectiveness of the medicine differs from person to person.
Family intervention
Like any other mental illness, family intervention in the case of schizophrenia is also very helpful. This is also a type of cognitive behavioral therapy in which the family members are educated on how to cope and provide crisis intervention and emotional support.
Art therapies
A way of using creative arts – music, painting, dance, voice or drama – to express yourself in a therapeutic environment with a trained therapist. These therapies also include the Skills Training to help people with Schizophrenia work on their social skills, ability to live independently, and any other skills necessary for living in the community.