Schizophrenia is a complex disease for which patients it becomes difficult to distinguish the real from the fictional, think clearly, manage emotions, attitudes to others and to function normally in society.
But that doesn’t mean there’s no hope. Schizophrenia can be managed successfully. The first step is to identify the signs and symptoms. The second step is to immediately seek help, the third is to adhere to the prescribed treatment.
With proper treatment and support, people with schizophrenia can lead a happy and completely fulfilling life.
What is Schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia is disturbances in the brain that affect how a person acts, thinks, and sees the world. People with schizophrenia have a distorted perception of reality, and oftentimes lose touch with the real world. They may see or hear things that are not there, weird and strange things, to believe that others are trying to harm them, or feel the constant spying on them. In these blurred boundaries, people will not even be able to live a normal, familiar life. People can lose contact with the real world, to hide from all and to behave very strangely, guided by fear and confusion.
Most cases of schizophrenia appear in late adolescence or early adulthood. However, schizophrenia may appear for the first time in middle age or even later. In very rare cases, schizophrenia can manifest the symptoms in this case are slightly different. In General, the earlier schizophrenia develops, the stronger its effects. Schizophrenia also appears more serious in men than in women.
Although schizophrenia is a chronic disorder, methods of its effective treatment still exist.
With proper support, medication and treatment, many people with schizophrenia can live a full life. However, treatment is most effective if schizophrenia is diagnosed at an early stage. If you notice the signs, the symptoms and immediately sought help, the chances of recovery and control of the disease are greatly increased.
Myths and facts about schizophrenia
Myth: Schizophrenia the same as split personality.
Fact: a Split personality is a different and much less common disorder than schizophrenia. People with schizophrenia do not have split personality. Rather, they are “separated” from reality.
Myth: Schizophrenia is a rare disease.
Fact: Schizophrenia is not a rare disease; it occurs in one out of a hundred people.
Myth: Schizophrenics are dangerous.
Fact: Although the delusional thoughts and hallucinations of schizophrenia sometimes lead to violent behavior, most people with schizophrenia are neither violent nor dangerous to others.
Myth: Schizophrenia is incurable.
Fact: Although the complexity and duration of the treatment, schizophrenia is not a death sentence. With proper treatment, people with schizophrenia can lead a totally normal life: to build a career, start a family and friends.
Symptoms and signs of schizophrenia
In some people, schizophrenia is detected suddenly, without the appearance of disturbing symptoms. However, most often, the first signs of the disease appear gradually with warning signs. Many friends and relatives of patients with schizophrenia tell us that you saw how a person takes something wrong, but didn’t know what it could be.
At this early stage, people with schizophrenia often seem eccentric, unmotivated, devoid of emotion and mysterious. They isolate themselves from society, start neglecting their appearance, say strange things, demonstrate total indifference to life. They can abandon favorite activities, and their performance at work or school deteriorates.
The most frequent first signs of schizophrenia include:
- Social withdrawal.
- Hostility or suspicion.
- Deterioration of personal hygiene.
- Flat, expressionless eyes.
- Inability to cry or Express joy.
- Unexplained laughing or crying.
- Excessive sleepiness or insomnia.
- Incoherent or irrational speech.
- Forgetfulness, absence of concentration.
- Acute reaction to criticism.
- Using strange non-existent words.
The main symptoms of schizophrenia
There are five types of symptoms characteristic of schizophrenia: delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech, disorganized behavior and so-called “negative” symptoms. However, the signs and symptoms of schizophrenia vary greatly from person to person as the overall picture and the extent of the disease. Not every person with schizophrenia will have all symptoms, also the symptoms may change over time.
Confusion – a condition in which a person, despite all the facts and evidence, I am sure that things are quite otherwise. Delusions are extremely common in schizophrenia, are found in more than 90% cases of this disorder. Often these misconceptions are associated with illogical or bizarre ideas or fantasies. Common schizophrenic delusions include:
- About the perception of the environment.
- Delusions of grandeur.
- Delusions of power.
Hallucinations are sounds and feelings that are felt as real, but exist only in human consciousness. Hallucinations can involve all five senses, but the most common forms of schizophrenia are audio and visual hallucinations. A person begins to hear voices that were not there and to see what is actually there.
Schizophrenic hallucinations are usually meaningful to the person experiencing them. In many cases, the voices belong to someone they know. Hallucinations can also worsen when the person is alone.
The most common signs of incoherent speech in schizophrenia include:
- Strange Association – the constant hopping from topic to topic, which are absolutely not related.
- Neologism – new word or phrase, understood only by that person.
- Perseverance – the repetition of words and statements.
- Rhyming – a meaningless use of rhymed words.
- A reduction in overall daily activity.
- Unpredictable or inappropriate emotional responses.
- Strange and pointless behavior.
- Lack of inhibition and control of impulsivity.
Negative symptoms of schizophrenia
The so-called “negative” symptoms of schizophrenia refer to the absence of normal behavior in humans. Common negative symptoms of schizophrenia include:
- Lack of expressing emotions.
- Lack of interest and enthusiasm.
- Lack of interest in the world.
- Difficulties and speech disorders.
Causes of schizophrenia
The causes of schizophrenia are not known. However, schizophrenia is often the result of crossing genetic factors and environmental factors.
Schizophrenia is closely associated with genetics. People with 1st degree relatives (parents, brother or sister) have a 10% chance of developing this disorder, while the total population of the planet has only 1% risk.
However, in the development of schizophrenia is influenced not only by genetic factors. Schizophrenia is often found in the family, but about 60% of schizophrenics have no family members affected by this disorder. Moreover, people who genetically, it would seem, are more likely to develop schizophrenia, do not always suffer from this disease, thus, it can be assumed that the importance and biological, not just genetic factors.
Studies have shown that the development of schizophrenia is often associated with stress. High levels of stress can cause schizophrenia through the production of a hormone called cortisol.
Research points to several stress factors caused by the environment, which may be involved in the development of schizophrenia, including:
- Perinatal exposure to viral infection.
- Low oxygen levels during birth (prolonged or premature labor).
- contact with the virus in infancy.
- Early loss of parents or separation from family.
- Physical or sexual abuse in childhood.
An abnormal structure of the brain
In addition to the abnormal biochemistry of the brain, irregularities in the anatomy of the brain can also play a role in the development of schizophrenia. Some schizophrenic patients are observed enlarged ventricles of the brain, indicating a deficiency in the amount of fabric in other parts of the brain. There is also evidence of abnormally low activity in frontal lobe area of the brain that is responsible for planning, reasoning and decision-making.
There are also studies suggesting that abnormalities in the temporal lobes, the hippocampus and the amygdala are also associated with an increased risk of developing schizophrenia.
However, it is unlikely that schizophrenia is the result solely of violations in different divisions and lobes of the brain.