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Schizophrenia

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Schizophrenia is a form of a debilitating psychosis that can cause the patient to live in isolation and a skewed view of reality. Schizophrenia is a mental illness that alters the world of the patient often causing delusions and paranoia. Schizophrenia is considered a brain disorder and can be effectively treated with patient compliance.

SCHIZOPHRENIA SYMPTOMS

The initial symptoms of schizophrenia may not be obvious to those other than the patient, as they may display erratic or unusual behavior without confessing what the problem is or vocalizing anything coherent to those around them. Patients with schizophrenia often experience delusions, paranoia, bizarre beliefs such as aliens controlling the thoughts of their family members, incoherent rambling, hallucinations, an inappropriate level of emotional response, either without emotions or an overload of emotions, social isolation, difficulty functioning whether in a work environment or a social environment, a lack of coordination, and a loss of interest in personal hygiene.

Schizophrenia is considered a progressive mental illness that may initially begin with mild symptoms a otherwise normal actions more often than not and gradually becoming more and more evident to those around the patient that there is a mental illness condition. Patients may display negative symptoms such as lack of emotion, laughter when the subject matter is not appropriate for laughter, or a monotone speech, even catatonic trances. The patient may display positive symptoms such as delusion and hallucinations. Cognitive symptoms may include difficulty understanding even simple information, the appearance of memory loss, and difficulty concentrating.
Schizophrenia
Image: Schizophrenia


While hearing voices is most commonly associated with schizophrenia, not all patients who hear voices are schizophrenic. Hearing voices can happen as a result of medications sued for serious illness as well as a side effect of depression. Schizophrenics are in fact rarely violent.

The paranoia most often associated with schizophrenia may not be schizophrenia at all but could be an indicator of another serious mental illness known as paranoid personality disorder. People with schizophrenia tend to withdraw themselves from other individuals. There is a difference between split personality disorder or multiple personality disorder and schizophrenia. These similarities combined with the patient’s desire to hide their condition can make it difficult to accurately diagnose schizophrenia without monitoring.

While no identifiable causes have yet been determined, there are genetic links to other family members that may account for why a patient is prone to schizophrenia. Schizophrenia affects about 1 percent of the population.

SCHIZOPHRENIA DIAGNOSIS

The diagnostic process usually calls for ruling out other mental and physical potential causes for the changes in behavior, which may take a little time and monitoring. Family history, medical history, blood tests, urine tests, and a physical examination are typically performed before a diagnosis is even suggested. There are physical illnesses that can cause symptoms of psychosis and these must be ruled before treating a patient for any form of mental illness. If all other possible causes for the behaviors, including substance abuse, are ruled out, the diagnosis is then usually schizophrenia if there are several matching symptoms that do not coincide with another mental illness.

SCHIZOPHRENIA COMPLICATIONS

Complications from schizophrenia are typically more social than anything else. Most patients with schizophrenia withdraw from friends, family, and society. They have difficulty maintaining employment which is likely to lead to poverty, homelessness, and inadequate health care. While only 1 percent of the population is afflicted with schizophrenia, very few schizophrenics are able to maintain any type of long term treatment.

SCHIZOPHRENIA TREATMENT

Antipsychotic medications are the first line of treatment options for seriously mentally ill patients, including those with schizophrenia. Medications before the 1990’s were only effective at addressing the positive symptoms of schizophrenia, like hearing voices and hallucinations. Later medications have been able to effectively address both the positive and negative symptoms of schizophrenia.


Medications should be closely monitored by a psychiatrist, as they often produce uncomfortable side effects and it is not uncommon for a patient of serious mental illness make a clear minded decision to stop taking the medication in an effort to “feel” better. This of course leads to a return of symptoms and a cycle starts.

Other therapies such as cognitive therapies, family therapy, and individual therapy can benefit the schizophrenic in learning new and better coping skills, learning skills that will enable him or her to find and keep a job, and to do all this hard work with family support.

SCHIZOPHRENIA PREVENTION

Support groups for schizophrenics as well as their families can be a valuable resource in developing a more positive result from treatment. Additionally, physicians, psychiatrists, and family members who are able to assist with follow through significantly enhance a schizophrenic’s chances for effective treatment.
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