What is Schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia is a mental condition where the ability to speak, think, and emote is affected. The signs of this condition are usually shown in adolescence or in early adulthood. It has a great impact on the life of the affected person and also affects those living with the patient. It is not a very common mental health condition and affects only a small percentage of people. But when it happens it is a lifelong condition and there is no schizophrenia cure. Treatment can help in managing the symptoms. There are 5 types of schizophrenia, they are, catatonic, disorganized, paranoid, residual, and undifferentiated.
A patient suffering from this condition will have episodes where it is hard to distinguish reality and illusion. The symptoms and severity of this condition vary and fall into the following categories:
Positive Psychotic Symptoms
- Delusions where they start to believe that someone is trying to control their brain or someone has superpowers.
- Distorted speech, trouble in concentration, and movement disorders.
- Are unable to lead their daily life
- Lack of emotions in their talk and to not find anything pleasurable.
- Is unable to make plans or even keep one.
- Appears withdrawn
- Memory and concentration problems
- Learning disabilities with performance problems at work or in school.
- Is unable to think logically.
Who is at Risk?
Schizophrenia risk factors increase the chances of developing these mental health conditions:
- The chances of a person presenting this condition are high if another family member is diagnosed with this. Closer the family member, higher the risk.
- People who suffer from psychosocial factors like trauma have a high risk of schizophrenia.
- People who have suffered from malnutrition before birth or have suffered trauma at birth.
- People who have had obstetric complications.
- People who have suffered certain viral infections
- People who use certain drugs like cannabis can trigger the condition if the person is susceptible to it.
Reasons for schizophrenia are due to a combination of factors and this includes:
- Genetics: A parent, sibling, or a close relative having this condition can lead to a person developing it. But for this to happen a combination of genes has to be present and not a single gene.
- Structural changes in the brain: It can be caused due to even minor changes in the brain structure which leads to a psychiatric disorder.
- Chemical changes: Imbalance or low levels of chemicals especially dopamine plays a role in causing schizophrenia.
- Pregnancy complications: Infection during pregnancy, low oxygen level during pregnancy, low birth weight can cause schizophrenia.
- Drug abuse: The use of drugs may trigger this condition.
How is Schizophrenia Diagnosed?
If a person shows at least two of the above symptoms seeking an appointment with a psychiatrist is the first step. Early diagnosis of this illness helps, as it increases the chances of managing it better:
- The doctor will do a medical exam and a psychological evaluation. The family history and behaviour of the patient is also made note of. The doctor tracks the symptoms to rule out other issues like bipolar disorder.
- Urine and/or blood test is done to check if the cause is drug abuse.
- MRI, CT scan is done to get the images of the brain to rule out a brain tumour.
- If that is ruled out, cognitive tests, personality tests, and Rorschach tests are done to confirm the schizophrenia diagnosis.
How is Schizophrenia Treated?
Effective schizophrenia treatment can help in managing symptoms as it is a lifelong condition. Since every person has a different experience a schizophrenia doctor will create a plan that suits the patient. But common treatment options are:
- Antipsychotic drugs: These are medicine for schizophrenia that is for daily use. It helps to relieve symptoms of hallucinations and delusions. A person may start to feel better after a few weeks of using medications.
- Counselling: This helps the patient to develop skills needed to cope with the emotional and mental distress. It also helps to set and pursue goals.
- Psychosocial therapies: It is done complimentary to the drug treatment and includes family therapy, cognitive rehabilitation, and social skills.
Contact our specialists at Cure.fit, for a holistic and integrated treatment for schizophrenia. They are available through video consultations too.
How can Schizophrenia be Prevented?
Scientists have not yet found a way for the prevention of schizophrenia. But there are some ways to make it less likely to develop especially if it runs in the family. They are:
- Learning ways to manage stress and anxiety can trigger this condition.
- Avoid usage of drugs and alcohol as they are considered factors causing this condition.
- Take appropriate help if you are in traumatic situations or in an abusive relationship as it increases the chances of developing schizophrenia.
- Take good care of your physical health by having a healthy lifestyle.
- Be socially active, make friends, and develop hobbies.