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What You Need To Know About Schizophrenia

According to American Psychiatric Association, Schizophrenia is a chronic brain disorder that affects about one percent of the population. When schizophrenia is active, symptoms can include delusions, hallucinations, trouble with thinking and concentration, and lack of motivation. However, when these symptoms are treated, most people with schizophrenia will greatly improve over time.

Schizophrenia does not mean split personality or multiple-personality. Most people with schizophrenia are not dangerous or violent. They also are not homeless nor do they live in hospitals. Most people with schizophrenia live with family, in group homes or on their own.

What Causes Schizophrenia?

The cause of schizophrenia is still unclear. Some theories about the cause of this disease include genetics (heredity), biology (abnormalities in the brain’s chemistry or structure); and/or possible viral infections and immune disorders.

Genetics (Heredity)

Scientists recognize that the disorder tends to run in families and that a person inherits a tendency to develop the disease. Similar to some other genetically-related illnesses, schizophrenia may appear when the body undergoes hormonal and physical changes (like those that occur during puberty in the teen and young adult years) or after dealing with highly stressful situations.

Biology

Scientists believe that people with schizophrenia have an imbalance of the brain chemicals or neurotransmitters: dopamine, glutamate, and serotonin. These neurotransmitters allow nerve cells in the brain to send messages to each other. The imbalance of these chemicals affects the way a person’s brain reacts to stimuli - which explains why a person with schizophrenia may be overwhelmed by sensory information (loud music or bright lights) which other people can easily handle. This problem in processing different sounds, sights, smells and tastes can also lead to hallucinations or delusions.

Some research suggests that problems with the development of connections and pathways in the brain while in the womb may later lead to schizophrenia.

Viral Infections and Immune Disorders

Schizophrenia may also be triggered by environmental events, such as viral infections or immune disorders. For instance, babies whose mothers get the flu while they are pregnant are at higher risk of developing schizophrenia later in life. People who are hospitalized for severe infections are also at higher risk.

What Are The Symptoms Of Schizophrenia?

Symptoms of schizophrenia usually start between ages 16 and 30 but in rare cases, children have schizophrenia too.

The symptoms of schizophrenia fall into three categories: positive, negative, and cognitive.

Positive symptoms 
“Positive” symptoms are psychotic behaviours not generally seen in healthy people. People with positive symptoms may “lose touch” with some aspects of reality. Symptoms include:
  1. Hallucinations (Audio and Visual)
  2. Delusions
  3. Thought disorders (unusual or dysfunctional ways of thinking)
  4. Movement disorders (agitated body movements)
Negative symptoms
“Negative” symptoms are associated with disruptions to normal emotions and behaviours. Symptoms include:
  1. “Flat affect” (reduced expression of emotions via facial expression or voice tone)
  2. Reduced feelings of pleasure in everyday life.
  3. Difficulty beginning and sustaining activities.
  4. Reduced speaking.
Cognitive symptoms 
For some patients, the cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia are subtle, but for others, they are more severe and patients may notice changes in their memory or other aspects of thinking. Symptoms include:
  1. Poor “executive functioning” (the ability to understand information and use it to make decisions).
  2. Trouble focusing or paying attention.
  3. Problems with “working memory” (the ability to use information immediately after learning it).

Other Conditions Are Related To Schizophrenia?
People with schizophrenia may have additional illnesses. These may include:

  • Substance abuse
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Major depression

How Is Schizophrenia Treated?

Like other mental health diseases, treatment is available for schizophrenia which may include drugs and psychotherapy, after proper consultation with a Psychiatrist.

 

Article By: Anolu Esther

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