WHAT IS SCHIZOPHRENIA?
It is a mental disorder which affects the patient’s daily life in the most horrible way. It makes the patient unable to distinguish between reality and imaginary things. The main symptoms are hallucinations, delusions, paranoia.
While the cause is mostly unknown, schizophrenia appears in people in late teens or early twenties or thirties. It is a lifelong battle once patients become victims of schizophrenia and the best way to deal with it is to manage and treat the individual symptoms.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF SCHIZOPHRENIA?
1. Early Symptoms (in children & teenagers):
- They lack focus.
- They are anxious when interacting with others.
- They are unmotivated & lash out when criticized.
- Poor grades at school
- Sleeping troubles
- Socially withdrawn
- Inappropriate emotional responses
2. Warped Thinking & Speech:
- There are no connections between the topics they are talking about.
- They have difficulty remembering what they were talking about.
- They have difficulty processing new information.
- They hear voices in their head which may be telling them to do something.
- They may see things that are not really there like objects, people, or strange lights. Their depth perception is skewed
- They think they are smelling something which other people cannot while in the same room.
- They may feel that they can touch something which isn’t there or they may think that they have something on or under their skin.
- They think someone is following them constantly or watching them.
- They think the government is looking at everything they’re doing and the FBI is out to get them.
- They believe they’re a famous personality or they have superpowers.
- They think they’re being hunted & tricked into revealing secrets or framed for something they didn’t do.
- They think that there are secret messages being broadcasted on all types of media like TV, radio, newspaper or social media.
- They may think that a famous person is in love with them and pursuing them.
- They may think that God or the devil is speaking to them and telling them to perform miracles or do evil things.
- They may think that they have a lot of power over what goes on in the world.
5. Uncontrollable behaviour:
- They may start flailing their limbs uncontrollably.
- They may become catatonic for hours.
- They may lose track of what’s going on around them, time, or who they’re talking to.
WHAT ARE THE CAUSES OF SCHIZOPHRENIA?
There is no particular cause of schizophrenia because the disease occurs due to the combination of environmental & genetic factors.
- There may be higher risk of you developing schizophrenia if anyone in your family has it.
- There is a hormonal imbalance in the brain, mainly serotonin, glutamate & dopamine.
- If you’ve suffered from a viral infection recently.
- If there has been a major life-altering event recently.
- If they’ve suffered trauma during pregnancy or after birth.
- If they were malnourished during pregnancy or after birth.
- Doing psychoactive or psychotropic drugs during teenage or early adulthood.
WHAT CAN BE THE COMPLICATIONS OF SCHIZOPHRENIA?
- Suicidal thoughts
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Borderline aggressive behaviour
- Inability to hold on to jobs
- Alcohol or drug abuse
HOW IS SCHIZOPHRENIA DIAGNOSED?
A lot of the early symptoms of schizophrenia are commonly found in other disorders too like alcohol or drug abuse, brain tumor, or anything else.
Urine or blood tests, CT and MRI scans are used to rule out other disorders.
A doctor will perform psychiatric evaluations like the inkblot test, personality tests, and other diagnostic testing. They may also talk to your friends, family members or your colleagues.
There are diagnostic criteria mentioned in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association that you may need to meet to be diagnosed with schizophrenia.
WHAT IS THE BEST TREATMENT FOR SCHIZOPHRENIA?
The treatment for schizophrenia is lifelong and symptoms are mainly managed as they come up. Medications and psychotherapy are the courses of treatment recommended for schizophrenia.
The psychotherapy may involve a team of people that consists of a psychologist, a social worker, a psychiatric nurse, and most likely a case manager to manage out-of-clinic care.
Mostly antipsychotic medications are prescribed to treat schizophrenia at the lowest possible dose. Antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication can help with depression and anxiety resulting from schizophrenia.
But medications should always be prescribed keeping the patient’s preferences and side-effects in mind, if they like injections and resist taking pills, then injections should be administered.
Some of the common medications are –
- risperidone (Risperdal)
- olanzapine (Zyprexa)
- quetiapine (Seroquel)
- ziprasidone (Geodon)
- clozapine (Clozaril)
- haloperidol (Haldol)
If you or anyone you know is suffering from schizophrenia, our expert psychologists can help you manage it.