You sure must have heard of the terms Schizophrenia several times before, but do you really know what exactly this condition means and what the symptoms of this disease are. Well, to get a better idea about this most devastating mental disorder read on and get in depth information about the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of this condition…
Schizophrenia is a serious mental disease that is characterized by disassociated thought process and disintegration of emotional responses. Schizophrenics may experience symptoms like hallucinations, paranoia, delusions, or disorganized speech and thinking, all accompanied with a significant disruption of social, personal, and professional relationships. This condition is one of the most chronic, and disabling of all major mental disease and one of the most common cause of long term hospitalizations.
To explain these things in simple terms, a person suffering from schizophrenia is not able to connect or link the various parts of his thought process, logic, feelings, perception, and imagination together. As a result, he ends up perceiving his imaginations as real, which results in inability to think logically, express feelings, behave appropriately, control emotions, and differentiate between real and imagined. However, contrary to popular belief, schizophrenia is not split personality, here the person’s mental thought process are split, where in split personality or dissociative personality disorder, a person portrays more than one forms of personalities.
Symptoms of Schizophrenia
Like most mental disorders, the symptoms of schizophrenia, vary widely from person to person and within the person as the disease progresses or gets treated. In some people the disassociated feelings may become a part of life, while for others these symptoms may be quite transient with periods of normalcy in between. However, some of the more common signs of this condition are enlisted below:
- Social withdrawal
- Loss of interest and lack of hunger
- Delusions, hallucinations, and bizarre perceptions (like feelings of bugs crawling over the body, while there are none)
- Paranoia or a sense of being controlled by external forces. Feeling imprisoned and sinking.
- Depersonalizations, i.e., feeling of being unreal or nonexistent, feeling of the world being unreal.
- Feeling of intense pent up energy ready to explode or feeling of extreme fatigue and lack of interest towards life.
- Belief that thoughts are being inserted or withdrawn from one’s consciousness or are being broadcasted to others.
A person may show all or none of these symptoms. Also, the symptoms manifested in a person depend upon the type of schizophrenia one is suffering from. There are in all 4 major types of the disease:
- Disorganized type schizophrenia: it is characterized by disorganization of behavior and speech, which may appear flat or inappropriate. The patient may seem highly eccentric and indulge in peculiar gestures, activities, speech, and unusual clothing preferences.
- Paranoid schizophrenia: As the name suggests, the person is over obsessed with elaborate delusions of persecution, mortal harm, conspiracy, sabotage, or personal grandeur. Though the patient may appear and behave normal he may come across as highly suspicious of his/her surroundings and at times end up in typical argumentative mood.
- Catatonic Schizophrenia: This is a more advanced stage disease, which is manifested either as difficulty or resistance to movement, or tendency towards excessive, abnormal, and repetitive movements. This type of the disease was once common when the disease was usually left untreated; however, today one rarely gets to see such advanced stage of the condition.
- Undifferentiated Schizophrenia: it is characterized by episodes of delusions, hallucinations, catatonic behavior, or negative emotions, but cannot be classified as any of the above types.
- Residual type schizophrenia: This form of the illness refers to patients who have been treated for the disease and no longer show symptoms of psychosis, but has not yet gotten rid of all symptoms of the disease.
Causes of Schizophrenia
The exact genesis of the disease is still being researched. However, genetics, neurobiology, external environment, and social as well as psychological atmosphere present during the early ages of person’s life are supposed to be the contributing factors to schizophrenia.
Diagnosis of Schizophrenia
Like most mental illnesses, there is no single test to detect schizophrenia, instead doctors use comprehensive medical family history and mental health make up of the person (past and present) for making the right diagnosis.
Treatment of Schizophrenia
In the medieval era and times before that schizophrenia was considered as a form of lunacy or of work of the devil and crude treatments like drilling a hole in the brain were used to treat the condition. Though, today there is much awareness about the right way of treating the condition. Knowing about the underlying disease conditions is essential for determining the treatment mode for schizophrenia, which may include anti-psychotic drugs along with psychotherapy. However, more research and clinical trials are required to develop efficient forms of treating this condition. Do have a look at the list of schizophrenia trials underway in an area near you.