Schizophrenia is a mental illness characterized by psychosis, which is a distortion of reality in the mind of the individual. Also Read: World Mental Health Day 2019: Myths And Facts About Mental Illness
The incidence of schizophrenia is very common in India, as well as in other nations of the world, affecting millions of people every year. The onset of schizophrenia is usually between the ages of 18 and 30, occurring in both men and women. It is quite rare in young children and adults above 45 years.
The exact cause of schizophrenia is still unknown, but medical researchers have determined a combination of factors that trigger this neurological disorder in people. These include imbalance or abnormal functioning of neurotransmitters in the brain – dopamine, serotonin and glutamate, environmental factors, traumatic events, stress as well as genetic anomalies.
Although schizophrenia could distress any young adult, certain aspects predispose some individuals to acquire this brain syndrome more than others. These consist of:
- Having parents, siblings or close relatives who are also schizophrenic
- Drinking, smoking or consuming psychoactive i.e. mind-altering drugs frequently during teenage years
- Being exposed to dangerous viral infections and toxic environmental pollutants
- Going through extreme depressing situations such as a divorce or abandonment from family
Schizophrenia is a life-long illness that requires constant medical care. If left untreated, schizophrenia could cause grave complications in the patient such as suicidal thoughts, aggressive behaviour, lack of productivity, anxiety and other physical health problems. Also Read: Anxiety: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment
Hence, it is essential to understand the signs of schizophrenia and provide prompt and suitable therapy to the patient, to help them deal with the psychological condition.
The typical indications of schizophrenia comprise:
- Hallucinations and delusions
- Lack of hand-eye coordination
- Unclear, indistinguishable speech patterns
- Loss of interest in routine activities
- Social isolation
- Impaired memory and thinking skills, as in the case of dementia
- Inability to express emotions pertaining to the situation
Diagnosis And Treatment
The diagnosis of schizophrenia entails a team of mental health experts. The doctor carefully studies all the external signs on the patient, to rule out the possibility of an underlying chronic condition. He or she also takes into account the individual’s personality as well as medical history.
Laboratory tests to screen the patient’s blood samples are conducted, to look for any instances of excessive alcohol, nicotine or drug consumption. The doctor then gauges the patient’s behaviour and moods, to evaluate if they display any violent, delusional or suicidal thoughts and actions.
Once the diagnosis of schizophrenia is confirmed in the patient, treatment strategies are initiated by a group of healthcare providers encompassing psychologists, psychiatrists and behavioral therapists. Treatment for schizophrenia consists of:
The doctor prescribes antipsychotic drugs to be taken by the patient, which regulates neurotransmitter levels in the brain and positively influences cognitive functions such as memory, concentration and decision-making.
This mode of treatment for schizophrenia patients constitutes the doctor analyzing the person’s thoughts, moods and emotions and guiding them to control any exaggerated, negative or extreme feelings, so as to help them carry out normal day-to-day activities.
The constant support of close family and friends is absolutely required for schizophrenic patients, as it is a lifetime mental illness. This will ensure the affected individuals continue taking their medications even after symptoms have subsided, to curb their minds from encouraging negative ideas and prevent a recurrence of schizophrenia.