is a severe long-term brain disorder which is characterized byhallucinations and delusions such as hearing sounds which do notexist, paranoia, and disorganized thinking. It is a condition whichnormally disfigures the way the affected individual relates withother people, expresses his or her emotions, sees the reality, andhow he or she acts and thinks. The significant contributory factorsof this mental disorder are various social and psychologicalprocesses, as well as early environment and genes. The diagnosis ofschizophrenia is usually founded on the behaviors observed frompeople with this condition. Its treatment involves a combination oftherapy and antipsychotic medication suitable to each person. Thiscondition can affect people of all types regardless of their socialstatus, race or gender. Due to the nature of schizophrenia disorder,people suffering from it have problems at their workplaces, atschool, and even in the way they relate with other people (Andre,2012).
Thestart of schizophrenia
Inmany people, the start of schizophrenia is a slow deterioration thatnormally occurs in their early twenties. A person who is likely tosuffer from schizophrenia may start to show early warning signs ofdeveloping this condition later on in life. These warning signsinclude: increased paranoia and mistrust of other people’smotivations, social withdrawal and isolation, turning out to be moreemotionless and less motivated, starting to rely on alcohol or drugs,unsuitable laughter, sleeping for too long or sleeplessness,illogical beliefs and statements, decline in their hygiene anddressing, and talking in strange ways that are not like themselves(Paula, 2013). A combination of these warning signs occurring in aperson should raise an alarm, particularly if the person isdeteriorating even more. It is important to help such an individualat an early stage before schizophrenia disorder develops fully(Andre, 2012).
Signsand symptoms of schizophrenia
Theschizophrenia symptoms are classified into three groups, that is,positive, cognitive and negative symptoms. Positive symptoms ofschizophrenia are the psychotic behaviors which are not observed inother healthy people. The positive symptoms include delusions,hallucinations, movement disorders and thought disorders. Delusionsare illogical and bogus beliefs that one believes even after they areproven to be unreasonable and false. People suffering fromschizophrenia also experience paranoid delusions where they beliefthat other people are always seeking to hurt them or the people theyare concerned about. Such delusions are known as “delusions ofpersecutions.” They make the affected people get persecutionemotions such as feeling like other are people plotting bad things onthem, spying on them, poisoning and harassing them. Movementdisorders seem like disturbed body movements where the person withschizophrenia repeatedly moves his body or a part of the body in acertain motion time and again. The person can also become catatonic.This is a situation in which the affected person is not able to moveat all. It was common when there was no known treatment forschizophrenia however, nowadays this condition is rare. Thoughtdisorders are also seen in a person suffering from schizophrenia.Such people normally have difficulties in organizing their thoughtsand reasonably connecting them. At times, a person with thoughtdisorder may speak in a way which may be difficult for anyone tounderstand. The affected individual may also stop talking all over asudden in the middle of his or her speech (David & Peter, 2012).
Cognitivesymptoms in a person suffering from this disorder are hard torecognize unless the individual is subjected to some tests to detectthem. They include the inability to pay attention or concentrate,problems in understanding information and making decisions, and poorworking memory. These cognitive symptoms normally make it difficultfor the affected person to retain their jobs or perform well inschool, thus causing emotional distress in them. Negative symptoms ofschizophrenia are usually linked to the interference of normalbehaviors and emotions. These symptoms are normally mistaken forother conditions such as depression thus making it difficult to berecognized as symptoms of schizophrenia disorder. These negativesymptoms include being distressed, inability to start and carry onwith the planned work or activities, and talking less or speaking ina dull voice. People with negative symptoms of schizophrenia normallyappear lazy and more often neglect their hygiene and the way theylook. However, they may not be lazy or careless these problems arecaused by schizophrenia symptoms (David & Peter, 2012).
Likeother mental disorders, schizophrenia disorder has no known exactcause. However, it is understood that a combination of environmentaland genetics are contributory factors in development of thisdisorder. People whose close relatives suffer from schizophrenia aremore vulnerable to this mental disorder than other people. A personwhose parents have this mental disorder is at ten percent risk ofdeveloping schizophrenia. An identical twin is also at sixty fivepercent risk of developing schizophrenia if the other twin has thesame disorder. The probability of other people whose family membersdo not suffer from schizophrenia getting the disorder is one percent(David & Peter, 2012).
Environmentalfactors which are linked to schizophrenia disorder are pre-natalstressors, complications during birth, and substance use. Factorsthat make the unborn baby stressed while still in the uterus such asviral infections and hypoxia, undernourishment and stress in apregnant woman can affect fetal development, thus increasing thedanger of developing schizophrenia disorder when the child grows up.People born during spring or winter seasons when viral exposure ishigher are more likely to develop this disorder afterwards in life.Use of substances such as cocaine, amphetamine, cannabis and evenalcohol can be contributory factors in development of schizophreniadisorder. However, it is important to note that substance use cannotcause schizophrenia on its own it needs the existence of certaingenes or genetic materials in a person for it to develop into thisdisorder (David & Peter, 2012).
Sincethere is no known exact cause of schizophrenia disorder, itstreatment can only be done by eradicating the symptoms of thisillness. Treatment of schizophrenia can be done through differentpsychosocial treatments or psychotherapy and prescription ofantipsychotic medications. Though psychotherapy is not an optiontreatment for a person suffering from schizophrenia, it can be usedas a support plan to a successful treatment plan. Psychotherapyassists the affected people to learn the necessary social skills, andencourage them to take their medication without discontinuing thuspreventing relapse (Smith Weston & Lieberman, 2010). It alsoinvolves rehabilitating the affected people through vocationaltraining so as to equip them with skill required for any job they maybe interested in. Rehabilitation is more effective if the jobtraining is combined with therapy specific for improving cognitiveskills of the affected individual. People suffering fromschizophrenia can also form self-help groups to help them have asense of belonging and reduce the feeling of isolation. Thisnetworking can also enable their families to find solutions to theirproblem together such as advocating for society treatment programsfor people with schizophrenia. A therapist can also teach familymembers of the people with schizophrenia on various strategies forcoping and skills to solve problems of this illness. This enablesthem to take good care of the affected people even when they are athome (David & Peter, 2012).
Besidespsychotherapy, a person suffering from schizophrenia should takeantipsychotic medications. These medications can either be in liquidform or pills, while others are in form of injections. The ones whichwere manufactured before 1990s are known as typical antipsychoticsand they include Haloperidol, Prolixin, and Chlorpromazine. Theantipsychotic medicines which were manufactured during and after1990s are known as atypical or second generation antipsychotics.Clozaril is one of the most common atypical antipsychotic medicationswhich are very effective in treating hallucinations and psychoticsymptoms. However, at times Clozaril leads to white blood cells loss,a condition known as agranulocytosis (Andre, 2012). Therefore, if oneis taking this medication, he or she should have regular counts oftheir white blood cells. Other second generations antipsychotic whichdo not cause agranulocytosis include Ziprasidone, Risperidone,Paliperidedone, Quetiapine and Aripiprazole. Some of the side effectslinked to antipsychotics are blurred vision, drowsiness, fastheartbeat, and skin rashes, dizziness, and menstruation problems inwomen. These side effects normally go away some days after startingto take these medications. Therefore, it is not advisable to stoptaking these medicines in order to avoid relapse. Before changing theantipsychotic medication, the affected person should seek the adviceof a doctor first. Taking typical antipsychotic for a very longtimemakes the affected person to have uncontrollable muscle movements, acondition known as Tardive Dyskinesia (TD). However, afterdiscontinuing with the medication, people with TD recover completelyor partially (Andre, 2012).
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