Know Your Disorder

Schizophrenia

By Vrunda Patel (Intern, Department of Mental Health Education, NIMHANS)

Schizophrenia is a serious mental disorder in which person lose the touch with reality. In this, the person is unable to cope up with his emotions and make any decisions. It affects the person’s ability to feel, behave and think. Although it is not as common as other disorders but it can severely affect the person and can last lifetime.

Signs and Symptoms:
The symptoms of Schizophrenia can be broadly categorized into three: Positive, Negative, and Cognitive. Positive symptoms relate to the behaviours that are not seem to be healthy instead they tend to lose the person’s touch with reality while Negative symptoms relate to the disturbance in normal emotions and behaviour. Cognitive symptoms, on the other hand are associated with the memory and thinking process.

  1. Positive Symptoms:
  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Movement disorder
  • Thought disorder
  1. Negative Symptoms:
  • Reduced expressing of emotions through facial expressions
  • Reduced feeling happiness
  • Reduced speaking
  1. Cognitive Symptoms:
  • Trouble Concentrating
  • Working memory problems
  • Trouble executing functionality

Causes:
The various causes associated to Schizophrenia are:

  • Genes: Schizophrenia runs in families, the risk factor increases by 10% if the parent is diagnosed while for others with no such family background there are less than 1% chances of being diagnosed by it.

  • Brain Structure: Problems with the brain development during the birth can lead to schizophrenia. The brain majorly undergoes changes during puberty which is also one of the reasons for the distortion of heathy brain structure.

  • Family relationships: A healthy family environment is needed for the heathy mind. Family tension trigger relapses.

  • Environmental factors: Factors like malnutrition, exposed to virus, inflammation and autoimmune diseases have high risks of schizophrenia.

  • Substance abuse: Overuse of drugs like marijuana and LSD leads to schizophrenia.

Who is at risk?
Although schizophrenia can occur to a person at any stage of his life, it is most likely to occur for men is during his early 20s while it is late 20s and 30s for women.

Treatment:

  • Medication: Daily taken in the form of pill or liquid form. There are side effects of it which tends to go away after few days.

  • Psychological Counselling: Cognitive Behavioural therapy, reduce positive symptoms at a faster rate. Assertive Community treatment and supportive therapy, for self-care.

How to help a person with Schizophrenia:

  • Encourage them to get the treatment and continue it.

  • Their illusions can make them take drastic steps, always keep in mind to understand their delusions and hallucinations to help them according to the situation.

  • Be supportive and respectful towards them.

  • Look out for support groups for them.

During sever condition, call the emergency number 911 immediately or at least take the person to the nearby hospital safely.

References:
[1] Christian Nordqvist (2017, December 7). “Understanding the symptoms of schizophrenia”. Medical News Today. Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/36942.php
[2]
National Institute of Mental Health(2016).”Schizophrenia”. National Institute of Mental Health. Retrieved from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/schizophrenia/index.shtml
[3] National Alliance on Mental Illness. “Schizophrenia”.
National Alliance on Mental Illness (nami.org).Retrieved from https://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-Conditions/Schizophrenia