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Everything that you need to know about Schizophrenia!
Affecting around 21 million people all over the globe, schizophrenia is a psychological disorder that can mess around with a person’s rationality and daily life. It can change how the patient feels, thinks, and reacts. For a person with schizophrenia, the war is between the dark and the light – it is between the reality and the delusions. A lot has been researched on the disorder, and yet the reason remains in the haze. While a few scholars say that it is genetics mainly at fault, some trace it to the irregularities of the brain’s functioning.
The victims of this horrible disorder always feel that their lives are threatened. Some also have delusions where they mistake themselves to be somebody well known and eminent. They are socially handicapped, i.e. they behave restlessly in social gatherings. You are likely to find them all flustered and pacing up and down as if a great tragedy awaits them. They tend to be very fickle with their decisions and jump from one topic to another in an unreasonable manner. Most schizophrenic patients have one thing in common – they can hear nonexistent voices that manoeuvre them and command them to do things.
Even after affecting 8 out of every 1,000 individuals, schizophrenia is still a very vague issue with little known about its treatment and causes. Here are 10 bizarre things that you need to know about the mental disorder.
- It can affect absolutely anyone!
The figure of 21 million itself tells you that the disease is looming large on people these days. And it can affect any person irrespective of the sex, race or lifestyle habits. Having said that, it also has been found that men are more prone to schizophrenia than women. The reason can be two-fold – both biological and social. Biologically, it has been proved that the male brain is less developed than the female brains. Socially, substance abuse leading to higher levels of testosterone can lead to delusions.
- Schizophrenia surfaces itself as early as adolescence
Although the disorder starts showing in the adulthood, the root to the problem goes back in the adolescence during which it stays under control. As they approach their late teens, the symptoms start pronouncing itself. It is generally between the age of 16 to 30 that people start developing schizophrenia. Moreover, it is believed that stress is the key player here. As an adolescent reaches his or her adulthood, social isolation hits causing one to withdraw from the real world. They start staying in denial and have unusual thoughts and suspicions about their surroundings.
- Schizophrenia can run in the gene
It is well known among scientists that schizophrenia can run in families. If someone’s parent or a sibling has schizophrenia, the chances are high that he or she may develop the disorder eventually. Although a family history of psychosis can predict the onset of schizophrenia, one also needs to keep in mind that genetics is not the only reason behind schizophrenia. There are patients who never had the trait in their family tree and yet have fallen prey to it.
- And when genetic, it is many genes at the root of the problem
It has not yet been discovered as to which gene variation or mutation is precisely the cause of the disorder. But what we do know is that there is more than one combination that can directly escalate to schizophrenia. This is precisely why patients suffering from the disorder have to go through multiple clinical trials. Since scientists have not been successful in predicting which gene combination has led to schizophrenia, clinical research helps narrow down the reasons that are likely to cause the disorder in the patient.
- The environment has a huge role to play for the cause of schizophrenia
Some of the environmental factors like pregnancy and/or birth in women can be linked to the development of schizophrenia. In females, onset of prenatal infections like rubella, or pregnancy/delivery complications, like preeclampsia can lead to schizophrenia. Even toxic exposures during pregnancy and maternal stress can cause an onset of the disorder. While in adults, factors like high societal stress, drug abuse, social isolation, and living in an urban environment can be the cause behind the mental illness.
- Schizophrenia symptoms can be of three types
Oxymoron it may sound like, but did you know that the symptoms of schizophrenia can be divided into positive and negative ones? The positive ones include hallucinations, delusions, and unusual ways of thinking. It also includes movement disorders such as restlessness and catatonia.
The Negative symptoms are generally a lack of expressions and emotions. Patients begin to feel unhappy and unsatisfied with their everyday life thus trying to withdraw from it. They reduce social interaction and speak as less as possible. This starts getting in the way of how they lead their daily lives, making the most regular chores seem monumental.
The third category is of the cognitive symptoms that can be really difficult to identify. These include a reduced ability to make rational decisions, inattentiveness and impaired working memory.
- Schizophrenics do not prey. They feel preyed upon.
A common misconception among people is that schizophrenics can be a threat to other humans. What most fail to understand is that there is more possibility that they will hurt themselves than others. Their minds are a web of suicidal thoughts and more than plotting someone else’s murder, they are always looking for chances to kill themselves. And substance abuse increases the likelihood that people with the disorder will become suicidal and violent on themselves more.
- Schizophrenia and Substance abuse goes hand in hand
Be it alcohol or drugs – it is no surprise to us that both can mess around with the workings of the human brains. Especially for a person diagnosed with schizophrenia, the intake of alcohol and drugs can delay and interfere with the treatment. People with schizophrenia who are addicted to alcohol and drugs are also less likely to seek treatment for the disorder. Drugs like marijuana and cannabis have been linked to a more severe and earlier onset of the disorder. Therefore, the first step taken towards the treatment of schizophrenia for someone with substance abuse disorder is to treat the consumption habits.
- Schizophrenia can be treated via non-medical therapies as well
Although medicines can cure schizophrenia, most psychiatrists prefer psychosocial treatments to cure the patients and help them face the challenges of everyday life. From being able to open up and communicate better to forming and maintaining relationships – non-medical treatments fare better than prescribed medications. Schizophrenic patients can also develop better management skills through cognitive behavioural therapy and self-help groups that can help them keep their symptoms in check and improve their quality of life.
- Schizophrenia is still on the research list
Several kinds of research have been conducted, but no stable regime has been formed yet that can be followed to treat schizophrenia. The world does not have a lot of options for treatment that can heal patients totally. Most of the patients respond to the procedures and recover significantly but not entirely.
The biggest problem of treated the disorder is the denial of illness among people suffering from it. Most patients do not take their medication due to their delusions which stop them from confronting the gross reality of their lives. Achieving treatment in schizophrenia therefore still remains a great challenge.
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