What exactly is Schizophrenia? Schizophrenia is a serious brain disorder which distorts the way a person thinks, acts, expresses emotions, perceives reality, and relates to others. Those who have schizophrenia- the most chronic and disabling of the major mental illnesses- often have problems functioning in society, at work, at school, and in relationships. Schizophrenia can leave its sufferer frightened and withdrawn. It’s a life-long disease that cannot be cured but can be controlled with the proper treatment.
On the contrary, Schizophrenia is not a split or multiple personality. In fact, it’s a psychosis, a type of mental illness in which a person cannot tell what is real from what is imagined. Sometimes, those with psychotic disorders lose touch with reality. This can cause them to believe that the world is a jumble of confusing thoughts, images, and sounds. The behavior of those with schizophrenia may be very strange and even shocking. A sudden change in personality and behavior, which occurs when schizophrenia sufferers lose touch with reality, is often called a psychotic episode.
So, what are the symptoms of Schizophrenia? Those who have schizophrenia may have a number of symptoms involving changes in functioning, thinking, perception, behavior, and personality, and they may display different kinds of behavior at different times as well. Schizophrenia is a long term mental illness which usually shows its first signs in men in their late or early 20’s, while in women, it tends to be in their early 20’s and 30’s. The period where the symptoms first start to arise and before the onset of full psychosis is called the prodromal period. This can last days, weeks or even years. Sometimes, it can be difficult to recognize because there is usually no specific trigger.
So, what causes Schizophrenia? Well, the exact cause is not yet known. It’s known, however, that schizophrenia-like cancer and diabetes- is a real illness with a biological basis. It’s not the result of bad parenting or personal weakness.
Researchers have uncovered a number of factors that appear to play a role in the development of schizophrenia, which include:
- Genetics (heredity): Schizophrenia can run in families, which means a greater likelihood to develop schizophrenia may be passed on from parents to their children.
- Brain Chemistry and Circuits: People with schizophrenia may have abnormal regulation of certain chemicals (neurotransmitters) in the brain, related to specific pathways or “circuits” of nerve cells that affect thinking and behavior. The different brain circuits form networks for communication throughout the brain. Scientists think that problems with how these circuits operate may result from trouble with certain receptors on nerve cells for key neurotransmitters, or with other cells in the nervous system that provide support to nerve cells within brain circuits. The illness is not believed to be simply a deficiency or “imbalance” of brain chemicals, as was once thought.
these are just a few factors that play in the role of developing Schizophrenia. So, how common is Schizophrenia? Schizophrenia occurs in about 1% of the population. About 2.2 million Americans, age 18 and older, will develop schizophrenia.
So, how is Schizophrenia treated? Those with Schizophrenia may be treated in a variety of ways. One way is through one of many different medications to help stabilize them. Another option is coordinated specialty care and another is through psychotherapy. Also, you could be hospitalized, have electroconvulsive therapy and research may be done as well.
As you can see Schizophrenia can be very harmful. It can make a person very unsafe to be around. If you would like to learn more about Schizophrenia and how you can help someone who may be struggling please feel free to visit: https://www.webmd.com/schizophrenia/mental-health-schizophrenia#6 and as always, if you feel like you or someone you know has the symptoms/signs of schizophrenia please talk to your doctor for proper treatment.