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What exactly is Schizophrenia?

a black and white picture of a depressed man

Schizophrenia is a disorder that attacks the human brain. It messes up with your thoughts and has a great impact on your daily life. But what exactly is this disorder, and how can we treat it? Let’s find out!

Definition of Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a serious mental disorder. In this condition, the patient finds great difficulty in distinguishing between real and unreal things. He experiences hallucinations that render him to think clearly. It is a chronic disorder with symptoms that can range from mild confusions to serious hallucinations.

Signs and Symptoms

The most common ones are stated below.

1. Impaired Speech

Patients suffering from this disorder cannot speak properly. Their brain cannot process any information. This is why even when they talk; it does not make any sense.

Sometimes, they try to speak. But, struggle in making proper sentences.

2. Negative Symptoms

Negative symptoms mean that these patients do not care about their living conditions. For example, they don’t shower, avoid eating, and even stop showing emotions. According to research, negative symptoms may also appear quite early in the illness. However, they become more notable during the later stages, often after the positive symptoms have remitted or diminished.

3. Abnormal Behavior

This is the stage when people usually realize that something is wrong. They struggle to focus on one thing. It becomes almost impossible for them to do any task normally.

No matter how good they were before this condition, they start lacking. For example, if a person used to be good in school, his grades will start falling suddenly.

4. Delusions

Schizophrenic people are delusional. They think of the things that are not real. They believe in stuff that does not exist.For example, they might think that everyone is against them, and they are alone. Otherwise, they will feel like someone is stalking them and wants to kill them. Sometimes, they even believe that a certain person loves them even if they do not know them.

5. Impaired Motor Skills

These patients behave like a two-year-old. Their motor skills can get pretty messed up, and they do not listen to commands. If you challenge them to do something, it gets quite challenging for them to accomplish it.

For them, almost everything is a struggle. Sometimes, they even lose their facialexpressions.

6. Hallucinations

Hallucinations are one of the most common and crucial symptoms of this disease. When a person is hallucinating, certain pictures and scenarios play in his mind, which are quite far from reality. However, for a schizophrenic patient, they seem pretty real.

For more information on signs, symptoms, and diagnosis of schizophrenia, check out this study by an American Neurologist, Nancy Coover Andreasen.

Is it a Multiple-Personality Disorder?

When we hear the word schizophrenia, our minds may consider it as some sort of a multiple personality disorder. However, this is not the case. This confusion is raised because of a simple linguistic error, mixed with the recurring mistakes we see in popular culture and online.

The root of this confusion comes from the name of the disease. It is a combination of the Greek word ‘skhizein’ meaning split, and ‘phren’ meaning mind. So, it is not anybody’s fault that this disease is thought to be one of the dissociative identity disorders.

Schizophrenia has entirely different symptoms. It is a mind-numbing disease. Patients lose the complete sense of reality, which is entirely different compared to the case of personality disorders.

How Do Doctors Diagnose Schizophrenia?

There is no test to identify this disease. When doctors look into such cases, they thoroughly examine the mental condition of the patient and then make their diagnosis. The approach to diagnosing schizophrenia is as follows:

Standard Steps

First of all, a doctor looks at history, previous incidents, and the current condition of the patient. He also evaluates whether the subject is on drugs or has any other conditions besides the presenting complaint.

This helps him in the assessment of the patient’s condition. It is essential to know where the root of symptoms is. And, these steps aid in this matter.

Basic Criteria

A doctor is likely to diagnose schizophrenia in a patient if he has two of the following conditions:

  • If the patient has experienced hallucinations
  • If he is delusional
  • If he has disturbed behavior
  • If he finds difficulty in speech
  • If he experiences negative thoughts

Other Criteria

If a person has the following symptoms, then a doctor will diagnose him with schizophrenia.

Treatment of Schizophrenia

The treatment of schizophrenia is as complex as the disease. There is a standard protocol for it. But it is specific to each patient. When doctors make up a regimen, they ensure to keep everything in mind – from symptom relief to rehabilitation.

The following are branches for the proper treatment of this disease.

  • Medications

Like any other disorder, medications are essential to treat this condition. Normally, doctors prescribe certain antipsychotics and relaxants to the patients. These medicines increase their focus, helps them with thinking straight, and alsoreduces the chance of any serious episode of psychosis.

  • Family Training

Family training is crucial when it comes to taking care of a schizophrenic patient. These programs help the families to take care of their loved ones and enable them to differentiate between certain symptoms. Moreover, family training also trains them to provide basic healthcare at home.

Family intervention programs that are aimed at educating relatives and helping them cope more effectively with the patient’s illness have shown positive effects on the course of schizophrenia. It is crucial in the sense that whenever situations get out of control, the family can inform the professionals right away.

  • Personal Therapy

Self-help is the most important part of the treatment in cases of schizophrenia. These therapy programs enable the patient to recognize their signs. It also helps them to control their thoughts. It boosts their confidence and gives them a chance to accept their disease. Not only that, but, it also helps them to learn how to live with it peacefully.

  • Care Program

These programs are specially created for schizophrenic patients. A patient is provided with a safe place where they can talk freely and discuss their thoughts without getting judged.

Not only that, but they can also hear other people’s journeys. Listening to other people’s success can help them greatly. It boosts their confidence to an unimaginable extent. All in all, it is a very efficient way to build strength in patients.

Complications of Schizophrenia

Some people think that schizophrenia is not that problematic. They even avoid treatment due to the fear of being called crazy. But it is a pretty serious condition. If left untreated, it can prove to be very dangerous. Numerous complications can develop in such cases. Some of them are as follows:

  • Suicidal Thoughts

It is very common for a patient of schizophrenia to have suicidal thoughts. They are at constant risk of suicide. Sometimes, they even try to attempt it. Therefore, their caretakers must monitor their symptoms regularly. That way, they can receive the care they need.

  • Self-isolation

These patients can isolate themselves from others. It is a common symptom but can prove to be quite dangerous.

  • Depression

Schizophrenic patients have a higher tendency to fall into depression than others. They constantly hear voices and feel stuff that does not exist. It is imaginable that they get depressed.

But, the longer they remain in depression, the complicated their condition gets. Thus, it is vital that such people remain happy and avoid stress.

Self-care for Schizophrenic Patients

Patients with such a disease are likely to suffer symptoms that they cannot easily talk about. Therapy is helpful, but it cannot completely change a person’s perspective. These patients have minimal capacity to trust someone. It is tough for them to open up about their disease.

That is why self-help in schizophrenic patients is more than necessary. If they learn how to cope up with their symptoms, they can improve quickly. One can say that self-help heals them from within.

Following are a few things through which a patient can get used to living with this disorder:

  • First of all, they must take their medications on time.
  • They must maintain a healthy life.
  • They should try avoiding any accidents. Any sharp objects or things that can harm them should be kept away.
  • They should be very conscious of their state. They must understand the difference between the usual symptoms and psychotic episodes.

There are different programs to help patients. In such rehabilitation meetings, they receive training for all the above measures. This helps them to become self-dependent as compared to relying on others.

How Can You Help a Schizophrenic Patient?

Schizophrenia does not only affect a person, but it affects the whole family.

The attacks do not come with a warning. Anything can happen at any time. But this does not mean that there is nothing that can be done about it.

If you live with a patient of this condition, the following measures will help you to take care of your loved one:

  • Get to know their symptoms. That way, you can detect whenever they need professional help.
  • Make sure they are taking medicines on time.
  • Be subtle about your concerns. If you tease them a lot, it can be bad for them.
  • When you see something unusual in their behavior, call for professional help.
  • Show them that you’re safe and support them in every way possible.

Conclusion

Undoubtedly, schizophrenia is a severe disease in which people interpret reality abnormally. It affects a person in a way that is hard to imagine. The patients feel a range of symptoms from disturbed behavior tohallucinations.

If detected early, it can get better. But, once a patient is diagnosed, he has to take the treatment for a lifetime. Fortunately, now with advanced therapy, it has become a lot easier to deal with this problem.

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