Psychosis

Other names: Schizophrenia

DEFINITION

Schizophrenia is a severe brain disorder characterized by abnormal interpretations of reality. It involves symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions, and disordered thinking and behavior. Contrary to popular belief, schizophrenia is not the same as having a split or multiple personality. Instead, it refers to a disruption in the usual balance of emotions and thinking. Schizophrenia is a chronic condition that requires lifelong treatment.

SYMPTOMS

Symptoms of schizophrenia typically start in early to mid-20s for men and late 20s for women. Symptoms may include delusions, hallucinations, disorganized thinking (speech), extremely disorganized or abnormal motor behavior, and negative symptoms. In teenagers, symptoms may be harder to recognize and can include withdrawal from friends, drop in school performance, trouble sleeping, irritability, or lack of motivation.

CAUSES

The exact cause of schizophrenia is unknown but is believed to involve a combination of genetics and environmental factors. Problems with brain chemicals like dopamine and glutamate are thought to contribute to the development of schizophrenia. Neuroimaging studies have shown differences in brain structure among individuals with schizophrenia, supporting the idea that it is a brain disease.

RISK FACTORS

Factors that increase the risk of developing schizophrenia include family history of the disorder, exposure to viruses or toxins during pregnancy, immune system activation, older age of the father, and use of mind-altering drugs during teen years and young adulthood.

COMPLICATIONS

Untreated schizophrenia can lead to severe emotional, behavioral, and health problems. Complications may include suicide, self-injury, anxiety, depression, substance abuse, poverty, homelessness, family conflicts, inability to work or attend school, social isolation, health problems related to medication side effects or poor lifestyle choices.

PREPARING FOR YOUR APPOINTMENT

When seeking help for someone with schizophrenia, it's important to provide detailed information about their symptoms and personal history. Make a list of symptoms, stresses or life changes, medications being taken, and questions for the doctor. Accompanying your loved one to appointments can help in understanding the condition better.

TESTS AND DIAGNOSIS

Diagnosing schizophrenia involves medical and psychiatric evaluations along with tests such as blood tests and imaging studies. Diagnostic criteria outlined in the DSM involve ruling out other mental health disorders and confirming specific symptoms over a period of time.

TREATMENTS AND DRUGS

Treatment for schizophrenia typically involves medications such as antipsychotics along with psychosocial interventions like therapy and skills training. Atypical antipsychotics are commonly prescribed due to lower risk of side effects compared to conventional antipsychotics.

LIFESTYLE AND HOME REMEDIES

Early treatment can help manage symptoms before complications arise. Sticking with the treatment plan and learning about risk factors can aid in preventing relapses or worsening symptoms.

COPING AND SUPPORT

Coping with schizophrenia can be challenging but education about the condition, joining support groups, staying focused on goals, and practicing relaxation techniques can help individuals with schizophrenia and their loved ones cope better.


QUESTIONS

  1. What is Schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a severe brain disorder characterized by abnormal interpretations of reality.

  1. When do symptoms of Schizophrenia typically start in men and women?

In men typically start in early to mid-20s while in women they start in late 20s.

  1. What are some common symptoms of Schizophrenia?

Symptoms may include delusions, hallucinations, disorganized thinking (speech), extremely disorganized or abnormal motor behavior.

  1. What factors increase the risk of developing Schizophrenia?

Factors include family history of the disorder, exposure to viruses or toxins during pregnancy.

  1. How is Schizophrenia diagnosed?

Diagnosis involves medical and psychiatric evaluations along with tests such as blood tests and imaging studies.

  1. What are some complications associated with untreated Schizophrenia?

Complications may include suicide, self-injury, anxiety, depression.

  1. What are some common treatments for Schizophrenia?

Treatments typically involve medications such as antipsychotics along with psychosocial interventions like therapy.

  1. Why is early treatment important for Schizophrenia?

Early treatment may help manage symptoms before serious complications develop.

  1. How can individuals with Schizophrenia cope better?

Coping strategies may include learning about the condition through education and joining support groups.

  1. What lifestyle changes can help individuals with Schizophrenia?

Sticking with the treatment plan and practicing relaxation techniques can aid in managing symptoms effectively.