Schizophrenia is a severe, chronic, and disabling brain disorder distorting the interpretation of reality. The brain’s chemistry is affected, and an individual may experience hallucinations, delusions, paranoia, and highly disordered thinking and behavior. The afflicted are prone to the belief that others can hear their thoughts and experience other similar delusions, all the while portraying paranoid behavior, catatonic states, and inappropriate behavior. About one percent of Americans are schizophrenic, and it affects more than 21 million people worldwide. In most cases, taking help from mental health treatment centers is inevitable.
Experts believe schizophrenia is caused by a variety of factors. Many environmental factors are held responsible as well, such as exposure to viruses or malnutrition before birth, problems during birth, and other unknown psychosocial factors. Chemical imbalance in the brain involving the neurotransmitters dopamine and glutamate is another probable cause. There are various minor differences noted in the brain of a schizophrenic such as enlarged ventricles, lesser gray matter, and less or more activity in various regions
Schizophrenia normally begins to manifest in an individual between the ages of 18 and 35, though the onset is normally later in women than it is in men. There are three main categories for schizophrenia: positive, negative, and cognitive.
Positive symptoms largely include delusions and hallucinations, which are normally associated with schizophrenia.
- Psychotic behaviors not seen in normal individuals
- Disorganized or dysfunctional thinking
- Inability to express one’s thoughts
- Agitated or repetitive movements
Negative symptoms essentially refer to behavior patterns that show a lack of ability to perform the activities of normal daily life.
- A disruption in normal behavior or feelings
- Silence; won’t talk even when forced to interact
- Activities that bring no pleasure
- Inability to begin or sustain planned activities
- Monotonous voice
- Lack of movement in the person’s face
- Inability to perform daily tasks unassisted
Cognitive symptoms include problems within the brain. It encompasses the inability to:
- Comprehend information or make decisions
- Pay attention or focus
- Utilize information after learning it
The treatment of schizophrenia is life-long and largely based on reducing the symptoms. It will focus on soothing the symptoms and often includes the use of traditional antipsychotic medications and psychosocial treatments such as therapy. Treatments for schizophrenia will differ depending on each person and the severity of their condition. This is why it’s important to find a location and a program that treats the person rather than the disease and does it the right way.
Cognitive behavioral therapy, focusing on thoughts and behavior, can help schizophrenics with finding ways to test the reality of their thoughts and feelings. For those with severe schizophrenia, hospitalization might be the best option.
Psychosocial therapy can also provide additional help for those who have already been stabilized through medication.
The evidence-based treatment programs deal with mild to moderate levels of schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder, which refers to a person suffering from not just schizophrenic symptoms but an affective mood disorder too. The customized and individualistic treatments are based on a detailed assessment prior to treatment, designed to identify and treat any other co-occurring conditions.