Understanding Schizophrenia: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment
Mental illness is a problem that affects a person’s health. It interferes with how a person thinks, behaves and interacts with other people in the surroundings. This problem is also referred to as a mental disorder. However, there is a slight difference between mental illness and mental disorder. Mental illness is, at times, curable after some time. Mental disorders may be inborn. It is said to cause many problems for the people affected and those around them. According to a report by the World Health Organization, mental illness becomes severe with time. Depression is one of the worst mental illnesses affecting many people today. This is due to the changing life circumstances. Other types include eating disorders, personality problems, schizophrenia and anxiety.
Mental illness is a norm in society, just like other diseases, and in our paper, we will look into Schizophrenia. Mental illness has led to the alienation of the mentally sick in society, and adequate measures should be taken to prevent mental illness.
People with mental illness need a lot of support from the people around them and a lot of encouragement and understanding. They should not be blamed for their situations. Most mental illnesses can be treated if the signs are realized in good time. It is said that this illness occurs depending on different situations, and this dictates how it can be treated. It is not true that people with mental illness are dangerous. These are just stereotypes that people have. Mentally ill people should not be isolated because they recover more when interacting with people. One of the biggest challenges that people with mental illness encounter is stigmatization. People do not want to associate with them because they fear them.
Mental illness is said to be caused by stress, and others may inherit it. With the increased workload and social expectations in society, stress and depression are said to be on the rise. People want to meet so many expectations. They multitask so that they can be able to cope with life-changing situations, and at the end of it all, they cause stress to themselves. People compete for social class and economic empowerment to be at a certain level in society, thus becoming victims of mental illness (Roleff 2000).
One of the mental illness aspects that affects many people is the panic disorder. This is normally caused by fear that something bad may happen. The person lives in fear and thus gets repeated attacks. Panic disorder normally affects women. Women are more prone to panic than men. The cause of panic disorder has not been identified yet. It is, at times, mistaken for a heart attack. However, a heart attack is more lethal than a panic disorder. It is unpredictable; it happens anytime and takes about 10 to 20 minutes. Others, however, take longer. Most people with this problem always live in fear of another attack. This affects how they lead their lives; some fear being left alone at home or work.
Social phobia is also another aspect of mental illness. This may be caused by fear of being in social places with many people. One develops the fear of being scrutinized or being seen by many people. This may be caused by overprotective parents or during adolescence. It normally affects women. This can be a very dangerous illness because the victims look for an alternative way to counter their phobia. They may engage in drugs or other things that may affect them negatively. People with social phobia are always very careful and afraid to try new things in public. It is characterized by trembling, sweating, difficulty in talking and blushing. This phobia can be treated by seeing a psychiatrist for cognitive counseling.
Seasonal affective disorder is another aspect of mental illness that is uncommon. It normally occurs during cold seasons like winter and autumn. It, however, improves in hot or warm seasons, i.e., spring and summer. It is, at times, characterized by a lot of appetite and weight gain, loss of energy and sluggishness. This can be regulated by doing a lot of exercises, walking during the day to reduce fatigue and being socially active. This means attending social gatherings and hanging out with friends.
The most common aspect of mental illness in the world is alcoholism. This is more of the physical addiction that a person goes through. They are always taking alcohol and do not care what happens to them. This is normally caused by depression or a psychological problem. This problem normally affects teenagers and men. For teenagers, it is all about fitting into their social peers. They end up being addicts and not being productive in society. This can only be stopped through total abstinence and avoiding places with alcohol.,/p>
Schizophrenia is one of the many mental illnesses, and a person suffering from the disease experiences a disintegration of emotional responsiveness and thought processes. It is characterized by wacky delusions, disorganized thinking and speech, auditory hallucinations, and paranoia. Considerable occupational and social dysfunctions of the victims accompany these. Some contributing factors to this illness are social and psychological processes, genetics, early environment, and prescription and recreational drugs. The disorder is not only cognition but also leads to persistent emotional and behavioral problems, anxiety disorders and major depression. Some social problems these people face include poverty, homelessness and unemployment for a long time. Due to the health problems and the high rate of committing suicide by these people with the disorder, their life expectancy is twelve to fifteen years less than that of a normal person.
Reports of individuals’ unintelligible, irrational or uncontrolled behaviors were common before the nineteenth century, although evidence in reports indicating this is not there. In 1962, a case report was regarded as the earliest case in the psychiatric and medical literature of the illness. Emil Kraepelin elaborated schizophrenia as a syndrome that affects young adults and teenagers. Other terms used in the past for the illness included dementia praecox. Emil Kraepelin came up with a distinction of mental disorders and broadly distinguished between mood disorder and dementia praecox. According to Kraepelin, dementia praecox was solely a disease that affected the brain and occurred later in life, unlike the other types of dementia. Schizophrenia has its roots in the Greek heredity, which roughly means “splitting of the mind”. Kraepelin came up with this meaning with he intended to describe the disconnection between thinking, memory, personality and perception of a person suffering from the illness. He further described the symptoms of the disease as autism, flattened affect, ambivalence and an impaired association of ideas. The treatment of schizophrenia was renewed in the 1960s with the introduction and development of chlorpromazine. (Kraepelin 1962)
Signs and Symptoms
Someone diagnosed with this illness may experience delusions that are often persecutory or bizarre, disorganized speech and thinking and hallucinations that entail the victim’s “hearing voices”. When an individual experiences disorganized speech, the train of thought is lost, and the meaning of sentences is lost due to them being loosely connected and incoherent. These people lose judgment and motivation; they have hygiene and sloppy dress codes and tend to withdraw from society. Some other people may even become mute, show signs of purposeless agitation, or remain immobile in bizarre postures.
The onset periods for schizophrenia are early adulthood and late adolescence. This is where the vocational and social development is high and at its peak. It is worth noting that twenty-three percent and forty percent of women and men, respectively, who were diagnosed with the disease, began having the symptoms of the condition when they were below nineteen years of age.
Negative and Positive Symptoms
The positive symptoms of the disease are the ones that are present in people with schizophrenia, but they do not experience them. They include disordered speech and thought, hallucinations such as auditory, visual, olfactory, and tactile hallucinations and delusions. These symptoms react very well with medication and can be cured, unlike the negative symptoms that require long-term treatment. The negative symptoms include:
- Poor speech (logia).
- The lack of aspirations to form relationships.
- Incapability to experience pleasure and lack of motivation.
According to research, these negative symptoms are the greatest contributors to functional disability, burden on others and meager value of life. People with these symptoms respond very poorly to treatment.
Environmental and genetic factors play a very big role in the development of schizophrenia. There is also a twenty to forty percent chance of people with a history of the disease in the family to suffer the disease, too. Genes are probably involved in the spread of this disease to some small extent. One of the major threats to developing the disease is having a first-degree relative who has suffered from the disease in the past. These genes include NOTCH4, copy number variations, protein loci and zinc protein 804A. The environment also plays a vital role in the development of the disease. Such environmental factors include prenatal stressors, family dysfunction, the living environment, poor housing conditions, unemployment, immigration, social isolation and racial discrimination. Those individuals who have experienced trauma or abuse in their childhood years are at a very high risk of schizophrenia. Drugs such as cocaine, amphetamines, alcohol and cannabis have been related to the causes of schizophrenia. Infection and hypoxia in pregnant women or malnutrition and stress have a slight risk of schizophrenia in the child later in life.
Psychological factors have been said to cause and maintain schizophrenia. Those people in confusing circumstances or under stress have cognitive biases. Some brain imaging technologies, such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), have studied the brain and its connection to schizophrenia. It has been noted that those people with schizophrenia have changes in the chemistry and structure of the brain.
Other causes of schizophrenia include physical injury to the brain, allergic infection or reaction, hormonal activity or viruses, and stressful events in life.
Medication/Methods of Treatment
Antipsychotic or narcoleptic drugs are administered to the patients to control the positive symptoms. These drugs have a soothing action, which makes it even more difficult to deal with side effects. The side effects include rapid heartbeat, blurred vision, constipation and dizziness. There are also neuromuscular effects, including muscle shaking, stiffness, and sexual side effects. Others, such as chlorpromazine, have permanent side effects such as muscle spasms and involuntary movement. People are being advised to use newer narcoleptics like olanzapine, amisurpride and zotepine, which have fewer side effects and improve the negative symptoms that are very hard to control and treat.
The drugs may come in different forms: injectable, syrup or tablets and may be taken monthly, fortnightly, weekly or daily. Some people may take a very short time to get well and come out of medication, unlike others who take a long time. (Moe 2001)
Mental illness has a very great impact on the overall well-being of a person and causes a great deal of discomfort. Therefore, mentally ill people must be given full support by the people around them. This disorder can affect anyone of whichever age. It is then required of people to be keen on any signs that are not consistent. It is only when people are cautious that such atrocities are prevented.
1. Kraepelin, Emil. One hundred years of psychiatry. New York (NY): Philosophical Library, 1962.
2. Moe, B., Coping With Mental Illness. New York (NY): The Rosen Publishing Group, 2001.
3. Roleff, T. & Egendorf, L., Mental Illness, California: Green Haven Press, 2000.