Schizophrenia is a group of severe brain disorders which interfere with a persons interpretation of reality (happenings around him) resulting in combinations of hallucinations, delusions and disordered thinking and behavior.
Schizophrenia is an illness which yields best results when treated early. If not treated early it may become refractory to treatment and may not respond to treatment. If untreated the ability of people with schizophrenia to function normally and to care for themselves tends to deteriorate over time.
Contrary to some popular belief, schizophrenia isn't split personality or multiple personality. The word "schizophrenia" does mean "split mind," but it refers to a disruption of the usual balance of emotions and thinking.
Schizophrenia is a serious mental disorder. It is important to understand that the person is not deliberately behaving abnormally - it is not within his control.
Schizophrenia is caused by biological factors leading to disturbances in chemicals in the brain. Sometimes the problem may disappear on its own, but most often it occurs with no apparent reason. The episode may start at the time of great stress and then the illness runs its course.
A combination of genetics and environment contributes to development of the disease. In a person with a genetic predilection, an environmental trigger causes an imbalance in certain naturally occurring brain chemicals, including the neurotransmitters dopamine and glutamate, thereby causing the symptoms of schizophrenia. Neuroimaging studies support evidence that schizophrenia is a brain disease.
Certain factors seem to increase the risk of developing or triggering schizophrenia, including:
Left untreated, schizophrenia can result in severe emotional, behavioral and health problems, as well as legal and financial problems that affect every area of life. Complications that schizophrenia may cause or be associated with include:
Treatment Schizophrenia is a chronic condition that requires lifelong treatment, even when symptoms have subsided. Treatment with medications and psychosocial therapy can help manage the condition. During crisis periods or times of severe symptoms, hospitalization may be necessary to ensure safety, proper nutrition, adequate sleep and basic hygiene.
Medications are the cornerstone of schizophrenia treatment. Today we have a wide range of medication with little or no side effects that can help a person with schizophrenia to lead a "normal" productive life. We have a large number of patients with schizophrenia who are leading productive lives as software engineers, top level managers, financial consultants etc.
Antipsychotic medications are the most commonly prescribed to treat schizophrenia. They're thought to control symptoms by affecting the brain neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin. A person's willingness to cooperate with treatment may affect medication choice. Someone who is uncooperative may need to be given injections instead of taking a pill.
Although medications are the cornerstone of schizophrenia treatment, once psychosis recedes, psychosocial treatments also are important. These may include:
Signs and symptoms of schizophrenia generally are divided into three categories — positive, negative and cognitive.
These reflect an excess or distortion of normal functions. These active, abnormal symptoms may include:
Negative symptoms refer to a diminishment or absence of characteristics of normal function. They may appear months or years before positive symptoms. They include:
Cognitive symptoms involve problems with thought processes. These symptoms may be the most disabling in schizophrenia, because they interfere with the ability to perform routine daily tasks. A person with schizophrenia may be born with these symptoms, but they may worsen when the disorder starts. They include:
Schizophrenia also can affect mood, causing depression or mood swings. In addition, people with schizophrenia often seem inappropriate and odd, causing others to avoid them, which leads to social isolation.
Hospitalization is at times necessary when the person's behavior is harmful to himself or others, or when the person is not looking after his own basic needs any more. Also, it may be necessary to make sure the person is getting his medication regularly. Schizophrenic patients can sometimes refuse to accept medicines from relatives because they imagine they are being poisoned.
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