Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that usually appears in late adolescence or early adulthood. It is characterized by delusions, hallucinations, and other cognitive difficulties. Currently, there is no permanent cure for this disease, and often is a lifelong struggle.
Schizophrenia most commonly strikes between the ages of 16 and 30, and males tend to show symptoms at a slightly younger age than females. In many cases, the disorder develops so slowly, but in others, it can appear suddenly and develop quickly.
Schizophrenia affects approximately 1 percent of all adults, globally. Experts believe this disease is a combination of several illnesses.
Symptoms include delusions, hallucinations, and disorganized thoughts.
A sizable proportion of people with schizophrenia have to rely on others because they are unable to hold a job or care for themselves.
Many may also resist treatment, arguing that there is nothing wrong with them.
Major symptoms include:
Delusions, the patient fears he’s being persecuted and/or has delusions of grandeur
Hallucinations, hears voices and/or sees, feels, tastes, or smells things that are actually non-existent
Thought disorder, jumps from one subject to another for no logical reason. The speaker is erratic
Lack of motivation, the patient has no drive. Everyday activities such as hygiene, are neglected.
Social withdrawal, avoids social interaction, has no friends
Unawareness of illness, as the hallucinations and delusions seem so real for patients, many of them may not believe they are ill. They may refuse to take medication for fear of side effects, or for fear that the medication may be poison, for example.
Cognitive difficulties, the person can not concentrate, recall things, plan ahead, is generally disorganized
The factors listed below are thought to be possible contributors:
- Genetics, the risk rises to 10 percent if a parent was diagnosed,
Chemical brain imbalance, Experts believe that an imbalance of neurotransmitters, dopamine and serotonin are involved
- Environmental factors, Researchers believe that trauma before birth and viral infections may contribute to the development of the disease.
Treatment can help relieve many of the symptoms. However, the majority of patients with the disorder have to cope with the symptoms for life. in most cases, treatments will be a combination of counseling and medications.
The most common medications are
- Risperidone (Risperdal) – less sedating than other atypical antipsychotics. Weight gain and diabetes are possible side effects, but are less likely to happen, compared with Clozapine or Olanzapine.
Ziprasidone (Geodon) – the risk of weight gain and diabetes is lower than other atypical antipsychotics. However, it might contribute to cardiac arrhythmia.
Clozapine (Clozaril) – effective for patients who have been resistant to treatment. It is known to lower suicidal behaviors in patients with schizophrenia. The risk of weight gain and diabetes is significant.
Haloperidol – an antipsychotic used to treat schizophrenia. It has a long-lasting effect (weeks).
The support of family, friends, and community is important.