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What are Schizophrenia causes? How is schizphrenia different from catatonia? What are it’s medications?

Daniel works with an insurance company, and has been with his company for about five years now. He’s well known and loved because he’s considered a social person, makes friends pretty easily, hangs out with them and has had a couple of relationships in the past.

Lately his co-workers and even clients noticed a change in his attitude, it first started out by keeping to himself( which could be excused for a bad mood), and in his conversations, he went out of context frequently, except when he’s called back to the point of discussion.

Then, there was the complaint of noises which no one could hear. His friend, Carl didn’t want to overlook it as many did. He contacted a known psychologist, and fixed an appointment for his friend. After the consultation, the psychologist got wind of what was happening to Daniel, and later referred him to a psychiatrist…

WHAT IS SCHIZOPHRENIA?
Schizophrenia is a chronic mental health disorder that disturbs(affect) people from thinking clearly, including their emotions and how they interact with the world. It is characterised by hallucinations,delusional thinking,disorganized speech, lack of motivation and other basic symptoms.

Schizophrenia is classified under psychotic diseases. In psychosis(inability to be in touch with reality), the affected individuals do not come to terms with the fact that they have a problem or that they need help. And so, schizophrenic persons do not believe that there is anything wrong their perception, beliefs or thinking patterns and more often than not, they end up feeling misunderstood.

There’s a common misconception about schizophrenia; that people with schizophrenia have multiple personalities. This is not true although people believe so because of the presence of relapses( when symptoms worsen) and remission ( when symptoms disappear or are improved).People's beliefs about individuals with schizophrenia; that they have multiple personalities,this is not true

WHAT ARE THE TYPES OF SCHIZOPHRENIA?
There are four main categories which individuals with schizophrenia fall in

Paranoid Schizophrenia: Paranoia is so palpable here, it could be so extreme as to earn the distrust of people around him/her, they may exhibit irrational behaviours and responses.

Catatonic Schizophrenia: Here, there is loss of normal behaviours, such less interest in social or goal oriented activities and so on, there is no zeal and he is not bothered to do them.

Undifferentiated Schizophrenia: Poor hygiene is observed here, even though the individual may not show primary symptoms, and the symptoms that are being exhibited may go unnoticed.

Schizoaffective Schizophrenia: Hallucinations, delusions, delirium and other cognitive symptoms which are associated with other psychotic disorders such as mania, depression present here.

WHAT CAUSES SCHIZOPHRENIA AND HOW DOES IT DEVELOP?
As said earlier, it is chronic,which suggests the fact that it develops over time. Although it’s causes are yet to be fully understood, a lot of experts are of the view that Schizophrenia compounds from genetic and environmental origins.

Other things that could pose as a risk factor to having schizophrenia could be from traumatic experiences such as the death of a loved one, loss of a job, break-up or divorce; physical injuries to the brain, stressful events in life could trigger the occurrence of this psychotic problems.

Research has also shown a strong relationship between the use and abuse of substance ( with special reference to cannabis) and the development of schizophrenia, because the substance use has been a major connecting factor to mental health problems around the world.

HOW DOES SCHIZOPHRENIA AFFECT A PERSON?
Schizophrenia affects a person in several ways as symptoms vary amongst individuals. But then,the basic presentations are changes in normal behaviour, hearing sounds which other people cannot, discontinuation of normal activities, inability to make decisions clearly, abnormal speech, delusions (cognitive impairment is affected too), inability to concentrate, hallucinations.

Some of these symptoms have been classified into positive, negative and cognitive symptoms.

Positive symptoms manifest as hallucinations( the person hears voices or see things that no one can), delusions which are strange beliefs, for instance someone you know is plotting against you or is chasing you, unusual motor activity.

Negative symptoms, has more to do with loss of a normal behaviour such as depression, poor hygiene, low sex drive, loss of interest in social activities, reduction in expressing emotions, difficulty with beginning or continuing an activity.

Cognitive symptoms: Disordered speech, poor concentration and attention to activities or things, confusion(delirium), problems with recalling things, reduced mental performance, poor acceptance of information.

WHO IS MORE LIKELY TO HAVE SCHIZOPHRENIA?
This mental illness is seen in every country and cuts across almost all cultures. Statistical studies reveal that it affects 1 in every 100 people.

It occurs slightly more in men than in women. There is an earlier onset in males, as they present symptoms as early as 15-25 years while that for women comes in 20’s of early 30’s.

Also, studies has shown a strong genetic/hereditary link to schizophrenia. This implies that having a parent or relation who has schizophrenia place one at a higher risk of having schizophrenia (even though persons with schizophrenic relatives end up not having it).

This risk is increased by 10% if an immediate family member, let’s say a brother or possibly a parent has this problem. Also,having a twin who is schizophrenic might increase it to as high as 65%. This strong relationship with genetics is tied down to how genes regulate and affect development of the brain, and the connection of nerve cells to one another.
People who take hard drugs(substance misuse) are more likely to be schizophrenic, because this substance distorts how the nervous system works.

DOES SCHIZOPHRENIA OCCUR IN CHILDREN?
It occurs more in adulthood especially early stages of adult life. This doesn’t rule out the fact that it can’t be found in children,although this occurrences happen rarely.

WHAT MAKES SCHIZOPHRENIA DIFFERENT FROM OTHER PSYCHOTIC DISEASES?
There are many psychotic diseases that differ from schizophrenia despite having the same baseline(retardation in mental health).
These range from mania, obsessive compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder, etc.
Many of these diseases overlap when trying to make a diagnosis based on symptom presentation. Schizophrenia presents almost simultaneously its cognitive symptoms with it’s mood symptoms, even though these mood symptoms relapse and remit. Individuals present these symptoms and when making diagnosis, doctors takes note of how the symptoms appear and might take up to six months before making a concrete diagnosis.

CAN SCHIZOPHRENIA EVER GO AWAY (GET CURED)?
With so much innovations,research and studies, scientists are getting to know more about the disease and this shows a light in the tunnel in the future to finding the cure, and even more effective therapies.

Whilst there is no cure for this illness, about 99% of schizophrenic individuals might need long-term treatment that is heavily dependent on anti-psychotic drugs, counselling as well as therapy and rehabilitation. This will help them cope with their environment, and ensure stability in their lives.

Although, for individuals with schizoaffective schizophrenia, other medications such as anti-depressants and even mood stabilizers are required.

HOW CAN ONE PREVENT SCHIZOPHRENIA FROM GETTING WORSE?
For someone who has been diagnosed of schizophrenia,it’s of utmost importance that they follow their medications and physician’s advice/ instructions well (if possible, strictly).

This is because when they become inconsistent or become lackadaisical attitude to these, even while they are responding well to these and leading stable lives, they may often enter into a relapse. And this could limit the progress made so far. This could affect their social and economic well being as they could return to their previous states and lose touch with their environment.