Schizophrenia

Written & Researched by Parkhi



Overview

A disorder that affects a person's ability to think, feel and behave clearly.

The exact cause of schizophrenia isn't known, but a combination of genetics, environment and altered brain chemistry and structure may play a role.


Symptoms

Schizophrenia is characterised by thoughts or experiences that seem out of touch with reality, disorganised speech or behaviour and decreased participation in daily activities. Difficulty with concentration and memory may also be present.



Patients may experience :


Behavioural: social isolation, disorganised behaviour, aggression, agitation, compulsive behaviour, excitability, hostility, repetitive movements, self-harm, or lack of restraint


Cognitive: thought disorder, delusion, amnesia, belief that an ordinary event has special and personal meaning, belief that thoughts aren't one's own, disorientation, mental confusion, slowness in activity, or false belief of superiority


Mood: anger, anxiety, apathy, feeling detached from self, general discontent, loss of interest or pleasure in activities, elevated mood, or inappropriate emotional response


Psychological: hallucination, paranoia, hearing voices, depression, fear, persecutory delusion, or religious delusion


Speech: circumstantial speech, incoherent speech, rapid and frenzied speaking, or speech disorder


Also common: fatigue, impaired motor coordination, lack of emotional response, or memory loss.



Positive Symptoms of Schizophrenia: Things That Might Start Happening

Please note that positive symptoms are highly exaggerated ideas, perceptions, or actions that show the person can’t tell what’s real from what isn’t. Please not that here the word "positive" means the presence (rather than absence) of symptoms. They can include:

  • Hallucinations. People with schizophrenia might hear, see, smell, or feel things no one else does. The types of hallucinations in schizophrenia include: - Auditory. The person most often hears voices in their head. They might be angry or urgent and demand that they do things. It can sound like one voice or many. They might whisper, murmur, or be angry and demanding. - Visual. Someone might see lights, objects, people, or patterns. Often it’s loved ones or friends who are no longer alive. They may also have trouble with depth perception and distance. - Olfactory and gustatory. This can include good and bad smells and tastes. Someone might believe they’re being poisoned and refuse to eat. - Tactile. This creates a feeling of things moving on your body, like hands or insects.

  • Delusions. These are beliefs that seem strange to most people and are easy to prove wrong. The person affected might think someone is trying to control their brain through TVs or that the FBI is out to get them. They might believe they're someone else, like a famous actor or the president, or that they have superpowers. Types of delusions include: - Persecutory delusions. The feeling someone is after you or that you’re being stalked, hunted, framed, or tricked. - Referential delusions. When a person believes that public forms of communication, like song lyrics or a gesture from a TV host, are a special message just for them. - Somatic delusions. These center on the body. The person thinks they have a terrible illness or bizarre health problem like worms under the skin or damage from cosmic rays. - Erotomanic delusions. A person might be convinced a celebrity is in love with them or that their partner is cheating. Or they might think people they’re not attracted to are pursuing them. - Religious delusions. Someone might think they have a special relationship with a deity or that they’re possessed by a demon. - Grandiose delusions. They consider themselves a major figure on the world stage, like an entertainer or a politician.

  • Confused thoughts and disorganized speech. People with schizophrenia can have a hard time organizing their thoughts. They might not be able to follow along when you talk to them. Instead, it might seem like they're zoning out or distracted. When they talk, their words can come out jumbled and not make sense.

  • Trouble concentrating. For example, someone might lose track of what's going on in a TV show as they're watching.

  • Movement disorders. Some people with schizophrenia can seem jumpy. Sometimes they'll make the same movements over and over again. But sometimes they might be perfectly still for hours at a stretch, which experts call being catatonic. Contrary to popular belief, people with the disease usually aren't violent.


Negative Symptoms of Schizophrenia: Things That Might Stop Happening

Negative symptoms refer to an absence or lack of normal mental function involving thinking, behavior, and perception. You might notice:

  • Lack of pleasure. The person may not seem to enjoy anything anymore. A doctor will call this anhedonia.

  • Trouble with speech. They might not talk much or show any feelings. Doctors call this alogia.

  • Flattening: The person with schizophrenia might seem like they have a terrible case of the blahs. When they talk, their voice can sound flat, like they have no emotions. They may not smile normally or show usual facial emotions in response to conversations or things happening around them. A doctor might call this affective flattening.

  • Withdrawal. This might include no longer making plans with friends or becoming a hermit.

  • Struggling with the basics of daily life. They may stop bathing or taking care of themselves.

  • No follow-through. People with schizophrenia have trouble staying on schedule or finishing what they start. Sometimes they can't get started at all. A doctor might call this avolition.



Treatment consists of medications and therapy

Treatment is usually lifelong and often involves a combination of medications, psychotherapy and coordinated speciality care services.

Medications

Antipsychotic and Anti-Tremor

Therapies

Support group, Rehabilitation, Cognitive therapy, Psychoeducation, Family therapy, Behaviour therapy and Group psychotherapy