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Schizophrenia is a brain disorder that has affected people throughout our history for many-many years. Schizophrenia is a severe, chronic and disabling disorder of the brain and around one percent of Americans are affected with this illness.
Some people suffering from Schizophrenia hear voices that only they hear, others don't. When a person has this brain disorder they think others can read their minds or that other people can control their thoughts. They often feel people are plotting against them with the intentions of harming them. They can become agitated very easily.
To look at a person that suffers from Schizophrenia you would never know it unless you listened to them talk and what they have to say. Talk to them about what they're thinking and you will see the signs associated with Schizophrenia. They tend to sit for hours at a time not talking or even moving. Most people with Schizophrenia can't hold down a job and need help from others and some can't even take care of themselves.
Men and women are equally affected from Schizophrenia and in all ethnic groups throughout the world. Symptoms show up earlier in men than in women. Schizophrenia very seldom occurs in children but the awareness of childhood-onset Schizophrenia seems to be increasing. After the age of 45 people rarely get Schizophrenia.
There are 3 categories the symptoms of Schizophrenia fall into, positive symptoms, negative symptoms and cognitive symptoms.
These symptoms are described as psychotic behaviors that a normal healthy person doesn't display. A person with positive symptoms tends to lose touch with reality ranging from severe to un-noticeable and the symptoms come and go. If the individual is receiving treatment symptoms will be more un-noticeable and less severe. These symptoms are hallucinations, delusions, thought disorders, and movement disorders.
With hallucinations the person with Schizophrenia sees and hears things that no one else seems to experience. They even smell things that others don't and can feel sensations of being touched when no one is really there. Delusions are usually bizarre for example they may believe their computer at home is sending waves and signals that are controlling them. With thought disorders they may have a hard time organizing their thoughts, stop talking in mid-sentence, or make up meaningless words. Their way of thinking is very dysfunctional and unusual. Movement disorders reflect their body movements and they may repeat or duplicate certain movements over and over again.
These symptoms are hard to recognize, it's where normal emotions and behaviors are disrupted. These symptoms include; Flat affect is when a person's face doesn't move or they talk in a dull monotonous voice. They lack pleasure in their life. They're unable to start and continue with activities that are planned. Even if they're forced to interact with others they will hardly speak to anyone. People with the negative symptoms need help taking care of them self and their needs. They don't take care of their personal hygiene and they're looked upon as lazy but they really aren't. These are just symptoms that are caused from Schizophrenia.
These symptoms can also be hard to detect. Many times these symptoms are only detected through tests. These symptoms make it almost impossible for a person to earn a living and live a normal life. These symptoms include:
- The in-ability to understand information and then make decisions based upon the information
- Paying attention and staying focused are troublesome
- They're unable to use information immediately after just learning something
Schizophrenia and Substance Abuse
Sometimes people with Schizophrenia have the same symptoms of someone using drugs and a person could be mistaken for a substance abuser but really suffer from Schizophrenia. Compared to the general public, it seems that individuals suffering from Schizophrenia are much more likely to have a substance abuse or alcohol problem. Researchers don't think that abusing substances causes Schizophrenia.
Treating Schizophrenia is not nearly as effective if the person uses drugs or alcohol. Drugs like stimulants for example, cocaine or amphetamines and marijuana can actually make Schizophrenia symptoms worse. Tobacco is the most common substance abused in people with Schizophrenia.
Treatment for Schizophrenia
No one really knows what causes Schizophrenia so treatment has to focus on eliminating the symptoms. Treatments include:
- Anti-psychotic medications
- Chlorpromazine which is Thorazine
- Haloperidol which is Haldol
- Perphenazine which is Etrafon and Trilafon
- Fluphenazine which is Prolixin
- Risperidone which is Risperdal
- Olanzapine which is Zyprexa
- Quetiapine which is Seroquel
- Ziprasidone which is Geodon
- Aripiprazole which is Abilify
- Paliperidone which is Invega
- Various kinds of psychosocial treatments regularly
- Illness management skills
- Integrated treatment for co-occurring substance abuse
- Family education
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Self-help groups
Research is being done all the time learning more and more about schizophrenia in order to develop better treatments for the person living with this disorder. There is no cure for schizophrenia but with the right diagnosis, medication and treatment a person with this illness can improve and become more independent and lead a satisfying life.