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Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia

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Published by Ghielyn Baligod

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Published by: Ghielyn Baligod on Jul 11, 2011
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Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that makes it difficult to tell the difference between realand unreal experiences, to think logically, to have normal emotional responses, and to behavenormally in social situations.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Schizophrenia is a complex illness. Even experts in the field are not sure what causes it.Genetic factors appear to play a role. People who have family members with schizophreniamay be more likely to get the illness themselves.Some researchers believe that environmental events may trigger schizophrenia in people whoare already genetically at risk for the disorder. For example, infection during development inthe mother's womb or stressful psychological experiences may increase the risk for developing schizophrenia later in life. Social and family support appears to improve theillness.Schizophrenia affects about 1% of people worldwide. It occurs equally among men andwomen, but in women it tends to begin later and be milder. For this reason, males tend toaccount for more than half of patients in services with high numbers of young adults.Although schizophrenia usually begins in young adulthood, there are cases in which thedisorder begins later (over age 45).Childhood-onset schizophrenia begins after age 5 and, in most cases, after normaldevelopment. Childhood schizophrenia is rare and can be difficult to tell apart from other developmental disorders of childhood, such asautism.
Symptoms
Schizophrenia may have a variety of symptoms. Usually the illness develops slowly over months or years. Like other chronic illnesses, schizophrenia cycles between periods of fewer symptoms and periods of more symptoms.At first, you may feel tense, or have trouble sleeping or concentrating. You can becomeisolated and withdrawn, and have trouble making or keeping friends.As the illness continues, psychoticsymptoms develop:
y
 
Appearance or mood that shows no emotion (flat affect)
y
 
B
izarre movements that show less of a reaction to the environment (catatonic behavior)
y
 
False beliefs or thoughts that are not based in reality (delusions)
 
y
 
H
earing, seeing, or feeling things that are not there (hallucinations)Problems with thinking often occur:
y
 
Problems paying attention
y
 
T
houghts "jump" between unrelated topics (disordered thinking)Symptoms can be different depending on the type of schizophrenia:
y
 
Paranoid types often feel anxious, are more often angry or argumentative, andfalsely believe that others are trying to harm them or their loved ones.
y
 
D
isorganized types have problems thinking and expressing their ideas clearly, oftenexhibit childlike behavior, and frequently show little emotion.
y
 
Catatonic types may be in a constant state of unrest, or they may not move or beunderactive.
T
heir muscles and posture may be rigid.
T
hey may grimace or haveother odd facial expressions, and they may be less responsive to others.
y
 
Undifferentiated types may have symptoms of more than one other type of schizophrenia.
y
 
esidual types experience some symptoms, but not as many as those who are in afull-blown episode of schizophrenia.People with any type of schizophrenia may have difficulty keeping friends and working.
T
hey may also have problems with anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts or behaviors.
Signs and tests
A psychiatrist should perform an evaluation to make the diagnosis.
T
he diagnosis is made based on a thorough interview of the person and family members. No medical tests for schizophrenia exist.
T
he following factors may suggest a schizophreniadiagnosis, but do not confirm it:
y
 
Course of illness and how long symptoms have lasted
y
 
Changes from level of function before illness
y
 
D
evelopmental background
y
 
Genetic and family history
y
 
esponse to medication
 
C
T
scansof the head and other imaging techniques may find some changes that occur withschizophrenia and may rule out other disorders.
T
reatment
D
uring an episode of schizophrenia, you may need to stay in the hospital for safety reasons,and to receive basic needs such as food, rest, and hygiene.ME
D
ICA
T
IONSAntipsychotic medications are the most effective treatment for schizophrenia.
T
hey changethe balance of chemicals in the brain and can help control the symptoms of the illness.
T
hese medications are helpful, but they can have side effects.
H
owever, many of these sideeffects can be addressed, and should not prevent people from seeking treatment for thisserious condition.Common side effects from antipsychotics may include:
y
 
Sleepiness (sedation) or dizziness
y
 
W
eight gain and increased chance of diabetes and high cholesterolLess common side effects include:
y
 
Feelings of restlessness or "jitters"
y
 
Problems of movement and gait
y
 
Muscle contractions or spasms
y
 
T
remor Long-term risks of antipsychotic medications include a movement disorder called tardivedyskinesia. In this condition, people develop movements that they cannot control, especiallyaround the mouth. Anyone who believes they are having this problem should check withtheir doctor right away.For people who try and do not improve with several antipsychotics, themedicationclozapinecan be helpful.Clozapineis the most effective medication for reducing schizophrenia symptoms, but it also tends to cause more side effects than other antipsychotics.
B
ecause schizophrenia is a chronic illness, most people with this condition need to stay onantipsychotic medication for life.SUPPO
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AMS AN
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