Schizophrenia is a mental disorder with symptoms that affect thoughts and emotions. These symptoms can be quite disabling and can interfere with your ability to function in everyday life. It is commonly thought of as split or multiple personalities, but this is inaccurate. The name schizophrenia comes from the Greek word meaning “split” (schizo) and “mind” (phren). Schizophrenia means split mind.
Symptoms of Schizophrenia
The symptoms of schizophrenia often appear gradually, sometimes beginning as early as adolescence or young adulthood, but sometimes not appearing until middle age or later. Sometimes they appear after a triggering event such as drug abuse, severe stress, etc. Usually, symptoms come and go and become less intense over time – however, whether this will happen is unpredictable! It is possible for some people with schizophrenia to completely recover, but most people have some ongoing symptoms.
Schizophrenia affects about 1% of the population, making it one of the most common serious mental illnesses. It occurs in men and women equally, and all ethnic groups are affected.
Types of Symptoms
There are five main types of symptoms: positive, negative, disorganised, cognitive, and emotional.
Positive symptoms are abnormal experiences that can include delusions (false beliefs), hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren’t there), and thought disorder (where thoughts are not organised).
Negative symptoms are problems with emotions and behaviours which can include blunted or lack of emotions, apathy (not caring about anything), and social withdrawal.
Disorganised symptoms are problems with how a person thinks, speaks, and behaves. This can include incoherent speech, bizarre behaviour, and child-like silliness.
Cognitive symptoms are problems with memory, attention span, and thinking skills.
Emotional symptoms are problems with moods which can include feeling flat (not having any feelings), feeling intense emotions such as rage or paranoia, and feeling suicidal or wanting to harm oneself.
Cause and Treatment Option for Schizophrenia
It is likely that there is more than one cause, and that it is caused by a combination of genetics, environment, and other factors. Schizophrenia does not have a single clear-cut like a fever or headache, so it varies from person to person. Because of the variety and variability of schizophrenia, it is difficult for researchers to study.
There is no cure for schizophrenia and there is no single medication that works best for all people with this illness. The types of treatment given usually depend on how severe your symptoms are and whether you also have other problems such as depression, anxiety or drug use. Common types of treatment include medications (psychotropic or neuroleptic), family education and therapy, social skills training (employment programs, community living services), vocational rehabilitation, supported employment and self-help groups. Treatments tend to work better when they address more than one problem at a time – like social withdrawal and drug abuse together. Some people with schizophrenia may require long-term hospitalisation when symptoms are severe.
Treatment is much more effective if you receive it early, before symptoms become difficult to treat and when the family is supportive. If you do not receive treatment for schizophrenia, your symptoms may get worse over time.
Schizophrenia can be a very disabling illness, but recovery is possible in many cases by using treatments that work together optimally. Important things to remember are that there are effective treatments available, recovery does happen, even though it takes time and effort, people with schizophrenia have problems that need attention just like other illnesses such as diabetes or heart trouble, and there are things that can be done about these problems once they are identified. Getting professional help will give you the best chance of coping effectively and living a fulfilling life.