This is just an infomative post I do not have Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is a challenging disorder that makes it difficult to distinguish between what is real and unreal, think clearly, manage emotions, relate to others, and function normally. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t hope. Schizophrenia can be successfully managed. The first step is to identify the signs and symptoms. The second step is to seek help without delay and the third is to stick with the treatment. With the right treatment and support, a person with schizophrenia can lead a happy, fulfilling life.
WHat is schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia is a brain disorder that affects the way a person acts, thinks, and sees the world. People with schizophrenia have an altered perception of reality, often a significant loss of contact with reality. They may see or hear things that don’t exist, speak in strange or confusing ways, believe that others are trying to harm them, or feel like they’re being constantly watched. With such a blurred line between the real and the imaginary, schizophrenia makes it difficult—even frightening—to negotiate the activities of daily life. In response, people with schizophrenia may withdraw from the outside world or act out in confusion and fear.
Most cases of schizophrenia appear in the late teens or early adulthood. However, schizophrenia can appear for the first time in middle age or even later. In rare cases, schizophrenia can even affect young children and adolescents, although the symptoms are slightly different. In general, the earlier schizophrenia develops, the more severe it is. Schizophrenia also tends to be more severe in men than in women.
Although schizophrenia is a chronic disorder, there is help available. With support, medication, and therapy, many people with schizophrenia are able to function independently and live satisfying lives. However, the outlook is best when schizophrenia is diagnosed and treated right away. If you spot the signs and symptoms of schizophrenia and seek help without delay, you or your loved one can take advantage of the many treatments available and improve the chances of recovery.
Early warning signs of schizophrenia
In some people, schizophrenia appears suddenly and without warning. But for most, it comes on slowly, with subtle warning signs and a gradual decline in functioning long before the first severe episode. Many friends and family members of people with schizophrenia report knowing early on that something was wrong with their loved one, they just didn’t know what.
In this early phase, people with schizophrenia often seem eccentric, unmotivated, emotionless, and reclusive. They isolate themselves, start neglecting their appearance, say peculiar things, and show a general indifference to life. They may abandon hobbies and activities, and their performance at work or school deteriorates.
The most common early warning signs of schizophrenia include:
- Social withdrawal
- Hostility or suspiciousness
- Deterioration of personal hygiene
- Flat, expressionless gaze
- Inability to cry or express joy
- Inappropriate laughter or crying
- Oversleeping or insomnia
- Odd or irrational statements
- Forgetful; unable to concentrate
- Extreme reaction to criticism
- Strange use of words or way of speaking
While these warning signs can result from a number of problems—not just schizophrenia—they are cause for concern. When out-of-the-ordinary behavior is causing problems in your life or the life of a loved one, seek medical advice. If schizophrenia or another mental problem is the cause, treatment will help.
Effects of schizophrenia
When the signs and symptoms of schizophrenia are ignored or improperly treated, the effects can be devastating both to the individual with the disorder and those around him or her. Some of the possible effects of schizophrenia are:
- Relationship problems. Relationships suffer because people with schizophrenia often withdraw and isolate themselves. Paranoia can also cause a person with schizophrenia to be suspicious of friends and family.
- Disruption to normal daily activities. Schizophrenia causes significant disruptions to daily functioning, both because of social difficulties and because everyday tasks become hard, if not impossible to do. A schizophrenic person’s delusions, hallucinations, and disorganized thoughts typically prevent him or her from doing normal things like bathing, eating, or running errands.
- Alcohol and drug abuse. People with schizophrenia frequently develop problems with alcohol or drugs, which are often used in an attempt to self-medicate, or relieve symptoms. In addition, they may also be heavy smokers, a complicating situation as cigarette smoke can interfere with the effectiveness of medications prescribed for the disorder.
- Increased suicide risk. People with schizophrenia have a high risk of attempting suicide. Any suicidal talk, threats, or gestures should be taken very seriously. People with schizophrenia are especially likely to commit suicide during psychotic episodes, during periods of depression, and in the first six months after they’ve started treatment.
A diagnosis of schizophrenia is made based on a full psychiatric evaluation, medical history, physical exam, and lab tests.
- Psychiatric evaluation – The doctor or psychiatrist will ask a series of questions about you or your loved one’s symptoms, psychiatric history, and family history of mental health problems.
- Medical history and exam – Your doctor will ask about your personal and family health history. He or she will also perform a complete physical examination to check for medical issues that could be causing or contributing to the problem.
- Laboratory tests – While there are no laboratory tests that can diagnose schizophrenia, simple blood and urine tests can rule out other medical causes of symptoms. The doctor may also order brain-imaging studies, such as an MRI or a CT scan, in order to look for brain abnormalities associated with schizophrenia.
Mental health professionals use the following criteria to diagnose schizophrenia:
- The presence of two or more of the following symptoms for at least 30 days:
- Disorganized speech
- Disorganized or catatonic behavior
- Negative symptoms (emotional flatness, apathy, lack of speech)
- Significant problems functioning at work or school, relating to other people, and taking care of oneself.
- Continuous signs of schizophrenia for at least 6 months, with active symptoms (hallucinations, delusions, etc.) for at least 1 month.
- No other mental health disorder, medical issue, or substance abuse problem is causing the symptoms.
Conditions that can look like schizophrenia
The medical and psychological conditions the doctor must rule out before diagnosing schizophrenia include:
- Other psychotic disorders – Schizophrenia is a type of psychotic disorder, meaning it involves a significant loss of contact with reality. But there are other psychotic disorders that cause similar symptoms of psychosis, including schizoaffective disorder, schizophreniform disorder, and brief psychotic disorder. Because of the difficulty in differentiating between the psychotic disorders, it may take six months or longer to arrive at a correct diagnosis.
- Substance abuse – Psychotic symptoms can be triggered by many drugs, including alcohol, PCP, heroin, amphetamines, and cocaine. Some over-the-counter and prescription drugs can also trigger psychotic reactions. A toxicology screen can rule out drug-induced psychosis. If substance abuse is involved, the physician will determine whether the drug is the source of the symptoms or merely an aggravating factor.
- Medical conditions – Schizophrenia-like symptoms can also result from certain neurological disorders (such as epilepsy, brain tumors, and encephalitis), endocrine and metabolic disturbances, and autoimmune conditions involving the central nervous system.
- Mood disorders – Schizophrenia often involves changes in mood, including mania and depression. While these mood changes are typically less severe than those seen in bipolar disorder and major depressive disorder, they can make diagnosis tricky. Schizophrenia is particularly difficult to distinguish from bipolar disorder. The positive symptoms of schizophrenia (delusions, hallucinations, and disorganized speech) can look like a manic episode of bipolar disorder, while the negative symptoms of schizophrenia (apathy, social withdrawal, and low energy) can look like a depressive episode.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – PTSD is an anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to a traumatic event, such as military combat, an accident, or a violent assault. People with PTSD experience symptoms that are similar to schizophrenia. The images, sounds, and smells of PTSD flashbacks can look like psychotic hallucinations. The PTSD symptoms of emotional numbness and avoidance can look like the negative symptoms of schizophrenia.
Hope for schizophrenia
Treatment options for schizophrenia are good, and the outlook for the disorder continues to improve. With medication, therapy, and a strong support network, many people with schizophrenia are able to control their symptoms, gain greater independence, and lead fulfilling lives.
If you think that someone close to you has schizophrenia, you can make a difference by showing your love and support and helping that person get properly evaluated and treated.