• What is schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a chronic brain disorder occurring in around 1 percent of people during their lifetime. Although it affects both men and women, schizophrenia usually appears earlier in men than woman. The symptoms of schizophrenia can cause those who suffer from it to become isolated and withdrawn from society. It is very difficult to fully recover from this disorder.

  • Why does it matter?

Being educated about schizophrenia is important because schizophrenia is an uncommon disorder that not very many people know much about. We attend class every day with students that have mental disorders Most of the time we are unaware of which students do and not struggle with a mental disorder, and I believe that if college age students were more educated about them, it would help them relate to one another and to prevent judgement. Schizophrenia is also believed to affect people around the college age, and I believe that it is important to be educated so you will know if you are affected by this disorder.
  • Signs and Symptoms

Hallucinations (can be visual, auditory, sensory, tactile, olfactory, and gustatory)- Seeing or hearing things that do not exist; hallucinations can occur in any of the five senses.
Delusions- beliefs that are not based on reality that usually happen due to misinterpretation of an experience.
Distorted perceptions of reality
Thought disorder- having a difficult time speaking and keeping thoughts organized. Usually causes speech to start and stop and the use of meaningless words.
Lack of motivation, neglect of personal hygiene, withdrawal from society, loss of interest in daily activities, difficulty sleeping, irritability, suicidal thoughts.
Those who suffer from schizophrenia are also at a higher risk of becoming victims of violence.

This is a video that shows what a schizophrenic episode is like, but not all schizophrenics experience these exact symptoms.

  • Diagnosis

There is not currently a test that is used to diagnose schizophrenia. Doctors tend to diagnose schizophrenia by observing the symptoms, which can be hard to do because patients usually do not speak up about their symptoms out of fear. If schizophrenic symptoms have occurred for at least six months and are not being caused by another illness or drugs, that is when doctors will take measures to begin treatment. Some of the symptoms are present in other disorders or through drug use, so it can be difficult to determine what is actually wrong with the patient. Checking the patient's family history is also important due to the possibility of schizophrenic genes being passed down.

  • What causes schizophrenia?

Scientists have proved that schizophrenia is a genetic disorder. It occurs in 10% of people who have a first degree relative suffering from schizophrenia, and is even more likely to form in both identical twins in a set. If one twin has schizophrenia, there is a 40-65% chance of the other twin developing it as well. Although it is widely genetic, schizophrenia is also believed to be triggered by environmental factors. A person may have inherited the schizophrenic gene but not yet shown any symptoms until a certain event triggers them. This tends to happen in children and teens because their brains are very sensitive to stress, which can easily cause problems. Stressful events such as losing a job or being sexual abused can trigger the onset of schizophrenia to those who are most sensitive to it.
Identical Twins- One schizophrenic and one unaffected
Identical Twins- One schizophrenic and one unaffected

This comparison between two adult identical twins shows that the schizophrenic twin has much larger ventricles than the well twin.

  • Prevention

There is no sure way to prevent the onset of schizophrenia. It is widely believed that environmental factors trigger the genes of schizophrenia and that you way carry the genes and show no symptoms. Pregnant mothers should take special care of themselves in order to ensure the best health for their baby, and avoid neglect during the early stages of child development. Prenatal and early childhood are the most sensitive times in a person's life and severe problems can occur when exposed to traumatic experiences.
  • Treatment

Antipsychotic drugs can be used as a treatment option, however they can cause very risky side effects so patients can be reluctant to taking them. It can take several weeks for the medicine to start showing signs of improvement as well. Therapy and support from family can be a very helpful way for schizophrenics to manage their disorder and live a normal life. There are several support groups and counselors that are available to give assistance to those who need it. Having the family of the patient is extremely important so they will learn and understand what the patient is going through on a daily basis. This can prevent the patient from feeling isolated and depressed, and they will be less likely to withdrawal from those around them.

  • Helping those who suffer from schizophrenia

If someone you know is suffering from schizophrenia you should try the best you can to be understanding, especially during tough times. Support is the best thing you can provide. Being educated about schizophrenia is very important in order for you to be understanding. If the person you know is going to attend meetings or educational classes, you should attend as well. Having a support system will help the patient feel like they are not alone when times are difficult for them.

  • Testing your knowledge

If you would like to learn more about schizophrenia and test what you have learned, watch a movie that depicts a character with schizophrenia and decide for yourself if the behavior of the actor is accurate. Some examples of movies about schizophrenia include:
Shutter Island
A Beautiful Mind
Me, Myself, & Irene
Mr. Brooks




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