Schizophrenia


Merrium-Webster Dictionary defines schizophrenia as "a psychotic disorder characterized by loss of contact with the environment, by noticeable deterioration in the level of functioning in everyday life, and by disintegration of personality expressed as disorder of feeling, thought (as delusions), perception (as hallucinations), and behavior". To break that down, schizophrenia is a mental disorder where the person loses sense of what is real and imaginary.

Symptoms


There are many symptoms of schizophrenia.
  • Hallucinations Hallucinations are when a person hears, sees, smells, or feels things no one else can. The most common one in schizophrenia is people tend to hear things. Schizophrenics often hear "voices" of someone talking to them. These "voices" will go unnoticed by other people for awhile. The other hallucinations can occur too. Sometimes the schizophrenic will feel someone touching them when there is no one around him/her. He/she may also see someone that no one else can see.
  • Delusions Delusions are false beliefs a schizophrenic believes in even after being contradicted with facts. An example is thinking dogs can control what he/she thinks or does. Also, people with schizophrenia tend to have delusions of persecution. Delusions of persecution are delusions that cause the person to think someone or something are out to harm him/her and/or his/her family. These delusions can be considered paranoia.
  • Thought Disorders A person with schizophrenia may have difficulty organizing his/her thoughts. A schizophrenic may also stop in the middle of sentence and say someone stole his/her thought right out of his/her head. A person may also speak gibberish. He/she may speak nonsense words or sentences.
  • Movement Disorders Schizophrenic's movements may become choppy. The person may also repeat actions over and over. When a schizophrenic goes without treatment, he/she may go into a catatonic state. Catatonia is when the person stops moving altogether. He/she will also stop responding to anyone.
  • "Flat Affect" A person with flat affect has no facial expressions. His/her voice may become monotonous.
  • Loss of Pleasure A person with schizophrenia may stop enjoying things in life.
  • Low Attention Span A schizophrenic have a hard time maintaining focus.
Symptoms for schizophrenia hardly occur in young children or a 45 year old person. Symptoms usually emerge between the ages 16 and 30. They tend to occur earlier in men, but men and women are equally at risk.
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Causes


Researches do not know the exact cause of schizophrenia. Genetics seem to play a role, however. Chemicals in the brain may be out of balance. The structure of the brain seems to be different too, as shown in this picture below.
external image webmd_rf_photo_of_mri_brain_scans.jpg
Brain activity is different in schizophrenics too.



Diagnosis

Since there is no specific cause of schizophrenia, a "diagnostic checklist" is used. The check list is:
  • You have at least two of the following symptoms: delusions, hallucinations, disordered thoughts or behaviour or the presence of negative symptoms, such as a flattening of emotions.
  • Your symptoms have had a significant impact on your ability to work, study or perform daily tasks.
  • You have experienced symptoms for more than six months.
  • All other possible causes, such as recreational drug use or depression, have been ruled out.
It is important doctors rule out all other possibilities because someone who appears to have schizophrenia may have a different kind of mental illness.

Treatment


There is no cure for schizophrenia; but like most mental illnesses, schizophrenia can be managed. There are medications, therapy, electroconvulsion therapy (ECT). A doctor may prescribe one of these or multiple.

Sources

Schizophrenia." Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 3 Dec. 2013.

__http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/schizophrenia/index.shtml__
__http://www.webmd.com/schizophrenia/ss/slideshow-schizophrenia-overview__
__http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Schizophrenia/Pages/Diagnosis.aspx__

http://www.webmd.com/schizophrenia/guide/schizophrenia-treatment-care