Schizophrenia is a rather serious mental disorder where sufferers interpret reality differently. This mental disorder has a combination of delusions, hallucinations, erratic thinking and behaviour that severely affects daily living activities.
While early intervention and treatment may control the symptoms progressing further, this mental disorder requires lifelong treatment.
Signs & Symptoms to look out for
Schizophrenia is a cognitive (thinking) disorder as it is related to a host of thinking and behavioural patterns, of which we would like to highlight the main symptoms. Signs and symptoms vary in individuals, but the general giveaway sign involves delusions.
A delusion can be described as a false belief, and delusions are commonly noticeable with schizophrenics.
An example of being delusional would be a feeling that another person is in love with you, or a disaster or harassment awaits you, another person has passed comments about you.
This symptom normally involves seeing or hearing things that don’t exist. However, for a schizophrenic, they feel the impact of such instances as these symptoms are real for them.
- Disorganized speech
As thinking is impaired, many schizophrenics have disorganized speech. Their answers to simple questions can be totally unrelated. Some suffer from “word salad” where meaningless words are said. Speech is normally in a monotone voice.
- Abnormal motor behaviour
Schizophrenics display abnormal behaviour ranging from being childish to extreme agitation, which affects daily tasks or even going outside. Look out for signs like resisting instructions, bizarre posture, and a lack of response or excessive movement.
- Negative function ability
A schizophrenic may display symptoms of neglect in personal hygiene, lack of eye contact or facial expression. He or she may also withdraw socially and display an increasing lack of interest in daily activities.
Schizophrenia symptoms start to show in men in their mid-20s, and in women in their late-20s.
Teenagers can also be affected, but early symptoms are difficult to diagnose as they are also common for in teenage development. Schizophrenic teenagers also display symptoms common to normal teenagers such as:
- sleep disorders
- lack of motivation
- irritability or depression
- drop in academic performance
- withdrawal from family and friends
Research has found teenagers are less likely to have delusions and more likely to have hallucinations. However, the hallucinations could also be due to experimental usage of drugs.
Left untreated, schizophrenia in adults and teenagers can progress further and can be associated to the following complications:
- anxiety disorders (OCD)
- alcohol, nicotine or substance abuse which lead to other health problems
- aggressive behaviour
- depression which may progress to suicidal thoughts and attempts
- social isolation
Treatment for schizophrenia
There is no known way to prevent or cure schizophrenia. So far, sticking to only a proper long-term treatment plan can help relapses or worsening of symptoms. Therefore, early intervention and diagnosis is crucial to control symptoms and progression of the disorder.
In the early 1960s, lobotomy, also referred to a leucotomy, was a legitimate treatment for schizophrenia. Lobotomy was a neurosurgical procedure performed on the brains of schizophrenics, where connections in the brain’s prefrontal lobe were severed. Lobotomies were based on the theory that if these brain connections were damaged, the bad behaviours would be stopped.
However, lobotomies had very low success rates and in many cases, the procedures worsened a schizophrenic’s overall condition, sometimes even leaving them in a vegetative state.
With advancement in developing antipsychotic and antidepressant medications which are far more effective and widely used in treating mental illnesses nowadays, lobotomies became almost redundant or the last alternative for schizophrenics.
Adult schizophrenics who do not respond to medications may consider electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), which may also be useful for those suffering from depression.
We hope this article on schizophrenia has been informative to our readers, and the importance of seeking medical advice as early as possible. Please note that the contents should in no way be used as medical advice.
We wish to highlight once again that it is important to seek proper medical advice for schizophrenia, get correct diagnosis and early medical treatment. Doctors will first conduct a physical examination and screening tests, after which the patient will be referred to a psychiatrist for evaluation, final diagnosis and treatment plans.
1st August 19:30 2020