Introduction to Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is considered as one of the most complex illnesses. It is a chronic, severe, and disabling mental disorder characterized by impairments in a patient’s perception or expression of reality. These are commonly manifested as hallucinations, paranoid or bizarre delusions, or disorganized speech and thinking. Schizophrenia affects about 0.4 to 0.6 percent of the world’s population.

What causes schizophrenia?

It is still unknown what causes schizophrenia, but mental health experts believe that genetic appear to play a key role. A patient with a history of the disease may be more likely inherited from his immediate relatives.

Other researchers suggest that events in a person’s environment may also trigger schizophrenia, such as problems during the development in the mother’s womb and at birth. Psychological and social factors, including the amount of family support, may also affect its development.

Who are commonly affected with schizophrenia?

The disease can occur in both men and women, although women may experience the symptoms in later years. Because of this, more than half of the world’s schizophrenics are male, most of them are young adults. Schizophrenia usually begins between young adulthood to age 45, with symptoms lasting for at least six months. It is also during this time when a schizophrenic begins to lose his ability to socialize and work.

There are also reported cases of childhood schizophrenia, which begins after the age of five. Because such cases are extremely rare, it is difficult to tell apart from other developmental disorders of childhood such as autism.

How does schizophrenia affect a person’s behavior?

People with schizophrenia may hear voices other people do not hear. They may also believe that others are reading their minds, controlling their thoughts, or plotting to harm them. These experiences are terrifying and can cause withdrawal or extreme agitation.

Schizophrenics may not make sense when they talk, may sit for hours without moving or talking, or may seem perfectly find until they talk about what they are really thinking. Because they have difficulty holding a job or caring for themselves, the burden on their families and society is significant as well

How can a patient be diagnosed as schizophrenic?

There are currently no laboratory test that would determine the onset of schizophrenia in a patient. Instead, diagnosis is based on the patient’s self-reported experiences and observed behavior.

How is schizophrenia treated?

Although there are available treatments that could relieve many of the symptoms of schizophrenia, most people with the disease must cope with some returning symptoms as long as they live. However, that does not mean schizophrenics cannot have a rewarding and meaningful life.