• 24Feb

    Facts about schizophrenia – did you know that?

    Schizophrenia means ‘split mind’. It is a psychiatric condition which affects the ability to learn and understand (cognition), emotions, perception and other aspects of behavior. It usually starts before the age of 25 years and impacts people in all social strata. The gender prevalence is equal though the onset is observed earlier in men. Statistics show that for each 100,000 people 270 will be affected by this condition. Because of this fact, it’s crucial to be aware of basic facts about this mental disease.

    Genetic factors play an important role in the development of schizophrenia. Scientific studies have found that there is an increased activity of dopamine in the brain of schizophrenic patient. Other chemicals or neurotransmitters in brain which have been proposed to play a role are serotonin, norepinephrine, GABA, neuropeptides, glutamate, acetylcholine and nicotine.


    Features of schizophrenia

    • Delusions – a delusion is a false belief or opinion. There are two major types of delusions. Delusion of persecution is characterized by a false belief that one is being attacked, harassed or conspired against. Delusion of grandeur manifests as a false belief of patient’s own importance, power or knowledge – one may feel that he has a special relationship with god or a famous person.
    • Hallucinations – hallucinations involving any of the five senses may occur, though auditory or hearing related hallucinations are the most frequent. Schizophrenic patients hear voices commenting on their thoughts or behavior. The voices may be threatening, obscene, accusatory or insulting. Visual hallucinations are also commonly found. Touch, smell and taste related hallucinations are unusual – their presence should prompt the clinician to consider the possibility of a neurological disorder which should be ruled out. Some of the patients develop cenesthetic hallucinations characterized by sensations of altered states in bodily organs, these include a burning sensation in the brain or a cutting sensation in the bones.
    • Disorganized speech – incoherent speech.
    • Schizophrenic patients have poor interpersonal relations and self-care.

      Schizophrenic patients have poor interpersonal relations and self-care.

      Disorganized or catatonic behavior – patients assume abnormal postures and may become violent.

    • Negative symptoms – affected patients have flattening of emotional expression, decline of speech and motivation.
    • Social or occupational dysfunction – schizophrenic patients have poor interpersonal relations and self-care. Failure to achieve expected level of academic or occupational standard is seen.

    Types of schizophrenia

    Depending on the presence of certain features, schizophrenia can divided into many types:

    Paranoid type:  individuals with this type of schizophrenia are preoccupied with delusions or auditory hallucinations. Other features listed above are not prominent in these patients. Classically, they have delusions of persecution or grandeur. These patients appear tense, suspicious, introvert and aggressive. Sometimes they can conduct themselves appropriately in social situations. Their intelligence usually remains intact.

    Disorganized type: the onset is usually early, during second or early third decade. These patients have disorganized speech, disorganized behavior and inappropriate affect. They remain active but aimless. They have a poor appreciation of the reality. Their social behavior and emotional responses are inappropriate e.g. they may burst into laughter with no apparent reason. Inappropriate grinning and grimacing is commonly seen in these patients.

    Catatonic type: they assume abnormal postures or have purposeless excessive movements, have resistance to all instructions, remain mute, exhibit mannerisms or grimacing. They may also exhibit automatic repetition of words or actions of another person. These patients may hurt themselves or others during excitement and need protection. They are at a risk of developing malnutrition, exhaustion and high fever.

    Undifferentiated type: this is a mixture of features which does not fit into any of the above three types.

    Residual type: this type is observed in patients with mild symptoms.

    Prognosis

    Prognosis in case of schizophrenia depends on many factors. A good prognosis is indicated in cases with late onset associated with precipitating factors. Married people with family support have better chances of improvement. Patients with good social and work history are more likely to recover. On the contrary, young individuals with gradual onset, poor social and work history have bad prognosis. These people are withdrawn, have autistic behavior and are single with no social support system. Single, divorced or widowed schizophrenics with family history of this disease show poor results with treatment.

    Schizophrenia is a syndrome of various manifestations. Many of these symptoms are seen in other psychiatric disorders. There is diagnostic or confirmatory test for schizophrenia. Diagnosis of this disorder is usually based on patient’s history and mental status examination.

    Anna L.

    It’s all about health!
    I have academic background in drugs related Chemical Technology, as well as extensive professional experience in pharma and medical companies. My main area of interest is everyday life medicine. The goal of my articles is to give people informative answers to the questions that bother them, to dispel doubts and some common misbeliefs and also to inspire everyone to keep healthy lifestyle.

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