What is schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia is a group of diseases that interferes with human mental function. They cause patients to hallucinate and suffer delusions. Schizophrenia greatly interferes with all areas of patients’ day-to-day activities, decreasing abilities to take care of themselves and to socialize. Patients usually start displaying symptoms at the age of 14 to 16 or in their late teens. Approximately 1 percent of the population has schizophrenia.
What causes schizophrenia?
Many factors, both physical and psychological, are thought to cause schizophrenia.
• Genetics – Schizophrenia may be a genetic disorder because a person’s chance of
developing it increases the closer they are related to a patient.
• Abnormalities in the brain may cause chemical imbalances that can lead to
• Stress can set off this illness.
• Being criticized, fussed over or picked upon can also trigger symptoms of
What are the symptoms?
Early symptoms of this illness can appear slowly over time or suddenly. In cases which symptoms slowly develop, patients will start to be disorganized and confused, often feeling out of touch with reality. As the patients’ conditions worsen, people around them will notice changes in theirpersonalities. Patients may become asocial and paranoia. They will also experience sleeping problems, often unable to sleep at night. Moreover, they will not be able to function normally at work or school, having gradually lost interests in their surroundings. Symptoms can also include self-neglect, such as not paying attention to their hygiene. People with the aforementioned symptoms should seek medical help as soon as possible. Early treatments are much more effective.
Schizophrenia causes two groups of symptoms.
1. Positive Symptoms
• Delusions – Patients may think that someone is trying to harm or poison them. They may also think they have psychic abilities.
• Illusions – Patients may suffer hallucinations, hearing and seeing things that are non-existent.
• Disorganized or Confusing Thoughts – Patients may lose the ability to reason. Their logic may not make sense. They might often change topics mid-conversation.
• Abnormal Behaviors – These symptoms are related to the patients’ disorganized or confusing thoughts. Because of the prior symptoms, they may start harming others or acting usual such as laughing or crying without any apparent reason.
2. Negative Symptoms
• Asocial – Patients may distance themselves from others and have anti-social attitudes. They will become overly quiet.
• Self-Neglect – Patients may start not bathing or caring about their outward appearances. They may stop sleeping at night.
• Apathy – Patients may seem to be slower than normal and can be inactive for long periods of time. This will lead to lower competence at work or school.
• Reduced Emotion – Patients may stop displaying any emotional responses. They may stop caring altogether.
Positive symptoms generally appear first followed by negative symptoms. Should you or someone close develop any of these symptoms, please seek medical help and advice as soon as possible.
• Schizophrenia can be treated with medicine to control and reduce the resurgence of its symptoms.
• Professional counseling will help patients better understand the disease and its treatments. Family counseling is also recommended so relatives will know how to best interact with and take care of patients.
• Group therapy with other schizophrenics will both provide patients with an understanding social circle and support from friends.
Living with a Schizophrenic – A General Guideline
1. Understand and empathize with patients
It is important to know that patients do not intend to cause problems or be a nuisance and forgive their abnormal behaviors. Do not argue with them about their mental status. Empathize with their problems. Show support by being tolerant.
2. Encourage without imposing
Stress can trigger bouts of schizophrenia. Therefore, do not expect too much or push patients too hard. However, lack of interest from family members can also worsen their symptoms. It is best to encourage patients to take care of themselves and to engage in undemanding activities such as simple household chores. Do not coerce them into anything. Avoid negatively criticizing or reprimanding them.
3. Provide care
Schizophrenic patients need care. Make sure that they take their medication. Pay attention to their livelihood and well-being.