Schizophrenia is a mental condition that is often characterized by a distorted experience of reality. Some of the symptoms include delusion, inability to tell the difference between what is real and what is not, hearing voices and isolation from friends and family. It may also be accompanied by other mental disorders such as anxiety and substance abuse.
It is not clear what causes schizophrenia. However, scientists believe its origin is mainly the brain. Chemical imbalances of several neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin may be responsible for this mental condition.
Symptoms of schizophrenia are noticeable as the individual approaches the age of 18. Some of the symptoms are positive for schizophrenia, meaning that they are only observed mainly in people with the condition. Negative symptoms can also be observed in people who do not have schizophrenia.
- Hallucinations: Auditory hallucinations are common where the patient reports hearing voices.
- Delusions: Belief that something is true even with clear evidence proving otherwise.
- Movement Disorders: Awkward or agitated movements.
- Lack of interests in starting relationships
- Flat expression
- ‘Poverty of speech’ or inability to speak coherently and concisely
Some people with schizophrenia may experience severe cognitive symptoms, but for most people, they are usually mild.
- Inability to think clearly
- Inability to use clear information in decision-making
- Issues with working memory
Treatment and Therapies
Even though schizophrenia has no cure, anyone with the condition can seek professional help and live a fulfilling life thereafter. Out of five people that seek help one will get better within five years, three will get better and experience symptoms occasionally, while one person in the group may continue experiencing the symptoms for an indefinite period of time. It is advisable to seek treatment for schizophrenia as soon as possible.
Treatment centers for schizophrenia may use medication to treat the condition. Since the condition is believed to be caused by chemical imbalances in the brain, a medication that affects the levels of dopamine may prove to be effective.
The doctor may try to find an antipsychotic medication that works. Some people may experience intense side effects when using certain antipsychotic drugs. A given prescription may be effective for some but not others. The doctor will try to find the most effective drug and dosage for each patient.
Psychosocial treatment involves both social and psychological interventions. This is useful in helping people with schizophrenia lead productive lives at home, work, or school. It may include:
- Family Therapy: The whole family dynamic is a critical aspect that needs to be addressed. It enables the schizophrenic patient live a fulfilling life and helps the family deal with the challenges.
- Social Skills: The patient is trained on social skills that improve ability to participate in the day to day activities.
- Individual Therapy: One-on-one sessions with a counselor to enable the patient to manage the condition.
- Vocational Support: Help the patient find work opportunities after treatment and rehabilitation.
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Coordinated specialty care (CSC)
This is a treatment model that involves the use of psychosocial therapy, family involvement, vocational support, and education to treat schizophrenia. Through this treatment model, the schizophrenic is meant to avert disabilities common with the condition and helps them to lead normal, productive lives every day.