Perhaps one of the most debilitating mental disorders, schizophrenia is a chronically severe disorder that impacts the way a person thinks, feels and behaves. While it may not be as common as other mental disorders, about 1% of the population, schizophrenia can be very disabling and those who suffer from it often seem like that have lost touch with reality.
What is schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia is a chronic mental disorder that involves the breakdown between thought, emotion and behavior. Patients will have a faulty perception of reality, inappropriate actions and feelings, withdrawal and avoidance of reality, operate in a perception of fantasy and delusion and suffer from mental fragmentation.
Types and their Symptoms
Typically starting between the ages of 16 and 30, symptoms of schizophrenia fall into three categories: positive, negative and cognitive.
- psychotic behaviors.
- Thought disorders
- Movement disorders (agitated movements)
- symptoms associated with disruptions to normal emotions and behaviors.
- Flat affect (reduced use of emotions in facial expression or voice tone)
- Reduced feelings of pleasure in everyday life
- Difficulty starting and sustaining activities
- Reduced speaking
- symptoms that may or may not be subtle but impact the memory or other aspects of thinking.
- Lacks the ability to understand information and use it to make decisions
- Trouble focusing or concentrating
- Problems with immediately using information right after learning it
- there are several factors that have been identified that can contribute to the risk of developing schizophrenia at some point in life.
- Environment (viruses, malnutrition before birth, birthing complications, psychosocial factors)
- Brain structure and chemistry
Schizophrenia Treatment and Therapies
Because there is no known cause for schizophrenia, treatments are typically focused on reducing or eliminating the symptoms that the patient suffers from.
- Psychosocial treatments – very helpful once an effective medication has been found. This treatment focuses on the learning and use of coping skills to address the everyday challenges of living with schizophrenia.
- Coordinated specialty care – treatment method that combines the use of medication, psychosocial therapies, family involvement and supported education and employment services that are all aimed at reducing symptoms and improving the quality of life.
Understanding the signs and symptoms of schizophrenia is especially important because early identification can lead to more success with treatment. It is crucial for loved ones to understand that schizophrenia is a biological disorder and that the beliefs and symptoms seem very real to the person suffering. Getting treatment and encouraging loved ones to stay in treatment are key components to a successful treatment plan. At Strategic Mental Health, we understand the difficulties of living with schizophrenia and we offer a comprehensive treatment program as a schizophrenia clinic.
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