Schizophrenia is a long-standing and a functionally disturbing mental disorder in which the affected individual tends to gradually withdraw from social activities and sets themselves in a world filled with delusions (including visual, audio, etc). The perception of reality is seriously distorted, and hence it is considered to be a form of psychosis. The functioning of the brain is abnormal in schizophrenia. The condition tends to affect about 1 % of the population throughout the world. It can occur in almost any age group, but is more common in teenagers and young adults. The condition typically occurs in young women. Some of the symptoms of schizophrenia include delusions, paranoia, hallucinations, lack of emotions, incoherence, feeling of being watched or heard, difficulty in functioning normally at the school, workplace, home, or in social settings, isolation, depression, un-kept personal hygiene, problems with motor functioning, etc. The signs and symptoms vary depending upon various factors. Some individuals may get agitated whereas others may become unresponsive. The individual may also develop several cognitive symptoms such as sensory difficulties, inattentiveness, memory problems, etc. Other psychiatric disorders and substance abuse are also common along with schizophrenia. The diagnosis of schizophrenia is made based on the symptoms, signs, family history, past psychiatric history, mental examination and physical examination (to rule out physical disorders). A definitive cure is currently not available for schizophrenia. However, the symptoms can be controlled if certain measures are followed. Schizophrenia is treated by medications and/or psychotherapy. Some of the medications that are usually administered to treat schizophrenia include anti-psychotics.
However, these drugs can increase the risk of developing diabetes, obesity, hypertension and seizures. These medications help to lower the signs and symptoms. The dosage of the drug varies from one individual to another and is usually kept to the minimum. Psychotherapy plays a major role in treating schizophrenia. The individual is thought ways of dealing with stress. Negative thoughts that linger in the mind should be dealt with effectively. In this way the behavior that develops improves. The family plays a very important role during the treatment of schizophrenia. The family should support the individual closely. In this regard, the family should also be educated. The family should be able to identify any stressful situations that may be particularly damaging to the health of the individual. The family should also encourage the individual to stick to the treatment schedule by performing any homework and consuming the drug on time. The family environment should be completely changed to ensure that the individual does not develop relapses. Social skills training also play a very important role in the rehabilitation of the schizophrenic. Doing a particular job and engaging in completing the daily tasks would ensure that the indicial is functioning in a normal manner. With time, more and more patients suffering from schizophrenia are being treated out of the hospital wards (Mayo. 2006).
The exact cause of schizophrenia is not understood clearly. Scientists suggest involvement of genetic, environmental and neurobiological factors (Mayo. 2006).
There are several professionals and local groups that offer help to schizophrenics. Some of these include family physicians, psychiatric nurses, psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, professional counselors, religious workers, HMO’s, psychiatric hospitals, community mental health centers, psychiatric department of a teaching hospital, private clinics, self-support groups, NGO’s running, staff hospitals, etc (NIMH. 2005).
Recently, the mayo Clinic has come up with a drug that contains neo-tryptophan (an amino acid) that is promising a lot to schizophrenics and Parkinson’s patients. This drug would help another substance to combine with certain receptors in the brain, releasing an anti-psychotic effect. The drug is much safer and long-lasting than current antipsychotic drugs (Mayo. 2001).
Some of the questions that I would like to ask the mental healthcare providers include:-
What is Schizophrenia?
How is the disorder caused?
What are the risk factors?
Does having affected family members increase the risk of developing the condition?
Will the condition of the patient improve?
Is there anyway by which the disorder can be treated or cured?
What is the outcome of the disorder?
Can the disorder recur?
Are there any changes that should be developed in the family environment?
What are the drugs which should be given?