What is Schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia is a severe brain disorder that affects a very small population of people. According to the World Health Organization, “Schizophrenia affects 20 million people worldwide but is not as common as many other mental disorders.”
Symptoms of Schizophrenia
- Hallucinations; hearing and seeing things that are non-existent,
- Strange beliefs that others don’t have,
- Excessive feelings of demotivation,
- Difficulty thinking and focusing,
- Difficulty paying attention and making decisions,
- No pleasure in performing daily activities or lack thereof,
- Talking less, being in a state of confusion and performing bizarre movements.
Upon mentioning this, it’s only appropriate that we answer the million dollar question. “What causes Schizophrenia?” The answer isn’t as simple as we’d like but scientists have declared that it stems from a mixture of a person’s genetics, environment, and differences in brain structure and release of hormones such as dopamine. The onset of it can start in teenagers/young adults in their early 20’s regardless of whether it’s a man/woman/child. It rarely occurs in middle adulthood and in the elderly. There isn’t a specific cure for this disorder but there are ways to manage and control it. It’s also important to note that each treatment plan is tailored to the needs of each individual.
Generally, psychologists opt for psychotherapy paired with anti-psychotic medication which has shown significant improvement in patients. Some other ways of helping patients with Schizophrenia would be; to teach them new methods of coping, engage them in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)/Arts Therapy/Family therapy in which family/friends are educated and informed of how they can regularly and effectively serve the patient. At times the symptoms of schizophrenia may be severe to the point that the patient is physically violent and may even harm themselves/others. In such cases, they must be admitted to the hospital immediately to receive the special care they deserve.
What can you do if you are diagnosed with Schizophrenia?
The road to recovery may not be easy and in some cases patients can relapse. However, it is possible for patients to reach a level of normalcy in their lives in spite of the disorder. To achieve this, the patient can attempt the following;
- Take the prescribed medication on time,
- Make an effort to exercise and look after one’s physical hygiene & appearance,
- Eat a balanced & nutritious diet,
- Maintain a good sleep pattern,
- Check one’s blood pressure,
- Avoid the use of substances such as; tobacco, alcohol & drugs (as they may react with the prescribed medication and become fatal)
- Stay away from stressful situations/environments.
In brief Schizophrenia is a disorder that can be treated and controlled with the right approach. It’s time that we clear the stigma surrounding Schizophrenia and advise the general masses to be more aware about this disorder so that Mental Health Practitioners are better able to serve the community and assist people with any Mental Health issue.
American Psychiatric Organisation. (2017). What is schizophrenia?. https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/schizophrenia/what-is-schizophrenia
World Health Organisation. (2019, October 4). Schizophrenia. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/schizophrenia
American Psychological Association. (2015, February 15). Recognizing the signs of schizophrenia. http://www.apa.org/topics/schizophrenia/recognizing
National Institute of Mental Health. (2020, May). Schizophrenia. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/schizophrenia/
Medscape. (2018, October 30). Schizophrenia overview clinical presentation [Video]. YouTube. https://youtu.be/WQ7oEn8DmR8
Health Direct. (n.d.). Schizophrenia. https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/schizophrenia
Movies about schizophrenia – Mental health related films. (n.d.). [Illustration]. https://www.therapyroute.com/article/movies-about-schizophrenia-mental-health-related-films-by-e-sinisi