Schizophrenia

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Schizophrenia is a moderately severe long-term mental health condition. People diagnosed with schizophrenia usually perceive abnormal reality. This condition causes a variety of psychological symptoms, including hallucinations, inexplicable fear, and paranoia.

Generally, experts describe the condition of schizophrenia as a type of psychosis, which is a  mental disorder with disintegrated personality and loss of contact with reality. This means that people with schizophrenia are not always able to distinguish their own thoughts from what is actually happening. 

People with schizophrenia require lifelong treatment. Treatment is usually assisted by a psychiatrist who evaluates symptoms, conducts tests, and assesses the patient’s medical history.

Early treatment can help manage the symptoms before they develop into serious complications.

Causes of Schizophrenia

The exact cause of schizophrenia is unknown. However, most experts believe that this condition is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

Many genes influence a person’s chances of developing schizophrenia. According to doctors, there are multiple schizophrenia genes in the patient’s body. This condition can occur in people who have mutations or genetic changes in their bodies.

However, there is no research that can explain how genetic changes affect the overall chances of developing schizophrenia and why it occurs.

The condition of schizophrenia is more likely to occur if genetic changes happen along with environmental factors, such as exposure to viral infections before birth. Taking certain drugs from an early age can also increase your chances of developing schizophrenia.

For patients diagnosed with schizophrenia, there are abnormalities present in the structure and function of the brain; these abnormalities are: 

  • Fewer connections between brain cells.
  • Gaps or spaces in the brain called the larger volume of ventricles 
  • Smaller brain part that is associated with memory

Based on these abnormalities in brain structure, experts concluded that people with schizophrenia have different structures since birth. They also tend to have differences in the chemical content in their brains, also known as neurotransmitters.

When to See a Doctor for Schizophrenia? 

Patients diagnosed with schizophrenia can consult a psychiatrist. A psychiatrist will provide a diagnosis if:

  • The patient has symptoms of delusions, hallucinations, emotional distress, and other negative symptoms for more than one month.
  • The symptoms experienced have a significant impact on the patient’s ability to work and carry out daily activities.

In diagnosing schizophrenia, doctors need to perform a series of screening tests to rule out other mental health conditions. The examination consists of:

  • Physical examination to determine the patient’s physical health condition.
  • Imaging tests to detect the influence of alcohol and drugs on the patient’s body. Imaging tests can be either through an MRI or a CT scan.
  • Psychiatric evaluation, carried out by a psychiatrist or mental health professional by observing the patient’s behavior. Observation also involves discussion of family and personal history.
  • The diagnosis of schizophrenia is carried out by a psychiatrist through assessing the patient’s condition based on a mental health manual.

Before consulting a doctor, schizophrenia patients are advised to write down a list of the symptoms experienced, whether they are aware of it or not. In this case, the patient needs guidance from family or close relatives.

Symptoms of Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia develops slowly over time. In the early stages, the symptoms of this condition may be difficult to detect.

Symptoms of schizophrenia may vary. In general, the symptoms include:

  • Negative symptoms, lack of ability to carry out normal daily activities, such as maintaining personal hygiene and socializing.
  • Disorganized thinking, based on messy and unstructured speech – communication becomes disrupted.
  • Abnormal motor behavior, such as refusing instructions, lack of response, strange attitudes, and excessive aimless movements.
  • Delusions, false beliefs not based on reality. Patient believes that he or she is a famous person. These symptoms are among the most common symptoms in people with schizophrenia.
  • Hallucinations, seeing or hearing things that are not there. Hallucinations are actually harmless, but to people with schizophrenia, these hallucinations occur very strongly.

Treatment for Schizophrenia

Patients diagnosed with schizophrenia require lifelong treatment, even after symptoms have improved. The most common treatment measures are through medications and psychosocial therapy.

In severe cases of schizophrenia, the patient may need to be hospitalized.

Antipsychotic drugs are the most commonly prescribed drugs for people with schizophrenia. This drug is believed to help manage symptoms and affect neurotransmitters in the brain.

In addition to antipsychotic medications, your doctor may also prescribe antidepressants or medication for anxiety disorders.

Consumption of schizophrenia medicines needs to be done in the long term. Therefore, the doctor will continue to monitor the patient’s condition to ensure that the medications consumed do not endanger the patient’s physical health. After a few weeks, the doctor will assess the patient’s symptoms and administer different doses of the drug.

Treatment with medications needs to be balanced with therapy treatment. The most common therapy is social therapy. Usually, this therapy will be started a few weeks after the patient starts taking medications. 

Therapy for patients with schizophrenia include: 

  • Occupational rehabilitation, carried out with the aim of assisting patients in preparing, finding, and keeping jobs.
  • Individual therapy, aimed to normalize the patient’s mindset and learn to control stress and identify the appearance of symptoms.
  • Family therapy, aimed at family members of patients with schizophrenia in order to have support and education on how to deal with patients.
  • Social skills training, focuses on improving communication and the patient’s ability to make social interactions. This therapy aims to allow patients to participate in regular daily activities.

Treatment Costs for Schizophrenia

The cost for schizophrenia treatment varies, depending on the symptoms, how old the patient is, and the treatment method given. 

For more information regarding the estimated costs of schizophrenia treatment, contact Smarter Health.

Prevention of Schizophrenia 

The condition of schizophrenia can occur by itself due to abnormalities in brain structure. It is still unknown as to what causes this disorder. For this reason, there are no specific preventive measures that can be done to prevent schizophrenia.

People in the risk factor category might be able to anticipate this condition. These risk factors include:

  • Have family or parents who have a history of schizophrenia.
  • Dealing with immune system diseases, such as autoimmune and inflammatory diseases.
  • Consume drugs that impact thinking ability during adolescence and early adulthood.
  • Have pregnancy and birth complications, such as malnutrition or exposure to viral infections and hazardous chemicals.

Home Remedies for Patients Diagnosed with Schizophrenia

Treatment for schizophrenia patients at home requires support from family members or close relatives that regularly carry out daily activities with the patient. 

If the patient gets early treatment, the symptoms may improve. That is why the patient and his/her family is recommended to:

  • Avoid alcohol consumption.
  • Learn more about schizophrenia.
  • Join community and family therapy for schizophrenia

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