What Is Schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia varies in its symptoms, severity and duration from person to person and interferes with an individual’s ability to think and feel. People with schizophrenia have a difficult time distinguishing between what is fantasy and what is real. People may experience unusual thoughts, hallucinations, and have difficulty expressing themselves clearly. Contrary to popular belief, schizophrenia has nothing to do with a “split personality”.
What Causes Schizophrenia?
The exact cause of schizophrenia remains a mystery, though most experts in the area believe that people may inherit a susceptibility to develop the illness. Schizophrenia is thought to be due to a problem in brain development, which is most likely, genetic in origin.
What Are The Symptoms?
Schizophrenia may start slowly, over a period of months or years. The symptoms of the initial stage usually persist for at least 6 months and may include:
- Losing the ability to relax, concentrate, or sleep
- Being moody or withdrawn
- Shutting long term friends out of one’s life
- Work or school begins to suffer
- Decline in personal appearance
Three Symptoms Of Schizophrenia
Once schizophrenia has taken hold it tends to appear in cycles of remissions and relapses. People with schizophrenia may experience one or all three of the following symptoms:
- Delusions: False beliefs that have no basis or reality—individuals may think that they are Napoleon or that someone is spying on them
- Hallucinations: Hearing voices that comment on their behaviour—less often they will see or feel things that are not there
- Thought Disorder: The tendency to jump randomly in conversation from one unrelated topic to another—sometimes rhymes or sounds are substituted for words
Due to these behaviour patterns, schizophrenia has been thought of as a violent mental illness; however, the incidence of violence is as low as the incidences within the general population and if it does occur, the violence often stem from fear.
Approaches To Recovery
Medications are often effective in the treatment of schizophrenia. However, there is not yet a diagnosed cure. Research on schizophrenia continues with the main thrust placed on discovering why the chemical process of the brain fails to function properly. Research into effective treatment will soon be available. Medication together with community support, love, and understanding from friend and family may allow many individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia to function in their community. Psychotherapy is the basis of rehabilitation programs. Whatever the recommended treatment from a trained professional, it is important to be well informed.