Schizophrenia is a disorder of thought and affects 1% of the world’s population. Someone with schizophrenia may have difficulty distinguishing between what is real and what is imaginary.
The causes of schizophrenia are unknown. Patients with schizophrenia have a chemical imbalance of dopamine and serotonin, which are very important neurotransmitters in the brain.
There may be a genetic or familial inheritance of the disease, as this disease may be seen in several members of the same family and across generations. However, there are also theories that viral infections and environmental triggers may also play a role.
Signs and Symptoms
- Hearing or seeing something(s) that isn’t there (hallucinations)
- Constant feeling of paranoia or being watched (delusions)
- Nonsensical writing and/or speech (disordered thinking/speech)
- Emotional bluntness (inappropriate reaction to important situations)
- Deterioration in academic and/or work performance
- Change in appearance/hygiene habits
- Personality changes
- Withdrawal from social situation
- Inappropriate or bizarre behavior
- Extreme preoccupation with religion/the occult
Symptoms usually appear between the ages of 13-25 and more often affect males.
What to Do
If you suspect that you or a loved one may be schizophrenic, the best first step is to seek a psychological/medical evaluation.
Any expression (either verbal or physical) of violence towards self or another person should prompt immediate medical attention in an Emergency Room. In these cases, it is best to call 911.
- Case Management
- Rehabilitation programs
How to Support a Loved one with Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia can be very challenging not only for patients but also their families. Here are some helpful things to know:
- You cannot cure this mental disorder
- Symptoms may get worse despite medications, family support, and therapy
- It may be hard to accept this diagnosis
- Delusions are not based on rational thought, and therefore reasoning will not help
- No one is to blame
- Mental illnesses are medical illnesses
- Seek support not only for the patientbut also any family members
- Ask questions
- Continue to love