Mental illnesses are a reality in our lives. No matter what the cause of it is, it is something that many of us have to live with together, with friends, relatives or acquaintances who often need some kind of help. One of the diseases that affects not only the person , but also those around him, is schizophrenia, which is often misunderstood and the subject of malicious comments.
To better understand how to deal with a person suffering from the disease, what are its causes and how treatments are done, we first need to understand what schizophrenia is.
What is Schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia is one of the most complex psychiatric disorders known. The disease usually manifests itself in adolescence or early adulthood.
It is an alteration in the brain , where the person has difficulties to judge what is real, in addition to having psychotic outbreaks, which can alter the affected person’s ability to feel, think and behave normally. In the most serious cases, the person creates a reality within his mind, where he cannot distinguish what is real and what is not.
Schizophrenia is a disease that shows gradual symptoms, that is, it presents milder symptoms at the beginning of the disease and that can get worse with time. Therefore, we can list the phases of the symptoms in:
- Initial Symptoms
- Positive Symptoms
- Negative Symptoms
As initial symptoms, we can list:
- Depressive Mood
- Learning Difficulties
Since these initial symptoms are very general, they are easily confused with other illnesses such as anxiety disorder or even depression itself. It is necessary to consult a specialist to be sure of what it is and then, start the treatment as soon as possible.
The phase of positive symptoms is characterized by the person’s first psychotic break, that is, the first time the person has a serious psychic disorganization, where he cannot distinguish what is real and what is not. In this psychotic breakdown, or delirium, the person has the following symptoms:
- Persecution Mania
- Creating a Fantasy World
- Religious Ideas
- Seeing and hearing things that don’t exist
It is important to understand that the creation of these fantasies is not purposeful and the person has no control over the things he sees or hears. It is a more serious condition of the disease where attention needs to be redoubled, since, in some cases, the person can even become dangerous.
The negative symptoms appear at a stage where the disease begins to become chronic, causing even a deficiency in some brain functions , such as affectivity, for example. The main symptoms are:
- Unwillingness to Perform Everyday Tasks
- Difficulty showing affection
- Lack of Logic in Speech
Although the disease as a whole affects the person’s social life, it is at this stage that the most acute consequences happen, mainly due to the loss of communication that the sick person has with others.
How is Schizophrenia Diagnosed?
The diagnosis of the disease is made through a consultation with a psychiatrist. There are no tests that show the disease , so the process until it is discovered what is happening is delicate, based on interviews with the person and his family, to rule out the possibility of other types of mental illness and, consequently, of others types of treatments.
Although there are no tests to diagnose schizophrenia, MRIs and CT scans can help rule out the possibility of other mental illnesses. Once the patient is diagnosed with schizophrenia, the psychiatrist needs to assess the severity of the case to be sure about what type of treatment is appropriate.
Causes of Schizophrenia
It is not known exactly how schizophrenia develops in a person’s brain, although it is already known that it is a disease in which changes in neurotransmitters and brain neuronal pathways happen. Knowing this, we can list some factors that help to trigger the disease , such as:
- Family history
- Excessive use of marijuana
- Having a father at an advanced age
- Lack of oxygen in childbirth
It is very important to remember that these are only factors that serve as a trigger for schizophrenia and are not things that will necessarily cause the disease, as there are several other internal and external factors to determine whether or not the person has the disease.
What are the types of Schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia does not manifest itself in just one type in people. We can list some as:
- Simple Schizophrenia
- Paranoid schizophrenia
- Disorganized Schizophrenia
- Catatonic Schizophrenia
Each of these types has a level of disorder and may require different treatments.
In this type of schizophrenia, the patient is usually isolated from others living in his own world. The person who suffers from this type usually has very little or no affection for others, depending on the state they are in.
In paranoid schizophrenia, social isolation also occurs, but the feeling that it is being pursued by people or even by supernatural beings.
Type of schizophrenia where the person presents a infantilized behavior , with meaningless speech and also meaningless behavior.
Catatonic schizophrenia occurs when the patient demonstrates a behavior of total isolation not with people, but with the world, being able to stay in the same position for many hours, which can even cause loss of motor activities.
The treatment of schizophrenia of any kind needs to be done for a lifetime , even if the symptoms disappear. It occurs with a combination of controlled medications and social psychotherapy, which helps the patient to return to reality and understand the world around him.
There are times when hospitalization is necessary , which we call moments of crisis, but whoever defines the right time for hospitalization should always be the psychiatrist responsible for the patient.
Schizophrenia is a disease that affects about 50 thousand people a year in Brazil. Therefore, it is a reality that we need to accept and not pretend that it does not exist or treat as if it were an aberration.
The big problem with mental illnesses is the lack of knowledge that people have about these disorders and the prejudice that happens around them. It is necessary to understand to be able to improve this problem and learn to deal with those who suffer from schizophrenia.
See also: Animal Assisted Therapy – TAA
My name is Dr. Alexis Hart I am 38 years old, I am the mother of 3 beautiful children! Different ages, different phases 16 years, 12 years and 7 years. In love with motherhood since always, I found it difficult to make my dreams come true, and also some more after I was already a mother.
Since I imagined myself as a mother, in my thoughts everything seemed to be much easier and simpler than it really was, I expected to get pregnant as soon as I wished, but it wasn’t that simple. The first pregnancy was smooth, but my daughter’s birth was very troubled. Joana was born in 2002 with a weight of 2930kg and 45cm, from a very peaceful cesarean delivery but she had already been born with congenital pneumonia due to a broken bag not treated with antibiotics even before delivery.