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What is Schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a chronic, severe, and disabling brain disorder. Around 1% of the population is schizophrenic. The schizophrenia symptoms usually start to occur between ages 16-30. The disease affects genders and ethnic groups equally, although men typically start to show signs of schizophrenia in their early twenties, while symptoms in women start to appear in their late twenties to early thirties. The most common symptoms are hearing voices that don’t exist, hallucinations, delusions, believing people can control one’s thoughts, and speaking nonsense.

Schizophrenia Symptoms

People that have schizophrenia experience many different symptoms, ranging from extremely disordered thinking, paranoid behavior, to abnormal motor behavior which includes; inappropriate and bizarre posture or useless or excessive movement. These symptoms become more severe the longer they remain untreated. This is why it is of utmost importance to recognize signs of this debilitating disease and get help before it worsens.

Schizophrenia symptoms can be categorized into 3 types. These are positive symptoms, negative symptoms, and cognitive symptoms.

Positive symptoms are also called psychotic symptoms, and people without schizophrenia do not experience these. These include hallucinations and delusions.

Negative symptoms are when a sufferer has an absence of normal traits, such as lack of interest in activities or inability to carry on a conversation.

Cognitive symptoms have to do with a person’s thought process and often include poor concentration.

Causes of Schizophrenia

The cause of schizophrenia is different from person to person. In many cases, it is a combination of genes and environment. Since the disease runs in families, a person whose relative is schizophrenic has an increased chance of also suffering from it. Schizophrenics have a higher rate of having genetic mutations than the general population.

They also have an imbalance of the neurotransmitters dopamine and glutamine. It has been found that the ventricles are larger in the brains of schizophrenics and that they have less gray matter than non-schizophrenic people.

Diagnosing Schizophrenia

To diagnose schizophrenia, a psychological evaluation is the first step. A doctor will ask the patient about symptoms and family history of mental health problems. Lab tests will also be conducted including blood and urine tests. Brain-imaging tests such as an MRI or CT scan should be done to check for abnormalities. This also ensures that a person’s symptoms are not being caused by a tumor, which can sometimes mimic schizophrenia symptoms.

Effects of Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia can be devastating. People with the disorder tend to isolate themselves, which leads to relationship problems. Sometimes, sufferers try to self-medicate with alcohol or drugs, but this only makes things worse. Sadly, there is also an increased suicide risk for schizophrenics. Any suicidal thoughts or actions should be tended to immediately. These are most likely to occur during a psychotic episode.

Treatment

It’s important to recognize the disease and get treatment before it becomes a problem.
-Dr. David Buch, Carrier Clinic®

The earlier schizophrenia is diagnosed, the easier it is to treat. There is a much better chance of recovery the sooner it’s identified. Most treatment courses include medication and counseling. Anti-psychosis drugs have helped the schizophrenic community by allowing them to live at home rather than requiring lengthy stays in hospitals. It is very important to continue taking medications even when schizophrenia symptoms are not apparent, because they are likely to come back.

Untreated schizophrenia can also lead to drug and alcohol abuse as well as isolation from the world. In severe cases, these effects can also lead to suicide. People with schizophrenia often need intervention from their friends and family so they can recognize the illness and seek treatment.

Help From a Trusted NJ Mental Health Clinic

Carrier Clinic® is one of the most respected mental health clinics in NJ, providing critical treatment for mental illness and drug addiction for over 100 years. We offer inpatient psychiatric treatment services that offer hope and recovery.

If you have sought treatment, but your schizophrenia is resistant to medication, we also encourage you to learn more about Carrier’s life-changing ECT treatment program.

It is important to remember that schizophrenia is 100% treatable and you can continue enjoying your life with the right help. If you think you or a loved may be suffering from schizophrenia, visit your doctor or call our Access Center at 800-933-3579. We are available 24/7 to help get you the care you need.

Related Topic

If you found this topic interesting or helpful, check out this related topic about people with co-occurring psychiatric and addictive disorders.

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