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Schizophrenia represents a chronic mental disorder that negatively affects a person’s perception on reality by distorting her thoughts, emotions and behavior. Because of their abnormal interpretation of reality, people with schizophrenia experience daily functioning impairment and even disablement. As a consequence, they need to undergo lifelong treatment, which has the purpose to help them draw a clear line between reality and imagination, express themselves normally and integrate into society. Some people mistake schizophrenia for split or multiple personality due to its complexity but those affected by this severe condition do not represent a danger to others. This severe type of psychosis, as doctors choose to describe it, can provoke fear, confusion and seclusion. Furthermore, when the condition makes the person to suddenly change her behavior, doctors also call it a psychotic episode. These negative feelings can easily push the respective person into the arms of depression. Specialists warn that not everyone with schizophrenia has the same symptoms, which vary in terms of severity from case to case. Therefore, some people may have just one psychotic episode while others may experience many episodes throughout their life. Apparently, specialists also exclude poor parenting or scarring childhood events from the spectrum of potential causes of schizophrenia.
Doctors do not have a clear perspective in regards to the main cause of schizophrenia, but they managed to develop several theories over time related to genetics, biology and the presence of immune disorders and viral infections.
Generally, schizophrenia affects teenagers and adults meaning people with ages between 16 and 30. However, children may develop this mental illness too, in rare cases. People with schizophrenia usually start experiencing unusual episodes and changes in their behavior, which represent early signs that should not pass unnoticed. The main alarming signs of schizophrenia refer to difficulties in sleeping or concentrating, paranoia and indifference, erratic or inappropriate behavior, alterations both in appearance and personality, seclusion from society, speaking and writing peculiarly, deteriorated performance, abnormal responses or reactions to loved ones. If these characteristic symptoms last more than two weeks, the person in question or those around her must seek professional help immediately.
Symptoms of schizophrenia in teenagers are quite deceitful because they resemble the main characteristics of people in that stage of their life. The majority of teenagers usually alienate from family and social activities, experience sleepless nights, present a lack of motivation that eventually leads to declining school performance as well as irritability and depression. For this reason, doctors encounter difficulties in distinguishing the symptoms of schizophrenia from typical signs of adolescent development. However, in comparison to schizophrenic adults, teenagers do not present delusions but they do experience visual hallucinations.
If people suffering from this severe mental illness do not seek professional treatment, they remain exposed to serious complications that could affect and even threaten their life. These complications include social isolation and aggressive behavior, health problems and self-injury, alcohol or illegal substances abuse, anxiety disorders and depression, suicide thoughts and attempts, inability to function normally in the school or work environment leading to financial and legal problems. Even if the person in question does not contact a professional, those around her have the responsibility to act in her favor and impede her from ruining her life. Offering support and encouragement to such an instable person is a crucial step in the process of helping her to come back to normal. Consequently, the loves ones must pay close attention to the specific symptoms of schizophrenia and express their concerns.
Because doctors do not benefit from a specific test that will instantly help them determine the presence or absence of schizophrenia, the main goal when establishing a diagnosis of this severe mental illness is the exclusion of other disorders that manifest with similar symptoms, like bipolar disorder and even substance abuse. In certain cases, solely the acknowledgement of delusions and hallucinations, which are extremely notable and bizarre, convince specialists to provide treatment for schizophrenia. Nevertheless, in other cases, doctors need to know for sure that characteristic symptoms lasted at least for one month. When it comes to ruling out other conditions, doctors use physical examination as well as test and screenings, such as CT or MRI scan. A professional specialized in mental health must perform a psychiatric evaluation that consists in discussing with the patient with the mission to gain useful information about his thoughts and actions, substance use or disposition to violence and suicide. While inquiring about the mental and emotional state of the patient, the specialists has the opportunity to observe his appearance, disorganized speech and behavior. Receiving an accurate diagnosis of schizophrenia as early as possible is very important because it will help the respective person manage the illness better following proper treatment including medicines and psychotherapy. While receiving proper care, the support of the loves ones will enable the patient to cope with the situation without becoming a safe target for depression.
The proper treatment has the power to allow people with schizophrenia live as highly functional and productive individuals in society. Considering that schizophrenia represents a chronic mental illness, some patients respond very well to the treatment while others still present characteristic symptoms needing more assistance and support. However, when doctors finally succeed to control the symptoms, the patient must continue to undergo therapies and supports in order to learn how to deal with stress, develop his social skills and be able to recognize signs of relapse. For instance, the patient benefits from special programs that have the purpose to enable him integrate into society by obtaining a competitive job and self-sufficiency. Besides the respective person with schizophrenia, her family and friends also need to acquire information about the condition for providing both material and emotional support.
Shortly, the lifelong treatment for schizophrenia includes mental health medications, psychosocial treatments and brain stimulation therapies.