Schizophrenia, split personality?

Schizophrenia is a lifelong condition that is not always easy to recognize. Fortunately, research is still being done and we know better and better how to deal with it.

What is schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a chronic, serious brain disorder. People with this disorder hear voices that other people do not hear. They are convinced that other people want to harm them, that others can read and control their thoughts. People with schizophrenia are often not easy to recognize. Nothing seems to be wrong with them until they talk about what they really think. This condition affects family life and life in society. It is difficult to find a job or take care of themselves. There are many treatment methods for schizophrenia, but they continue to suffer from it for the rest of their lives. Because medication continues to improve through research, many people are still able to lead a meaningful life.

Risk factors

The cause of schizophrenia is not yet known, but research has shown that certain factors can influence the development of the disorders. These factors include:

  • Family history of schizophrenia
  • Exposure in the womb to viruses, toxins or malnutrition in the first six months of pregnancy
  • Stress
  • Older age of the father
  • Drug use during adolescence and young adulthood

 

Positive symptoms

Positive symptoms are psychotic behaviors that you do not see in healthy people. They are not always there and sometimes more visible than other times. Our positive symptoms include:

Delusions

The person believes things that are not correct, that are not true or cannot be correct. For example, they may think that they are receiving certain messages via television or they may think that they are someone else. They also sometimes think that they are being chased, poisoned or that a plot is being hatched against them. They cannot be discouraged from ideas.

Hallucinations

Hallucinations involve seeing, hearing, smelling or feeling something that others do not see, hear, smell or feel. Hearing voices is most common in schizophrenia. These voices talk to the sick person or his behavior or make that person do certain things. People with schizophrenia may also see objects that are not there, smell smells that we do not smell, or sense that someone is touching them when they are not. With hallucinations it can take a long time for those around you to notice something.

Thought disorders

With thought disorders the person thinks in a disorganized manner. They find it difficult to reconcile their thoughts, and they often talk in a way that is difficult for others to understand. The thoughts can also suddenly block. We notice this when the person suddenly stops talking in the middle of a sentence, for example. The person then has the feeling that the thought has suddenly disappeared from their mind.

Movement disorders

Movement disorders are manifested by excited movement of the body. For example, they repeat certain movements ad nauseam. Otherwise, the person becomes catatonic. Then he does not respond to others and does not move.

Negative symptoms

Negative symptoms are disruptions of normal emotions and behavior. It is difficult to recognize and can also be confused with depression, for example. Negative symptoms manifest themselves, for example, by not moving or talking in a monotonous voice, not enjoying life, not being able to start certain activities or not talking much, even when necessary. People with negative symptoms often need help with their daily activities because they do not take good care of themselves.

Cognitive symptoms

Cognitive symptoms are very subtle and difficult to recognize. Cognitive symptoms manifest themselves, for example, by the inability to understand and use certain information in daily life.

Violent

People with schizophrenia are not usually violent, but when they are, it is usually directed against members of their own family and in their own home. However, the risk is small. Suicide occurs more often among people with this condition; approximately ten percent die by ending their own life.

Therapy

The causes of schizophrenia are not yet known, so treatment focuses on eliminating the symptoms. For example, we use:

Antipsychotics

Antipsychotics have been available since the 1950s, the most commonly used medications at that time being thorazine, haldol, etrafon, trilafon and proxilin. In the nineties new antipsychotics were developed and one of them is clozapine. The disadvantage of this medicine is that it causes a loss of white blood cells, which have to fight infections. People who use clopazine should have their white blood cells checked every two weeks. This makes this drug difficult to use, but it may be especially helpful for people who do not respond to other antipsychotic medications. Fortunately, antipsychotics have also been developed that do not cause this problem. Some examples of this are risperdal, seroquel, geodon or invega. When stopping a medication, it should always be done gradually and on the advice of the doctor.

Prevent

Unfortunately, schizophrenia cannot be prevented. However, early treatment can help control symptoms before serious complications develop. If there is a treatment plan and it is adhered to properly, it can prevent a relapse or worsening of the condition. People at increased risk of schizophrenia can minimize symptoms by avoiding drugs, sleep deprivation and starting antipsychotics on time.

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