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What is Schizophrenia?

Updated: May 24, 2020

Schizophrenia is a serious and severe mental illness that interferes with a person’s ability to think clearly, manage emotions, make decisions and relate to others. It is a complex, long-term medical illness.The age of onset of illness is usually between 20-30yrs. Can occur in both men and women. Schizophrenia may result in some combination of hallucinations, delusions, and extremely disordered thinking and behavior that impairs daily functioning, and can be disabling.




People with schizophrenia require lifelong treatment. Early treatment may help get symptoms under control before serious complications develop.


Risk factors

The precise cause of schizophrenia is unknown, certain factors seem to increase the risk of developing or triggering schizophrenia:


  • Having a family history of schizophrenia

  • Some pregnancy and birth complications, such as malnutrition or exposure to toxins or viruses that may impact brain development.

  • Taking mind-altering (psychoactive or psychotropic) drugs during teen years and young adulthood


Symptoms

  • Positive psychotic symptoms:

Hallucinations, such as hearing voices, paranoid delusions and exaggerated or distorted perceptions, beliefs and behaviors.

  • Negative symptoms:

A loss or a decrease in the ability to initiate plans, speak, express emotion or find pleasure.

  • Disorganisation symptoms:

Confused and disordered thinking and speech, trouble with logical thinking and sometimes bizarre behavior or abnormal movements.

  • Impaired cognition:

Problems with attention, concentration, memory and declining educational performance.



Causes

Genetics.

Schizophrenia isn’t caused by just one genetic variation, but a complex interplay of genetics and environmental influences. Heredity does play a strong role—your likelihood of developing schizophrenia is >6 times higher if you have a close relative, such as a parent or sibling, with the disorder


Environment.

Exposure to viruses or malnutrition before birth, particularly in the first and second trimesters has been shown to increase the risk of schizophrenia. Recent research also suggests a relationship between autoimmune disorders and the development of psychosis.


Brain chemistry.

Problems with certain brain chemicals, including neurotransmitters called dopamine and glutamate, may contribute to schizophrenia. Neurotransmitters allow brain cells to communicate with each other. Networks of neurons are likely involved as well.


Substance use.

Taking mind-altering drugs during teen years and young adulthood can increase the risk of schizophrenia.Research indicates that smoking marijuana/weed/ganja increases the risk of psychotic incidents and the risk of ongoing psychotic experiences.

The younger and more frequent the use, the greater the risk!




Treatment

Its a lifelong illness and has no permanent cure. However antipsychotics medications are available which can significantly control the symptoms and help patients lead a near normal life.


People with schizophrenia often lack insights that their difficulties stem from a mental disorder that requires medical attention. So it often falls to family or friends to get them help.


If you think someone you know may have symptoms of schizophrenia, talk to him or her about your concerns. Although you can't force someone to seek professional help, you can offer encouragement and support and help your loved one find a qualified doctor or mental health professional.





@ Rashmi Mind Clinic intends to spread awareness about Schizophrenia on the occasion of World Schizophrenia Day- 24th May 2020.




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