Schizophrenia is a mental health condition that usually appears in late adolescence or early adulthood. In this condition people interpret reality abnormally. Its impact on speech, thinking, emotions and other areas of life can affect a person’s social interactions and everyday activities.
The symptoms usually emerge when a person is between their late teens and early 30s. They tend to develop earlier in males than in females.
It is a lifelong condition, but treatment can help manage the symptoms.
Schizophrenia involves a range of problems with thinking, behavior and emotions. Signs and symptoms may vary, but usually includes –
These are false beliefs that are not based in reality. e.g. you think that you are being harmed or harassed, you have exceptional ability or fame, another person is in love with you, or a major catastrophe is about to occur. Delusions occur in most people with schizophrenia.
These usually involve seeing or hearing things that don’t exist. Hallucinations can be in any of the senses, but hearing voices in the most common hallucination.
• Disorganized thinking (Speech)
Disorganized thinking is inferred from disorganized speech. Effective communication can be impaired and answers to questions may be partially or completely unrelated. Rarerly, speech may include putting together meaningless words that can’t be understood, sometimes known as word salad.
• Extremely disorganized or abnormal motor behavior
This may show in a number of ways, from childlike silliness to unpredictable agitation. Behaviour can include resistance to instructions, inappropriate or bizarre posture, a complete lack of response or useless and excessive movement.
• Negative symptoms
This refers to reduced or lack of ability to function normally. e.g., the person way neglect personal hygeine or appear to lack emotion (doesn’t make eye contact, doesn’t change facial expressions or speakss in a monotone). The person may lose interest in everyday activities, social withdrawl or lack the ability to experience pleasure.
In men, schizophrenia symptoms typically start in the early to mid- 20s. In women, symptoms typically begin in the late 20s. It’s uncommon for children to be diagnosed with schizophrenia and rare for those older than age 45.
Early symptoms of schizophrenia in teenagerss are difficult to recognize as those symptoms can be common for typical development during teen years, such as –
• Withdrawl from friends and family
• A drop in performance at school
• Trouble sleeping
• Irritability or depressed mood
• Lack of motivation
It’s not known what causes such a disease, but researchers believe that a combination of genetics, brain chemistry and environment contributes to development of the disorder.
The following factors might contribute to the development of Schizophrenia –
• Genetic inheritance
If there is no history of schizophrenia in a family, the chances of developing it are less than 1%. However, a person’s risk rises if one of their parents has a diagnosis of it.
• A chemical imbalance in the brain
The disease appears to develop when there is an imbalance of neurotransmitter called dopamine, and possibly also serotonin, in the brain.
• Environmental factors
Factors that may increase the risk of developing this problem includes –
* trauma during birth
* malnutrition before birth
* viral infections
* psychological factors, such as trauma.
• Certain drugs and medications
Evidence has been found that some substances in cannabis can trigger schizophrenia in those who are susceptible to it.
Left untreated, schizophrenia can result in severe problems that affect every area of life. Complications associated with it includes –
• Suicide, suicide attempts and thoughts of suicide
• Anxiety disorders and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
• Financial problems and homelessness
• Social isolation
• Abuse of alcohol or other drugs, including nicotine
• Health and medical problems
• Inability to work or attend school
• Being victimized
Diagnosis of schizophrenia involves ruling out other mental health disorders and determining that symptoms are not due to substance abuse, medication or a medical condition.
Determining a diagnosis may includes –
• Physical Exam
• Tests and screenings
• Psychiatric evaluation
• Use of the criteria in Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) for schizophrenia
It is a lifelong condition, but effective treatment can help a person manage the symptoms, prevent relapses, and avoid hospitalization.
Some potential treatment options includes-
• Antipsychotic drugs
There can be for daily use or for less frequent use if the person opts for injectable medications, which can last up to 3 months between injections.
This can help a person develop coping skills and pursue their life goals.
• Coordinated special care
This integrates medication, family involvement and education services in a holistic approach.
Some common medications includes –
• Risperidone (Risperdal)
• Ziprasidone (Geodon)
• Clozapine (Clozaril)
• Haloperidol (Haldol)
It is essential for a person to continue with treatment plan, even if the symptoms improve. If a person stops taking medication, the symptoms may return.
Ayurvedic Perspective –
In Ayurveda schizophrenia can be correlated with unmada. As per Ayurveda vitiation of doshas and imbalance in inner energy are the major causes of schizophrenia. Yoga and meditation are importantly recommended to improve concentration and overall body health along with herbal medications.
Beneficial Herbs –
Effective Medications –
• Mahakalyanak Ghrita
• Unmada gaja kesari
• Smriti sagar rasa
• Brahmi Ghrita
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