What is Schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a mental condition and brain disorder that causes the affected person to abnormally interpret reality. Many schizophrenics suffer from a combination of delusions, behavior problems, hallucinations, and extremely disordered and jumbled though processes.

Unlike the initial thought that most people have about schizophrenia, it is not a multiple personality disorder, and it is not a split personality disorder. Even though the word schizophrenia can be directly translated to English as “split mind,” it is not referring to personalities. The term actually refers directly to the symptoms of the disorder, which are a disruption in the ability to balance emotions, thoughts, and activities involving multiple steps.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for schizophrenia. It is a life-long condition that requires regular treatment from a group of licensed professionals. Many patients find relief in prescription medication as well.

What are the Symptoms of Schizophrenia?

The symptoms of schizophrenia show up at different points of life for men and women. In men, the symptoms typically appear sometime in the early 20’s. Women usually do not show symptoms of schizophrenia until their late 20’s. As far as children go, it is extremely rare for a child to be diagnosed with schizophrenia, and it is just as unlikely for someone over the age of 45 to be diagnosed with schizophrenia.

Schizophrenia affects the majority of a person’s ability to function on a socially normal level. It affects their cognitive behavior and their emotional behavior. The symptoms vary from person to person, but a person with true schizophrenia does exhibit a significantly impaired ability to function in day to day life.

The symptoms of schizophrenia may include the following, and other symptoms may be present:

  • Delusions or false beliefs
  • Hallucinations – This can involve hearing or seeing things that are not there or do not exist.
  • Disorganized thinking and speech.
  • Disorganized or abnormal motor behavior, this can be extreme
  • Negative symptoms – Or the inability to function normally and follow plans of action, or care for themselves and their hygiene.
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Depression
  • Little to no motivation

While these are the only symptoms listed, there can be numerous others. These are just the most commonly shared among the diagnostic group.

Schizophrenia Causes

Schizophrenia is overwhelmingly a genetic disorder. In twin studies, the heredity of schizophrenia is generally somewhere around 90% and it tends to run in families. The genetic differences most frequently seen in persons with schizophrenia are centered around genes affecting dopamine and glutamate receptors. In schizophrenic persons, these neurotransmitters are dysfunctional and result in paranoia, poor mental functioning, and, eventually, the loss of the ability to understand what is real.

While schizophrenia is for the most part a genetic disorder, the onset of schizophrenia is largely controlled by environment. Most people who develop schizophrenia tend to develop it in the early 20s during a time of great distress. The stress occurring during this time tends to bring about schizophrenia in many persons, but it can also occur earlier or later. After a certain amount of time, the symptoms of schizophrenia tend to gradually fade away. This suggests schizophrenia is related to the aging process itself.

How is Schizophrenia Treated?

People who suffer from schizophrenia respond best to a combination of treatments. Usually, the best treatment is counseling, and a combination of medication. The combination of medication that works best depends on the individual and the partner disorders they have.

Possible medications their doctor will try are antipsychotics, mood stabilizers, and antidepressants. Their doctor may also refer them to psychotherapy and counseling. Some patients also benefit from family counseling.

Schizophrenia Prevention

Research into effective ways to prevent schizophrenia are currently underway. As of now, there is no agreed upon consensus about how to prevent schizophrenia in those who are prone to it, but there are a number of steps being taken to decrease the number of schizophrenia births among pregnant women. Genetic screening is commonly used to make sure that women who are at risk of giving birth to schizophrenia-affected children are made aware of how likely such births are to occur. Throughout the pregnancy, certain biomarkers will reveal whether or not a baby is going to develop schizophrenia even in the womb. This can help women prepare for the possibility of a schizophrenic child. While these measures are effective, more efficient means for preventing schizophrenia are being developed thanks to gene editing technologies such as CRISPR and other advanced biotechnologies available today.