Schizophrenia is a rare but complex type of mental disorder which often has life-altering ramifications. Even though less than 1% of people all over the world are at risk of developing schizophrenia those who do may end up suffering from hallucinations, delusions and end up having difficulties in occupational and social situations they are in. with the knowledge of the symptoms and risk factors of the disorder which includes the onset of manifestation of the symptoms one can be able to spot the warning signs of this disorder.
Schizophrenia distorts the way a person thinks, expresses their emotions, acts, perceives reality and relates to other people. Those who have chronic schizophrenia have a problem when it comes to their functioning in the society, at their places of work, in schools and even within their relationships. Schizophrenia can leave an individual that is suffering from it frightened and withdrawn from the rest of the society (Sajatovic, Mullen, & Sweitzer 2006).This is a life long disease that can not be cured but can only be controlled with proper treatment. A common myth about schizophrenia is that it involves a split personality which is not true at all. It is psychosis, a type of mental illness whereby an individual can not tell the difference between reality and imagined things. People with this disorder behave strangely and in a manner that is quite shocking.
Most cases of schizophrenia appear in the late teens or even early adulthood, it can also appear for the first time during the middle age of an individual.in rare cases schizophrenia can affect young children or adolescents those symptoms in such cases appear slightly different. Generally, the earlier schizophrenia develops in a person the more severe the case will be. Schizophrenia is also more severe in man as compared to women.
Historical facts about schizophrenia
Mental illnesses were not understood well in ancient times. This means that conditions such as schizophrenia were not in any way differentiated from the other forms of mental illnesses. The word schizophrenia was coined by Eugen Bieuler in 1950 which was intended to describe the separation of function between thinking, personality, memory and perception. Bleuler was to first to give a description of the symptoms of schizophrenia as being either positive or negative both him and Kraepelin recognized that the symptoms of this disorder are classified into distinct categories. They came up with a typology of schizophrenic subtypes that are still being used in modern studies of schizophrenia. The history of schizophrenia is quite complex and in fact not an easy one to characterize in a linear historical avenue although attempts are still in place. According to some people the disease and been in existence for a long time but it was just "discovered during the early 20th century." But the plausibility of this claim is only dependent on the success of retrospectively diagnosing any earlier cases of madness and referring them as schizophrenia. According to other people the name schizophrenia refers to a culturally determined combined mental symptoms .what is know now as insanity in the 20th century has been divided into diseases like paranoia, bipolar disorder, it is worth noting that the mental symptoms which are included under the concept of schizophrenia are real enough and hence have the potential of making people suffer and hence will forever need to be understood and treated (Sajatovic, Mullen, & Sweitzer 2006).
Neural Basis of Schizophrenia
The neural basis of schizophrenia involves an imbalance of abnormal brain structures and neurotransmitters. Schizophrenia is associated with excessive amounts of a neurotransmitter known as dopamine. Other neurotransmitters such as glutamate, serotonin, acetylcholine, gamma aminobututyric acid also play a role in the development of schizophrenia. The neural basis of schizophrenia development also involves abnormalities in the structure of hind brain, forebrain and limbic system. According to research reduced gray matter density in parts of the brain can be a factor that causes symptoms such as disorganized speech, thoughts and behavior in those suffering from schizophrenia. There are also structural abnormalities of the amygdala, hippocampus, thalamus and cerebellum that contribute to the development of schizophrenia.
Possible causes of schizophrenia
The causes of this disorder have not been completely understood leading to the conclusion that it might be caused by a combination of environmental, psychological, social, genetic and neurological factors. Schizophrenia has a very strong hereditary component in that an individual that has a first degree relative either a parent or sibling that has schizophrenia has a 10% chance of developing this disorder as opposed to the 1% chance of individuals within the general population. However it is important to note that schizophrenia is only influenced by genetics but it is not determined by it. Furthermore those people who are genetically predisposed to schizophrenia do not always end up developing this disorder. Some of the environmental factors that lead to the development of schizophrenia are such as an infection during development in the womb or a serious infection that might have occurred during an individual's early childhood, prenatal exposure to a viral infection, low oxygen during birth, early parental loss, physical or sexual abuse during childhood and so on. The different symptoms of schizophrenia may be as a result of different neurological dysfunctions.
Symptoms of Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia symptoms are usually attributed to other mental illnesses. There is however no single specific symptom that can be used for the diagnosis of schizophrenia. There are several symptoms that can be linked with schizophrenia. These symptoms can be divided into three positive, negative and cognitive.
These reflect a distortion of the normal functioning .The active abnormal symptoms include delusions which involve beliefs that are not based on reality mostly involving misinterpretation of experience or perception. Hallucinations involve hearing and seeing things that are not inexistence. Thought disorder involves having difficulty in speaking and the organization of individual's thoughts. Disorganized behavior can be demonstrated in various ways such as unpredictable agitation Negative symptoms
This includes the absence or dimishment of some of characteristics that are useful in normal functioning. These include; lack of emotions, social withdrawal, lack of motivation, loss of interest in day-to-day activities and so on (Ford, Krystal & Mathalon, 2009).
These involve a problem with the thinking process. They are the most disabling since they interfere with an individual's ability to carry out daily tasks. These include memory problems, difficulty in paying attention and problems with making sense of information.
Schizophrenia can be diagnosed by using the criteria of American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic Statistical manual of mental disorders. The criteria use a self reported experience of an individual and a report of some abnormalities in their behavior. This is then followed by a clinical assessment that is carried out by a mental health professional ( Ford, Krystal, & Mathalon,2009).
Early warning signs of schizophrenia
There are some common early warning signs that should be noted keenly in order for one to make an early diagnosis of the disorder. These early warning sings include; social withdrawal, suspiciousness or withdrawal, a deterioration in an individual's personal hygiene, one is not able to cry or even express joy, depression, forgetfulness, extreme reaction to any form of criticism, strange way of speaking or use of words, oversleeping or insomnia, odd or irrational statements and so on.
Different types of schizophrenia
This type of schizophrenia involves either delusions which are erroneous beliefs that involve a misinterpretation of perceptions or experiences or auditory hallucinations which involve individual hearing voices which are distinctly from their own thoughts. Those suffering from this type of schizophrenia exhibit anger, anxiety and argumentative behavior. Some of them get violent or suicidal but they have the greatest ability of getting =functionally stable over time (Krans,2010).
This type includes different types of disorganization on an individual's speech and behavior. This implies that a person can talk in circles or even off-topic or give answers which are not in any way related to the questions they are being asked. This prevents an individual from having the ability to go about their daily activities like taking a shower, dressing or preparing meals. A person suffering from this type of schizophrenia has a flat expression or end up behaving in an inappropriate way in social situations .such an individual shows odd behaviors like acting silly, grimacing and laughing at inappropriate times ( Krans,2010).
This type of schizophrenia appears as extreme immobility or total unresponsiveness while in other times it can manifest itself as copy-cat like behaviors .its symptoms are related to psychomotor disturbances like mutism, immobility or the persistently refusing instructions or orders that are given to an individual. Those suffering from this type may repeat something that has been said or an action done (Krans, 2010).
Residual and undifferentiated schizophrenia
Residual schizophrenia is the time after an individual has had at least one schizophrenic episode but no longer exhibits any major positive symptoms. However this individual does not exhibit any of the negative symptoms…