Updated: May 26
Schizophrenia is a chronic brain dysfunction. Schizophrenia is like a veil that separates one's mind from reality, causing them to experience recurring bouts of psychosis that affect their thinking, social connections, and actions. As time passes, the veil becomes thicker, and the person's thoughts become jumbled, allowing hallucinations and delusions to invade their daily routine. Their behavior may seem erratic as they react to the illusory sights and sounds around them. Unfortunately, people often confuse schizophrenia with multiple personality disorder, which only adds to the illness's stigma. Moreover, some individuals with schizophrenia may experience catatonia, a rare condition where they become almost statue-like, with bizarre movements and inappropriate behavior toward others.
The Thought Process
Due to the disorientation of thoughts, people with schizophrenia may have trouble sorting their thoughts or making rational propositions. They may feel like they are drifting aimlessly amidst the vast sea of ideas. There seems to be no interconnection between the two subsequent thoughts. At some point, they may feel the thoughts are either simply wiped off from their brain (thought withdrawal), the thought process comes to a standstill, and the flow gets broken (thought blocking).
The Impact on Behavior
Schizophrenia is not something that develops overnight. The symptoms aggravate over some time. Few indications may be noticed in the early teenage years. These may include a significant drop in academics, drastic and sudden concentration issues, withdrawal, passion for ideas that may seem strange to everybody else, reduced interest in self-care and looks, difficulty distinguishing reality from fantasy and hampered verbal communication, to name a few.
Who Gets Schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia has no personal bias toward anyone. It can affect anyone or everyone. It’s equally common among males and females and among different races. Symptoms generally begin to appear between ages 16 and 30. The onset is, however, seen earlier in males than in females. The occurrence during childhood or after the age of 45 is very rare.
The symptoms usually fall into one of three categories:
Positive signs - There’s a difference between the natural world and how they perceive it. The same applies to the sensory organs too. They may taste, view, smell, or hear stuff others don’t.
Negative symptoms - These indicate a lack of interest and passion in almost everything. Be it being with friends or family or doing daily mundane chores.
Cognitive symptoms - Anything that involves intellectual interference is absent. Paying attention, having a focus, or retention suffer a significant lag.
What Causes It?
Despite substantial research in this realm, the sure shot cause is yet to be figured out. Scientists assume genetic influence and events in one’s past to hold a lot of weight. If we consider the functioning of the brain cells and issues with the chemicals such as glutamate and dopamine, the underperformance can also account for the disorder. Structural differences like fewer or inactive nerve cells that lead to larger fluid-filled cavities or ventricles in the brain can also be held responsible to some extent.
Schizophrenia cannot be diagnosed by running medical tests. Mental health practitioners proceed by delving deeper into the concerned person’s past history and symptoms. Tests are usually run to rule out any other medical conditions. In the case of teenagers, the onset of the disorder can be effectively detected by analyzing certain behaviors along with their medical history.
Although schizophrenia can be challenging, with appropriate therapies and medication, one can take charge of his or her life again.
The Ray of Hope
The confirmatory tests for schizophrenia may bring life changing turns for those affected and the rest involved with them. A bit of self-control and the urge to beat the odds may help your loved one lead a meaningful life.
It is very easy to succumb to denial mode. It is a natural way, a reflex of turning your back toward anything unpleasant that puts the family and the caregivers to live in denial as well. The easier option is not the correct one. It would do more harm than good in the days to come.
A person with schizophrenia has the right to and can lead a reasonably healthy and meaningful life, for sure. All they need is proper medication, effective and supportive counseling, and a good tie-up with the community and associated resources. The availability of support groups is a blessing in disguise.
Confront your fears and help the scared squad, too.
It’s time to Connect, Consult & Heal.