Schizophrenia - Overview

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WHAT IS SCHIZOPHRENIA?

Schizophrenia is a chronic, mental disorder that affects the way in which a person perceives reality, thinks and expresses emotions. Schizophrenia is a lifelong condition, meaning you will need to be on treatment for the rest of your life. Once well-managed, people with schizophrenia can live a productive life in society.

Socially,  having schizophrenia can cause some problems at work, school and in relationships. Due to the disorder, people often lose touch of reality and can feel afraid and become withdrawn. This can be very stressful because the world may seem like a jumble of confusing sounds, images and sounds. 

When unmanaged, people with schizophrenia can have changes in personality as well as changes in behaviour when experiencing a psychotic episode. With appropriate treatment, psychotic episodes can be prevented.

SYMPTOMS

Initially symptoms present as social withdrawal, trouble concentrating, angry fits and difficulty sleeping. 

Late symptoms are:

  • Delusions - These are false, mixed and sometimes strange beliefs that aren’t based on reality that the person refuses to give up, even when shown the facts.
  • Hallucinations - These involve sensations that aren't real. Hearing voices is the most common hallucination in people with schizophrenia.
  • Catatonia - In this condition, the person may stop speaking and their body may be fixed in a single position for a long time.
  • Talking in sentences that don’t make sense makes it difficult for the person to communicate or hold a conversation.
  • Having trouble understanding information and using it to make decisions (a doctor might call this poor executive functioning)
  • Struggling to focus or pay attention
  • Issues using information immediately after learning it (this is called working memory)

Should you realize that any of the above symptoms apply to you, mention it to your treatment team.

 

Written by Dr Ruusa Shivute | Health Window

Reference: Carpenter WT Jr, Buchanan RW. Schizophrenia. N Engl J Med. 1994 Mar 10;330(10):681-90


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