Ques. 1 What is Schizophrenia?
Ans. Schizophrenia is a mental disorder characterized by abnormal social behavior and failure to recognize what is real. Common symptoms include false beliefs, unclear or confused thinking, hearing voices, reduced social engagement and emotional expression. People often have additional mental health problems such as major depression, anxiety disorders, or substance use disorder. Symptoms typically come on gradually, begin in young adulthood, and last a long time.
Schizophrenia is a serious disorder which affects how a person thinks, feels and acts. Someone with schizophrenia may have difficulty distinguishing between what is real and what is imaginary; may be unresponsive or withdrawn; & may have difficulty expressing normal emotions in social situations.
Contrary to public perception, schizophrenia is not split personality or multiple personality. The vast majority of people with schizophrenia are not violent and do not pose a danger to others. Schizophrenia is not caused by childhood experiences, or lack of willpower, nor are the symptoms identical for each person.
The cause of schizophrenia is believed to be a combination of genetic and environmentalfactors. Possible environmental factors include cannabis use, poor nutrition during pregnancy, parental age, and certain infections. Diagnosis is based on observed behavior and the person's reported experiences. During diagnosis a person's culture must also be taken into account. As of 2013 there is no objective test. Schizophrenia does not imply a "split personality" or "multiple personality disorder" condition with which it is often confused in public perception.
Ques. 2 What are the symptoms of schizophrenia?
Ans. A medical or mental health professional may use the following terms when discussing the symptoms of schizophrenia.
Positive symptoms are disturbances that are “added” to the person’s personality.
i. Delusions -- false ideas--individuals may believe that someone is spying on him or her, or that they are someone famous.
ii. Hallucinations –seeing, feeling, tasting, hearing or smelling something that doesn’t really exist. The most common experience is hearing imaginary voices that give commands or comments to the individual.
iii. Disordered thinking and speech -- moving from one topic to another, in a nonsensical fashion. Individuals may make up their own words or sounds.
Negative symptoms are capabilities that are “lost” from the person’s personality.
a) Social withdrawal
b) Extreme apathy
c) Lack of drive or initiative
Ques. 3 What causes schizophrenia?
Ans. Some theories about the cause of this disease include: genetics (heredity), biology (the imbalance in the brain’s chemistry); and/or possible viral infections and immune disorders.
Scientists recognize that the disorder tends to run in families and that a person inherits a tendency to develop the disease. Schizophrenia may also be triggered by environmental events, such as viral infections or highly stressful situations or a combination of both.
Similar to some other genetically-related illnesses, schizophrenia appears when body undergoes hormonal and physical changes, like those that occur during puberty in the teen and young adult years.
Genetics help to determine how the brain uses certain chemicals. People with schizophrenia have a chemical imbalance of brain chemicals (serotonin and dopamine) which are neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters allow nerve cells in the brain to send messages to each other. The imbalance of these chemicals affects way a person’s brain reacts to stimuli--which explains why a person with schizophrenia may be overwhelmed by sensory information (loud music or bright lights) which other people can easily handle. This problem in processing different sounds, sights, smells and tastes can also lead to hallucinations.
Ques. 4 What are the different types of schizophrenia?
Ans. The different types of schizophrenia are :
i. Catatonic schizophrenia -- a person is withdrawn, mute, negative and often assumes very unusual body positions.
ii. Residual schizophrenia -- a person is no longer experiencing delusions or hallucinations, but has no motivation or interest in life.
iii. Schizoaffective disorder--a person has symptoms of both schizophrenia and a major mood disorder such as depression.
iv. Paranoid schizophrenia -- a person feels extremely suspicious, persecuted, or grandiose, or experiences a combination of these emotions.
Disorganized schizophrenia -- a person is often incoherent in speech and thought, but may not have delusions.
Ques. 5 What are the early warning signs of schizophrenia?
Ans. The signs of schizophrenia are different for everyone. Symptoms may develop slowly over months or years, or may appear very abruptly. The disease may come and go in cycles of relapse and remission.
Behaviors that are early warning signs of schizophrenia include:
a) Strange body positioning
b) Feeling indifferent to very important situations
c) Deterioration of academic or work performance
d) A change in personal hygiene and appearance
e) A change in personality
f) Increasing withdrawal from social situations
g) Irrational, angry or fearful response to loved ones
h) Inability to sleep or concentrate
i) Inappropriate or bizarre behavior
j) Extreme preoccupation with religion or the occult
k) Hearing or seeing something that isn’t there
l) A constant feeling of being watched
m) Peculiar or nonsensical way of speaking or writing
Ques. 6 What are the common warning signs of schizophrenia?
Ans. The most common early warning signs of schizophrenia include:
i. Forgetful; unable to concentrate
ii. Flat, expressionless gaze
iii. Inability to cry or express joy
iv. Inappropriate laughter or crying
vi. Oversleeping or insomnia
vii. Odd or irrational statements
viii. Extreme reaction to criticism
ix. Strange use of words or way of speaking
x. Social withdrawal
xi. Hostility or suspiciousness
xii. Deterioration of personal hygiene
While these warning signs can result from a number of problems—not just schizophrenia—they are cause for concern. When out-of-the-ordinary behavior is causing problems in your life or life of a loved one, seek medical advice. If schizophrenia or another mental problem is the cause, treatment will help.
There are five types of symptoms characteristic of schizophrenia: delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech, disorganized behavior, & the so-called “negative” symptoms. However, the signs and symptoms of schizophrenia vary dramatically from person to person, both in pattern and severity. Not every person with schizophrenia will have all symptoms, & the symptoms of schizophrenia may also change over time.
Schizophrenic hallucinations are usually meaningful to person experiencing them. Many times, the voices are those of someone they know. Most commonly, the voices are critical, vulgar, or abusive. Hallucinations also tend to be worse when the person is alone.
Ques. 7 What is the recovery method of schizophrenia?
Ans. While no cure for schizophrenia exists, many people with this illness can lead productive and fulfilling lives with proper treatment. Recovery is possible through a variety of services, including medication and rehabilitation programs. Rehabilitation can help a person recover the confidence and skills needed to live a productive and independent life in community. Types of services that help a person with schizophrenia include:
a) Drop-in centers are places where individuals with mental illness can socialize and/or receive informal support and services on an as-needed basis.
b) Housing programs offer a range of support and supervision from 24 hour supervised living to drop-in support as needed.
c) Employment programs assist individuals in finding employment and/or gaining the skills necessary to re-enter the workforce.
d) Therapy/Counseling includes different forms of “talk”therapy, both individual and group, that can help both the patient and family members to better understand the illness and share their concerns.
e) Crisis Services include 24 hour hotlines, after hours counseling, residential placement and in-patient hospitalization.
f) Case management helps people access services, financial assistance, treatment and other resources.
g) Psychosocial Rehabilitation Programs are programs that help people regain skills such as: employment, cooking, cleaning, budgeting, shopping, socializing, problem solving, and stress management.
h) Self-help groups provide on-going support and information to persons with serious mental illness by individuals who experience mental illness themselves.
The new generation of antipsychotic medications help people with schizophrenia to live fulfilling lives. They help to reduce biochemical imbalances that cause schizophrenia and decrease the likelihood of relapse. Like all medications, however, anti-psychotic medications should be taken only under supervision of a mental health professional.
There are two major types of antipsychotic medication:
i. Conventional antipsychotics effectively control the “positive”symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions, and confusion of schizophrenia.
ii. New Generation (also called atypical) antipsychotics treat both the positive and negative symptoms of schizophrenia, often with fewer side effects.
Side effects are common with antipsychotic drugs. They range from mild side effects such as dry mouth, blurred vision, constipation, drowsiness and dizziness which usually disappear after a few weeks to more serious side effects such as trouble with muscle control, tremors and facial ticks. The newer generation of drugs have fewer side effects. However, it is important to talk with your mental health professional before making any changes in medication since many side effects can be controlled.
Schizophrenia is challenging disorder that makes it difficult to distinguish between what is real and unreal, think clearly, manage emotions, relate to others, and function normally. But that doesn't mean there isn't hope. Schizophrenia can be successfully managed. The first step is to identify the signs and symptoms. The second step is to seek help. With the right treatment and support, a person with schizophrenia can lead a happy, fulfilling life.
Although schizophrenia is chronic disorder, there is help available. With support, medication, and therapy, many people with schizophrenia are able to function independently and live fulfilling lives.
Ques. 8 What treatments are available for schizophrenia?
Ans. If you suspect someone you know is experiencing symptoms of schizophrenia, encourage them to see a medical or mental health professional immediately. Early treatment--even as early as the first episode--can mean a better long-term outcome.
Ques. 9 Which other medical conditions look like schizophrenia?
Ans. The medical and psychological conditions the doctor must rule out before diagnosing schizophrenia include:
i. Medical conditions – Schizophrenia-like symptoms can also result from certain neurological disorders (such as epilepsy, brain tumors, and encephalitis), endocrine and metabolic disturbances, and autoimmune conditions involving the central nervous system.
ii. Mood disorders – Schizophrenia often involves changes in mood, including mania and depression. While these mood changes are typically less severe than those seen in bipolar disorder major depressive disorder, they can make diagnosis tricky. Schizophrenia is particularly difficult to distinguish from bipolar disorder. The positive symptoms of schizophrenia (delusions, hallucinations, and disorganized speech) can look like a manic episode of bipolar disorder, while negative symptoms of schizophrenia (apathy, social withdrawal, and low energy) can look like a depressive episode.
iii. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – PTSD is an anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to traumatic event, such as military combat, an accident, or a violent assault. People with PTSD experience symptoms that are similar to schizophrenia. The images, sounds, and smells of PTSD flashbacks can look like psychotic hallucinations. The PTSD symptoms of emotional numbness &avoidance can look like the negative symptoms of schizophrenia.
iv. Other psychotic disorders – Schizophrenia is a type of psychotic disorder, meaning it involves a significant loss of contact with reality. But there are other psychotic disorders that cause similar symptoms of psychosis, including schizoaffective disorder and brief psychotic disorder. Because of the difficulty in differentiating between the psychotic disorders, it may take six months or longer to arrive at a correct diagnosis.
v. Substance abuse – Psychotic symptoms can be triggered by many drugs, including alcohol, PCP, heroin, amphetamines, and cocaine. Some over-the-counter and prescription drugs can also trigger psychotic reactions. A toxicology screen can rule out drug-induced psychosis. If substance abuse is involved, physician will determine whether the drug is the source of the symptoms or merely an aggravating factor.
Treatment options for schizophrenia are good, and the outlook for the disorder continues to improve. With medication, therapy, and strong support network, many people with schizophrenia are able to control their symptoms, gain greater independence, and lead fulfilling lives.
If someone close to you has schizophrenia, you can make a difference by showing your love and support and helping that person get properly evaluated and treated. To learn more, see the related articles below.
Ques. 10 What are the effects of schizophrenia?
Ans. When the signs and symptoms of schizophrenia are ignored or improperly treated, the effects can be devastating, both to the individual with the disorder and those around him or her. Some of the possible effects of schizophrenia are:
i. Alcohol and drug abuse. People with schizophrenia frequently develop problems with alcohol ordrugs, which are often used in an attempt to self-medicate, or relieve symptoms. In addition, they may also be heavy smokers, complicating situation as cigarette smoke can interfere with effectiveness of medications prescribed for the disorder.
ii. Increased suicide risk. People with schizophrenia have a high risk of attempting suicide. Any suicidal talk, or gestures should be taken very seriously. People with schizophrenia are especially likely to commit suicide during psychotic episodes, during periods of depression, and in the first six months after they’ve started treatment.
iii. Relationship problems. Relationships suffer because people with schizophrenia often withdraw and isolate themselves. Paranoia can also cause a person with schizophrenia to be suspicious of friends and family.
iv. Disruption to normal daily activities. Schizophrenia causes significant disruptions to daily functioning, both because of social difficulties and because everyday tasks become hard, if not impossible to do. A schizophrenic person’s, hallucinations, and disorganized thoughts typically prevent him or her from doing normal things like bathing, eating, or running errands.
Ques. 11 What are Environmental causes of schizophrenia?
Ans. Twin and adoption studies suggest that inherited genes make a person vulnerable to schizophrenia and then environmental factors act on this vulnerability to trigger the disorder.
As for the environmental factors involved, more & more research is pointing to stress, either during pregnancy or at a later stage of development. High levels of stress are believed to trigger schizophrenia by increasing body’s production of the hormone cortisol.
Research points to several stress-inducing environmental factors that may be involved in schizophrenia, including:
a) Exposure to a virus during infancy
b) Early parental loss or separation
c) Physical or sexual abuse in childhood
d) Prenatal exposure to a viral infection
Low oxygen levels during birth (from prolonged labor or premature birth)
Ques. 12 How can you diagnose schizophrenia?
Ans. A diagnosis of schizophrenia is made based on a full psychiatric evaluation, medical history, physical exam, and lab tests.
a) Laboratory tests – While there are no laboratory tests that can diagnose schizophrenia, simple blood and urine tests can rule out other medical causes of symptoms. The doctor may also order brain-imaging studies, such as an MRI or a CT scan, for brain abnormalities associated with schizophrenia.
b) The presence of two or more of the following symptoms for at least 30 days:
3) Disorganized speech
4) Disorganized or catatonic behavior
5) Negative symptoms (emotional flatness, apathy, lack of speech)
c) Significant problems functioning at work or school, relating to other people, and taking care of oneself.
d) Continuous signs of schizophrenia for at least six months, with active symptoms (hallucinations, delusions, etc.) for at least one month.
e) No other mental health disorder, medical issue, or substance abuse problem is causing the symptoms.
f) Psychiatric evaluation – The doctor or psychiatrist will ask a series of questions about you or your loved one's symptoms, psychiatric history, and family history of mental health problems.
g) Medical history and exam – Your doctor will ask about your personal and family health history. He or she will also perform a complete physical examination to check for medical issues that could be causing or contributing to the problem.
Ques. 13 Which are Symptoms and early warning signs of schizophrenia?
Ans. The First Signs of Schizophrenia – Read through personal stories, offered by both people with schizophrenia and their loved ones, describing the early signs and symptoms they observed.
Schizophrenia in Children – Describes symptoms in children, which may be different from those in adults.
Ques. 14 What are Types of schizophrenia?
Ans. Catatonic Schizophrenia – Overview of the signs and symptoms of catatonic schizophrenia, as well as its causes and effects.
Disorganized Schizophrenia – Guide to disorganized schizophrenia’s signs and symptoms, such as disorganized thinking, disorganized behavior, and flat affect.
Paranoid Schizophrenia – Learn about the most common subtype of schizophrenia, including typical signs and symptoms such as paranoid delusions.
Ques. 15 Which Homoeopathic medicines of schizophrenia are used?
Ans. Homeopathy treats the person as a whole. It means that homeopathic treatment focuses on the patient as a person, as well as his pathological condition.
i. Platinum Metallicum is an excellent medicine for treating delusion of grandeur . The characteristic features calling for this medicine to be used are the superiority complex, where the person feels that everyone around him/her is inconsequential and of no value and only he/she is superior and important. The schizophrenic patients requiring this medicine are very proud and arrogant in nature.
ii. Hyoscyamus Niger this homeopathic remedy is useful for those cases of Schizophrenia where the main symptom is delusion of persecution and the patient feels that others are making some plot against him.
iii. Lachesis , is also very effective for treating the delusion of persecution and its use is called for where the symptoms of suspicion and jealousy without any reason are present. Other symptoms like aversion to mix with the world and excessive talkativeness also warrant its use. Other indications requiring its usage are – patient imagines that he is under the control of superhuman powers; that his friends and children are trying to damage him/her; that his friends are planning to put him in a mental asylum and that others are talking about him/her.
iv. Anacardium Orientale is an important medicine that can be utilized in patients experiencing the auditory hallucinations. The patient requiring this medicine usually complains of hearing voices from far away that command him to do activities. He also hears voices of dead people.
v. Phosphorus also ranks as a top medicine for curing the grandiose delusion. The patients for whom this medicine is usually recommended are those possessing an exaggerated idea of self-importance; over-sensitiveness to all external impressions; depression and indifferent behavior towards family and friends, and have strange imaginations e.g. . that something is creeping out of every corner. Another feature that needs a special mention for this medicine to be used is that the symptoms get worse during thunderstorms.