Schizophrenia typically starts developing between the ages of 16 and 30. Interestingly, males begin to show schizophrenia symptoms a bit earlier than females. It develops very slowly in most of the cases. That is the reason why it becomes difficult for the affected person to know that they have been living with it for many years. However, in some cases, it can happen all of a sudden and develop fast.
Schizophrenia is a very rare mental disorder and it affects only 1 percent of all adults, worldwide. Many mental health experts also believe that schizophrenia is an umbrella name of many illnesses.
What are the schizophrenia symptoms?
Schizophrenia symptoms can be seen very clearly in most of the patients, but in some rare cases, the patient may seem truly fine until they start expressing what is actually going on in their mind.
Schizophrenia symptoms and signs will vary from individual to individual. Some may show all of them while others may display only a few of them. The schizophrenia symptoms are generally classified into four categories:
Positive schizophrenia symptoms which are also known as psychotic symptoms. They include delusions and hallucinations.
Negative symptoms include elements that the individual loses because of this mental disorder like losing the facial expressions or motivation to do better feeling happy.
Cognitive symptoms are related to mental functioning and abilities. This impacts the thought process of the affected person. For example, poor focus and concentration.
Emotional symptoms also come under the category of negative symptoms, where an individual loses his power of emotions.
Let’s discuss the major symptoms further:
Delusions – Because of this symptom, the patient starts developing false beliefs of any kind. These delusions may include a false belief of persecution, or of grandeur or of developing extraordinary powers and skills. They may feel that people are trying to harm them or control them.
Hallucinations – Though, this schizophrenia symptom may affect the other senses too but hearing voices that are not there is more common. The patient can also see, feel, taste, or smell things that are not there actually.
Thought disorder – In this schizophrenia symptom, the affected person tends to jump from one topic to another illogically. He finds it difficult to have a sensible conversation and may use words that make no sense at all, which is often termed as word salad.
Some other schizophrenia symptoms include:
Lack of motivation or losing the drive to achieve something in life or feel pleasure or happiness. They don’t even do their daily functions washing. Cooking or just maintaining their regular hygiene.
Inability to express emotions and not responding correctly to happy or sad occasions.
Social withdrawal is mostly because they think that someone is going to harm them.
Unawareness of illness because of the hallucinations and delusions. The patients tend to take them for real and may never find that they are ill. They refuse to take the medicine because of the fear that people are actually trying to kill them and that the medicine can be poison.
Cognitive difficulties impact an individual’s ability to focus and concentrate. They may not be able to recall things, plan for anything ahead. Organizing and communication become difficult for them.
What are the causes of schizophrenia?
Though there are no medically proven causes of schizophrenia, experts believe that several factors like family history, genetics and chemical imbalance in the brain can trigger the onset of schizophrenia.
There is medical evidence that suggests that genetic and environmental factors when combined can bring about schizophrenia. Though the condition develops majorly because of the inherited element, the environmental triggers can also play a significant role in its development.
Let’s have a look at the factors that can trigger the onset of schizophrenia:
Chances of developing schizophrenia are as low as 1 percent if it does not run in the family. Genetic inheritance is the major cause of this mental disorder. The risk becomes 10 percent higher if any of the parents was diagnosed with this disorder.
Imbalance of brain chemicals
Mental health experts believe that an imbalance of brain chemicals like dopamine and serotonin, the neurotransmitters can also cause the development of schizophrenia.
Although it is not medically proven, many health experts believe that viral infections and during or after birth and trauma before birth also contribute to the development of schizophrenia.
It has also been noticed that stressful and traumatic experiences precede the development of schizophrenia. Before developing or showing any major schizophrenia symptoms the affected individuals develop bad-temper, anxiety, and lose their focus. These behavioral changes become the reasons for relationship problems and can lead to divorce, and unemployment.
Drugs and substance abuse:
Marijuana and LSD are infamous to cause schizophrenia relapses. Cannabis can also trigger the onset of schizophrenia who have a family history of psychotic illness like schizophrenia. Some studies have revealed that certain prescription medicines and drugs, that include steroids and stimulants, can also cause psychosis.
Though there is no proper cure of schizophrenia but with timely recognition of the schizophrenia symptoms and medical intervention the patients can lead productive lives.
Treatment can help in the proper management and relief of many of the schizophrenia symptoms. However, it can never be cured and the majority of schizophrenia patients have to live and cope with these symptoms for their entire life.
Psychiatrists suggest that the most effective treatment for schizophrenia patients includes the combination of medication, psychological counseling, and self-help resources
Anti-psychosis drugs have proved to be very helpful in managing schizophrenia symptoms. Thanks to these drugs, most of the schizophrenia patients are now able to live in their communities.
Medication is the primary treatment of schizophrenia but unfortunately, it becomes difficult for the patients to comply with their medication regimen because they have to follow it for their life.
The patient also needs to continue taking the medication even when schizophrenia symptoms are gone. if not the symptoms will come back.
It is very unfortunate to see your loved one suffering from schizophrenia. Recovery can be a very long and lonely experience for them. It is necessary for the friends and family members to support the affected person and give them proper support.
To know more about schizophrenia causes, symptoms and risk factors, please read