While body ailments are often at the forefront of our worries, we often take our mental health for granted. We don’t realize the power our mind holds and how terrifying a mental disorder can be. It is comparatively easy to share feelings about a physical handicap or injury. But disorders such as depression, anxiety, or schizophrenia can be very hard to express because they are not visible and uniquely affect an individual.
What is Schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia is a severe mental disorder that alters the way a person behaves, thinks and feels. About 1.5% of Pakistan’s population is suffering from this disease that occurs equally in both male and females. Globally, it affects about 1 in every 100 people and is known to usually start during early adulthood, most often between the ages of 16 and 30.
The schizophrenia symptoms fall into three categories. These include positive, negative, and cognitive symptoms. Positive symptoms include hallucinations, delusions, and dysfunctional ways of thinking. Negative symptoms on the other hand are associated more with depression and withdrawals. A person suffering from negative symptoms may have difficulty beginning and continuing activities and communicates very little.
Cognitive schizophrenia symptoms make it hard to focus or pay attention.
Types of Schizophrenia:
- Paranoid schizophrenia
This is usually the most common form of schizophrenia, where a person suffers from hallucinations and/or delusions.
- Hebephrenic schizophrenia
In this condition, behaviour is disorganised and unnecessary giggling, laughing etc. are common occurrences.
- Catatonic schizophrenia
This form of illness is more rare. A person suffering from this may not speak at all and behaviour may switch between extremes of over-activity and stillness.
- Undifferentiated schizophrenia
Here, the illness may have some characteristics of paranoid, hebephrenic or catatonic schizophrenia, but does not fit one of these specific types.
- Residual schizophrenia
A person may be diagnosed with this if they have a history of psychosis but only have negative symptoms.
- Simple schizophrenia
Negative symptoms are prominent early and get worse quickly, while positive symptoms are rare.
- Other, including ‘cenesthopathic’ schizophrenia
This is usually described for a person who displays traits not covered by other categories. For example, in cenesthopathic schizophrenia, people experience unusual bodily sensations.
What causes this?
According to studies, one of the factors causing schizophrenia may be genetic. If one of the parents is afflicted with schizophrenia, there is a 13% chance for a child to contract the disorder.
Other than that, social adversity, trauma, family dysfunction and drug abuse are also known to contribute towards this mental illness.
How can schizophrenia be treated?
Although there exists no medical test to determine exactly what changes are occurring through the mind, going through any of the schizophrenia symptoms mentioned above warrant professional help? Upon determining a patient’s mental condition, a treatment plan is suggested by the doctor. This can either be psychological therapy or medication.
Psychological therapy offers ‘talking treatments’ along with learning various coping skills to face challenges brought about by schizophrenia.
Medication involves the use of ‘antipsychotics’, which are meant to decrease the schizophrenia symptoms. Up to 3 in 10 people with schizophrenia may have a lasting recovery, and 1 in 5 people may show significant improvement.
Promoting awareness and understanding this condition will allow diagnosis and treatment to take place quicker. A healthy mind is a gift that should not be taken for granted. If you feel you are suffering from a mental disorder, seek help from a health professional immediately instead of fighting this battle alone.