What is Schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia is a severe and chronic mental disorder that impacts how a person feels, thinks and behaves. It is a very serious disorder which impacts a person’s ability to distinguish between what is imaginary and what is real. Patients suffering from Schizophrenia are withdrawn or unresponsive, and it is difficult for them to express normal emotions in social situations.
Contrary to Common myths Schizophrenia is nothing like Multiple Personality or Split Personality Disorder. Most of the Schizophrenic patients do not pose dangers to people around them and are not violent. The symptoms of different schizophrenic patients are different. Contrary to common perceptions Schizophrenia is not caused as a result of poor parenting, childhood experiences and lack of willpower.
What are the symptoms of Schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia symptoms start showing up between the ages of 16 to 30. In some of the cases, children have Schizophrenia too. Schizophrenia symptoms are of three types namely positive symptoms, negative symptoms, and cognitive symptoms.
Positive Schizophrenia Symptoms are symptoms that are psychotic in nature and are not usually seen in a healthy person. All positive symptoms involve losing touch with reality. Some of the positive symptoms seen in patients with Schizophrenia include
• Hallucinations: Seeing, hearing, feeling smelling or tasting something that does not actually exist. It is basically an actual perception of something that does not exist. Usually, schizophrenic patients experience hearing multiple imaginary voices that comment or command the individual to act in a certain way.
• Delusions: Delusions are false ideas that seem real to the patient even though strong evidence exists that they don’t. Some patients think they are famous social figures, some think that someone is trying to spy on them.
• Disorganized Behavior: Schizophrenic patients experience behaviors like unprovoked and inappropriate outbursts, uninhibited and impulsive actions. Patients have problems with hygiene or selecting appropriate clothes as per the weather. Patients may feel agitated, tense, and anxious without any apparent reason.
• Disordered Thinking and Speech: Losing thought during conversations, giving answers that are not related to the questions, jumping from one topic to another without apparent logical reasons are some of the actions that portray Disordered Thinking in affected patients.
Disordered Speech includes actions like Individuals creating their own sounds and words that do not actually exist and doesn’t make sense. They may keep repeating words and ideas without a reason and may speak a lot without getting to the point and providing irrelevant and unnecessary details.
Negative Schizophrenia Symptoms are related to disturbances to normal behaviors and emotions. Some of the common and strong negative symptoms portrayed by patients suffering from Schizophrenia include
• Affective Flattening: This is a very common symptom seen in schizophrenic patients. Patients with this symptom portray relatively unresponsive and immobile facial expressions. This is usually accompanied by poor eye contact and reduced body movement and body language.
• Alogia: Alogia is trouble with speaking due to mental defect. Patients affected with Schizophrenia demonstrate a reduction in verbal fluency and total speech output. Sometimes the patients struggle even with giving brief answers to questions.
• Avolition: Avolition refers to a lack of desire or will to take part in activities. This also involves loss of motivation. Patients demonstrate avolition in different ways. Some patients portray indifference towards their surroundings and sit still for long periods of time. Some patients display a lack of interest in social activities or work.
Cognitive Schizophrenia Symptoms are subtle for some and severe for others. Some of the cognitive symptoms commonly seen include
• Dementia: Schizophrenia in patients causes Dementia. Dementia affects that part of the brain that is used for memory, language, learning, decision making, thinking, and reasoning.
• Reduced Executive Functioning: People affected by Schizophrenia experience reduced executive functioning. This means they have trouble in paying adequate attention, manage time, plan and organize, switch focus and remember details. Affected patients have problems in maintaining relationships and doing things independently. Day to day functioning becomes difficult for affected people.
• Attention Deficit: Schizophrenic patients experience difficulty in focusing and paying attention.
Schizophrenia cannot be cured but a careful diagnosis and lifelong treatment can help the impacted patients to enhance the quality of their life. Constant care and support are extremely integral to help a Schizophrenic patient survive and live a better life.