?Schizophrenia is a mental health condition that often goes undetected or many times misdiagnosed with other mental health issues. It is one of the most disabling and emotionally devastating illnesses around. Because of its recent discovery in 2009, much is not known about this illness. Like many other diseases, schizophrenia is hereditary. It is more common than not; nearly one percent to one and a half percent of the U. S. population has been diagnosed with this disease during some point in their life (Weill College of Medicine at Cornell University).
The most devastating part is that there is no cure for this disease, the good news is that there is treatable medicine that is now available. Schizophrenia is not a multiple personality disorder like many believe. Contrary to common belief people who take medicine for schizophrenia are able to live normal fulfilling lives. The word “schizophrenia” is less than 100 years old. However, the disease was first identified as a discrete mental illness by Dr. Emile Kraepelin, in 1887 and the illness itself is generally believed to have accompanied mankind throughout history.
A recent study into the ancient Greek and Roman literature (Karolinska Institute, Department of Clinical Neuroscience) showed that although the general population probably had an awareness of psychotic disorders, there was no condition that would meet the modern diagnostic criteria for schizophrenia in these societies. At one point, all people who were considered “abnormal,” whether due to mental illness, mental retardation, or physical deformities, were largely treated the same.
Early theories supposed that mental disorders were caused by evil possession of the body, and the appropriate treatment was then exorcising these demons, through various means, ranging from innocuous treatments, such as exposing the patient to certain types of music, to dangerous and sometimes deadly means, such as releasing the evil spirits by drilling holes in the patient’s skull (Karolinska Institute, Department of Clinical Neuroscience). The word “schizophrenia” has Greek roots.
Schizo (split) and phrene (mind) to describe the fragmented thinking of people with the disorder. His term was not meant to convey the idea of split or multiple personality, a common misunderstanding by the public at large. Since Emile Kraepelin’s time, the definition of schizophrenia has continued to change, as scientists attempt to more accurately delineate the different types of mental diseases. Without knowing the exact causes of these diseases, scientists can only base their classifications on the observation that some symptoms tend to occur together.
Kraepelin subdivided schizophrenia into categories, based on prominent symptoms and prognoses. Over the years, those working in this field have continued to attempt to classify types of schizophrenia. Five types were delineated in the DSM-IV: disorganized, catatonic, paranoid, residual, and undifferentiated. The first three categories were originally proposed by Kraepelin. Surprisingly, Schizophrenia subtypes have been dumped out of the modern DSM-5 because of there “limited diagnostic stability, low reliability, and poor validity,” according to APA.
The APA also justified the removal of schizophrenia subtype from the DSM-5 because “they didn’t appear to help with providing better targeted treatment, or predicting treatment response “(American Psychiatric Assocation 2013, page 8). ”Symptoms of schizophrenia vary with behavior changes, which may occur suddenly, social withdrawal, depersonalization, loss of appetite, loss of hygiene, delusion, hallucination, and disorganized speech. A person with schizophrenia may not have any outward appearance of being ill. In many cases, the illness may be more apparent, causing bizarre behaviors.
For example, a person with schizophrenia may wear aluminum foil in the belief that it will stop one’s thoughts from being broadcast and protect against malicious waves entering the brain. People with schizophrenia vary widely in their behavior as they struggle with an illness beyond their control. In active stages, those affected may ramble in illogical sentences or react with uncontrolled anger or violence to a perceived threat. People with schizophrenia may also experience relatively passive phases of the illness in which they seem to lack personality, movement, and emotion (also called a flat affect).
People with schizophrenia may alternate in these extremes. Their behavior may or may not be predictable. The causes of schizophrenia are not fully known. However, it appears that schizophrenia usually results from a complex interaction between genetic and environmental factors. Schizophrenia has a strong hereditary component. Individuals with a first-degree relative (parent or sibling) who has schizophrenia have a 10 percent chance of developing the disorder, as opposed to the 1% percent chance of the general population.
But, schizophrenia is only influenced by genetics, not determined by it. While schizophrenia runs in families, about 60% of schizophrenics have no family members with the disorder (University of Maryland Medical Center). Furthermore, individuals who are genetically predisposed to schizophrenia don’t always develop the disease, which shows that biology is not destiny. As for the environmental factors involved, more and 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 the body’s production of the hormone cortisol. Research points to several stress-inducing environmental factors that may be involved in schizophrenia, include prenatal exposes to a viral infection, low oxygen levels during birth, exposure to a virus during infancy, early parental loss or separation, and physical or sexual abuse in childhood (University of Maryland Medical Center). Schizophrenia is a chronic condition that requires lifelong treatment, even when symptoms have subsided.
Treatment with medications and psychosocial therapy can help manage the condition. During crisis periods or times of severe symptoms, hospitalization may be necessary to ensure safety, proper nutrition, adequate sleep and basic hygiene. A psychiatrist experienced in treating schizophrenia usually guides treatment. The treatment team also may include psychologists, social workers and psychiatric nurses and possibly a case manager to coordinate care. The full-team approach may be available in clinics with expertise in schizophrenia treatment.
In conclusion, medications are the cornerstone of schizophrenia treatment. Medications for schizophrenia can cause serious but rare side effects, people with schizophrenia may be reluctant to take it, but it’s an important element needed to live a semi normal life. Life with Schizophrenia is not an easy life, especially if those affected don’t get the proper diagnosis and treatment. In order to ensure people get proper diagnosis they must be aware, in order to be aware more needs to be known about this illness.