Many people suffer from schizophrenia every day yet most people don’t know that there are ways to alleviate the symptoms with just a few changes. The first step is to even figure out whether you have schizophrenia or something completely different by looking for tell-tale warning signs of schizophrenia.
Schizophrenia is something that impacts people from all over the world. It can greatly affect a person’s thinking, emotions, or speech patterns in a way that make it difficult to navigate a healthy social life.
It is estimated that that around .33% to .75% of people just in the United States suffer from Schizophrenia. Not only does it influence the person with the condition, but it also impacts people around them.
Although most symptoms begin to show up from the late teens to 20s, signs can appear even younger than that. Children with schizophrenia may begin displaying abnormal behavior early in their lives before more serious signs manifest.
Schizophrenia is something that will live with that person for the rest of their lives. While it is not curable, there are a variety of medications that can help lessen symptoms and the severity of episodes.
List of Symptoms
There are a range of symptoms that accompany those with schizophrenia, with several being much more pronounced. Among the things to watch out for are:
• Delusions: The person believes something that is not based in reality
• Hallucinations: The person is seeing or hearing things that aren’t there
• Confusion: The person appears disorganized in both thinking and communication
• Loss of Motivation: The person begins to withdraw from others and stops participating in activities they normally take part in
• Lack of Concentration: The person is unable to function effectively at tasks, such as keeping grades up at school
In addition, people with schizophrenia may appear to be irritable or anxious. For more detail, read below for descriptions of the bigger symptoms.
A delusion can be much more than just believing a single thing that isn’t true. Examples of this are thinking that they are much more important or famous than they really are, that someone is in love with them, or someone is trying to manipulate their actions from afar. These thoughts are made up of a whole web of beliefs and can cause the person to act out erratically.
While some assume hallucinations are only visual, people with schizophrenia can experience any range of false sensations. These include hearing, smell, or taste.
Thoughts and communication can appear to be highly disorganized. Conversation might seem random, or they’ll answer a question with something entirely unrelated. In some cases, the person will use words that don’t mean anything.
Loss of Motivation
This includes normal everyday activities such as self-care or attending to hygiene. In some cases, a person might not even move or communicate with anyone, choosing to isolate themselves completely.
Other Things to Watch For
Someone with schizophrenia may not appear to show any emotions at all. They can also seem aloof and refuse to make eye contact, or appear detached when spoken to. When responding, they may speak in monotone.
What’s important to remember is that many people who display these symptoms do not realize that anything is wrong. Because of this, it can be difficult to convince someone to get help. They may also have delusions that treatment or medical professionals will try to hurt them.
Causes of Schizophrenia
Although the exact causes of Schizophrenia are unknown, research has shown the following may be big factors:
One of the biggest risks is if someone in the family has schizophrenia. If a parent or sibling has been diagnosed, there may be a bigger chance of that individual displaying symptoms as well.
Chemical Changes in Brain
Researchers believe that an imbalance of neurotransmitters can play a part into the development of schizophrenia. These are a group of chemicals that include things like dopamine and serotonin.
A number of outside factors are thought to be causes. These include:
• Trauma during birth
• Complications during pregnancy
• Trauma during childhood
• Viral infections
In addition, drug misuse and stress are believed to be able to trigger symptoms even if they didn’t cause them in the first place.
There’s no single diagnostic test in the traditional sense for schizophrenia. Instead, a doctor has to examine a myriad of factors including medical history and observation of one’s behavior.
They may also test for other conditions to rule them out, such as bipolar disorder or a tumor. Because schizophrenia shares symptoms with other disorders, it’s important to consider those options.
As previously mentioned, there is no cure for schizophrenia. Symptoms can be managed through different treatments. These include:
• Antipsychotic Medication: These can be taken orally or with injections. Injections are normally spaced out in longer periods, and also last longer.
• Counseling: A trained professional can help a patient cope and live with symptoms.
• Other Special Care: Multiple treatments can be combined in order to try to achieve a greater effect, and can involve the assistance of family or friends.
What if schizophrenia is not treated?
Research and observation have shown that people who do not get treated are more likely to hurt themselves and those around them. During a study in 2015, it was shown that individuals who did not seek any help at all had a tendency to:
• Be homeless
• Have less family and friends around them
• Be unmarried
• More susceptible to other illnesses
• Unable to communicate with others
• Live alone
In addition, people who go through treatment are around two times as likely to go into partial or complete remission. This is why it’s important to get treatment for someone suffering from schizophrenia.
Being armed with the right knowledge is very important for people at risk and those around them. Accepting help and treatment is only a single step in the lifelong journey that is living with schizophrenia.
Friends and family that care for an individual can help by learning what can trigger an episode and help a patient keep up on treatments. Remember, because the lack of motivation is a symptom, people with schizophrenia may grow disinterested in adhering to a specific regimen.
By supporting those around us that suffer from schizophrenia, we can help them navigate a more fulfilling life. It can also help them eventually see symptoms go into remission.