Skip to main content

Schizophrenia: Symptoms, Types, Causes, Treatment, Medication

Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is one of the most feared and least understood mental disorders known today. This is an illness of the brain that has been recorded and dealt with by communities for generations, but there is still a lot about the causes of schizophrenia that scientists are still trying to uncover and understand.

In most circumstances, the condition will be diagnosed in men in their teen years and 20′s whereas in women the condition is diagnosed in their 20′s and 30′s.

Many assume that someone with paranoid schizophrenia disorder will be a mass murderer, child abuser, or something equally as scary. The truth is, many people with this disorder live normal lives and accomplish great things. These are the people with milder cases and the people who seek help and stay on their medications, so the symptoms of the disorder are controlled and greatly relieved.

schizophrenia-symptoms-types-causes-treatment-medication

What is Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a mental illness characterized by relapsing episodes of psychosis (Psychosis is an abnormal condition of the mind that results in difficulties determining what is real and what is not).

According to National Institute of Health, Schizophrenia is a brain disorder which is characterized by having strange thoughts, hallucinations, hearing voices and also having perceptions that are out of the ordinary.

Schizophrenia Symptoms

There are four basic symptoms of schizophrenia disorder, but not everyone suffering with this condition will have all four symptoms:
  1. Delusional thinking
  2. Hallucinations from any or all senses
  3. Strange behavior patterns
  4. Strange talking that is very difficult for normal people to understand
There are other symptoms of schizophrenia disorder, but these are the main four that really characterize this disorder. Those suffering from schizophrenia disorder will show at least one of these symptoms, even if they are not recognized readily by those in their daily life.

The strange behavior and speaking patterns are what may initially be noticed by people who come in contact with someone who suffers from schizophrenia disorder. Many people find it difficult to understand what someone with this disorder is talking about because they jump subjects at random and a lot of what they say may make no logical sense at all.

Their behavior may be very withdrawn and careless compared to what you would expect from a normal person. There may not be anything specifically that others can put a finger on, but they may describe the schizophrenic person as odd, strange or questionable.

The delusional thinking and hallucinations may have a lot to do with these strange behaviors and speech patterns. Someone with schizophrenic disorder can see, hear, smell and even hear things that no one else experiences. They are known to think others are following them, eavesdropping on them, or somehow are trying to seriously harm them.

These delusions lead to paranoid thinking and increased hallucinations as they are convinced that their life is in danger, others around them are a danger, and there is no real safe place in the world for them.

Types of Delusions in Schizophrenia

Those who have observed people suffering from schizophrenia will notice that sometimes they “talk to themselves”. Unlike the usual mumbling to themselves, they can sometimes be involved in vigorous discussions as though they were speaking to someone else. In most cases they are actually talking to someone only they can see. Someone invisible to everybody else. Technically, this is referred to as a delusion.

A delusion is simply a false perception of reality. In other words, it is observing, smelling, hearing or feeling, or thinking something which in reality does not exist. People suffering from schizophrenia are susceptible to delusions because the condition impairs their cognition. There are many types of delusions in schizophrenia. However, the ones most commonly observed are the following:

Persecutory Delusions

According to the DSM-IV this is the most common type of delusion experienced by schizophrenics. The basis of this delusion is the feeling of being targeted by someone or something. Schizophrenics with persecutory delusions feel they are being tracked, harmed, poisoned, harassed, maligned or blocked from pursuing long term goals. An example is a belief of being hunted down by the FBI or a Mafia Hitman; or being haunted by evil spirits intent on harming them. A person with this condition is often angry and can turn violent against a perceived agent of the persecutor.

Grandiose Delusions

A schizophrenic experiencing this type of delusion thinks that they are someone of extreme importance. They may imagine themselves to be a famous celebrity or an important political figure. Because of this belief, they always demand to be treated with the level of importance and respect that befits their grandiose status. A case in point is of a schizophrenic who believed he was the British Prime Minister; and always insisted on being addressed as “Your Excellency”.

Referential Delusions

This type of delusion is commonly experienced by paranoid schizophrenics. It is characterised by egocentric interpretation of information. A person experiencing this kind of delusion basically thinks all people’s words, gestures and actions are somehow directed towards them. An example is of a schizophrenic who was convinced that they were the focus of song lyrics, best-selling books and television news reports.

Religious Delusions

This type of delusion is characterised by the belief of a special relationship with God. The schizophrenic imagines that God has given them a special mission or supernatural powers. They may state that God talks directly to them and commands them to carry out certain actions. In some cases, the schizophrenics actually believe that they are God. People suffering from this condition become extremely upset when their “God-given” words or actions are questioned or opposed.

Somatic Delusions

This type of delusion involves an obsessive preoccupation with one’s body. Schizophrenics with this type of delusion often believe that they are suffering from some physical condition e.g. a tumor. However, they usually believe that the source of their malady is something that is medically impossible. A famous case was that of a woman who believed that her persistent stomach aches were caused by a serpent wound up inside her belly.

Control Delusions

This type of delusion is characterized by a belief that some outside force is in control of a person’s thoughts and actions. Sufferers of this condition often believe that their minds have been taken over by something outside them. They can claim that the person or thing controlling them is stealing their private thoughts, and projecting other thoughts into their minds. This condition can also lead someone to believe that their bodies are being manipulated for perform certain actions. A good example of this condition is the Navy Yard Shooter – Aaron Alexis – who believed that his mind was being controlled using low frequency electromagnetic waves.

This is the life of someone with schizophrenic disorder who is not being properly medicated. There are many who have milder forms of the disorder who may be able to carry on with life for a long time. Sometimes they will reach a point where they are no longer caring for their own physical hygiene and are unable to care for their families. They may not be paranoid and completely delusional, but they are also not completely able to care for themselves or anyone else properly.

Schizophrenia Types

Paranoid Schizophrenia

This condition is characterized by such symptoms as anger, violence, anxiety, auditory hallucinations, feeling of persecution as well as suicidal thoughts. The brains of these victims will continue holding these feelings no matter how much you try to convince them that they are not in danger. The patient will have delusions that there are people who are planning to harm them or their families and therefore they will spend a great deal of their time thinking about how they will protect themselves and their loved ones.

Catatonic Schizophrenia

This condition may be exhibited in two extreme behaviors which are catatonic excitement and catatonic stupor. Catatonic excitement is exhibited by hyperactivity whereby the patient will mimic sounds and movements in his surroundings. In catatonic stupor, the patient becomes inactive and all body movements stops. In other circumstances, the individual may assume bizarre limb movements, bizarre postures and also facial contortions.

Disorganized Schizophrenia

Also known as hebephrenia, disorganized schizophrenia is a condition which is expressed through illogical and incoherent behaviors and thoughts for example purposeless, agitated and disinhibited behaviors. According to psychiatrists, this is a severe form of schizophrenia where the individual is unable to perform his daily obligations such as taking a bath and cooking. Other people will find it difficult to comprehend what the patient is saying and this might make him angry and he might harm himself.

Undifferentiated Schizophrenia

If the patient is showing different symptoms which falls in more than one type of schizophrenia, then the condition is referred to as undifferentiated schizophrenia. A patient may show symptoms of one type of schizophrenia and then latter show another symptom that belongs to another type of schizophrenia. In this condition, diagnosis continues until the doctor is able to diagnose a specific type of the condition.

Schizoaffective Disorder

A patient suffering from this condition will show symptoms of both schizophrenia and affective disorder. Such an individual will exhibit symptoms such as delusions, hallucinations, suicidal thoughts and also depression or mania. There are experts who are indifferent about whether the condition should be classified as distinct disorder, mood disorder of schizophrenia disorder.

  Read more on Schizoaffective Disorder

Childhood Schizophrenia

This type of schizophrenia begins while the child is still very young. In most circumstances, the condition will begin before the child has attained the age of 10 years. When the condition strikes at this tender age, the child may not be able to perform normally in his entire life.

Residual Schizophrenia

This type occurs when the patient has overcome the severe symptoms of acute schizophrenia. The patient may still experience symptoms such as delusions and hallucinations but they are not as bad as with any other type of schizophrenia. Some patients of residual schizophrenia may be able to live normal lives where they work and take care of themselves while others will still need to be cared for.

Simple Schizophrenia

This can be can be considered to be the simplest form of this condition. It is exhibited by simple symptoms of schizophrenia that keeps on progressing as time moves on. These patients usually have no history of schizophrenia symptoms.

Schizophrenia Causes

There are a number of factors that have been attributed to the cause of this condition. These factors includes defective brain chemistry, old parents, problems in the uterus, subtle brain differences, heredity factors, extreme stress in adolescence years and also using mood altering drugs in teen years. There are several types of schizophrenia.

Schizophrenia Treatment

Treatment for schizophrenia involves using the right medication that will help to alleviate the symptoms. This is typically done with medication, but some lifestyle or natural treatments and therapies may be used as well to help some victims of the disorder lead a more normal life.

For some schizophrenia disorder victims, treatment is best delivered through an in-patient facility with skilled professionals who understand the disorder as much as is humanly possible today. These are the patients who could harm themselves or others due to their delusional thinking and paranoia.

Schizophrenia is a serious condition and it is important to take care of the patients and also to ensure that they receive appropriate medication. There are also a number of psychological interventions that could help to reduce the severity of the condition for example supported employment, cognitive remediation, assertive community treatment, cognitive behavioral therapy and also family therapy.

Schizophrenia Medication

Antipsychotic medications

There are many treatments of schizophrenia, these medications are called antipsychotic as they decrease psychotic symptoms intensity. They include:
  • risperidone
  • olanzapine
  • aripiprazole
  • asenapine
  • ziprasidone
  • quetiapine
  • lloperidone
  • paliperidone
  • lurasidone
This is the second-generation antipsychotic also known as the newer group of antipsychotic medication. They work quick compared to other psychiatric medication. However, they have some side effects, which include dizziness, sleepiness, weight gain and increased appetite. They are also associated with elevated blood sugar level, increased prolactin level and high blood lipid levels.

Older antipsychotic medication like the bupropion and haloperidol used to cause shakiness, muscle stiffness and tardive dyskinesia (uncoordinated muscle twitches). Health specialist should therefore monitor their patients in case of these side effects. However, a research that was done has proved that the first generation or older schizophrenia medication is just as effective as the newer generation treatments and there are no cases where patients stop using their medication because of the associated side effects. Not all the schizophrenia medication that can be used by adults can also be used to treat children suffering from schizophrenia, therefore caution should be taken.

Mood-stabilizer medications

They include:
  • divalproex
  • lithium
  • lamotrigine
  • carbamazepine
They are used to treat mood swings, which occur to people with diagnosable mood disorder together with psychotic symptom. An example is schizophrenia, depression and schizoaffective disorder. This medication take longer to work as compared to antipsychotic medications. Some of the Mood-stabilizer medications such as divalproex, carbamazepine and lithium may cause birth defects in pregnant women and they require monitoring of the medication blood levels.

Antidepressant medications

These primary medications are prescribed to someone suffering from depression. They can accompany schizophrenia. They include:

SSRI which affects the level of serotonin like fluoxetine, paroxetine, sertraline, escitalopram and citalopram combined with adrenergic/ serotonergic medication also known as SNRIs and they include duloxetine and venlafaxine and bupropion which affects dopamine levels

Despite its bad history, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) can also be used to treat people with schizophrenia and anyone who is not responding to psychosocial interventions and medication trials.

When dealing with pregnant mothers, a lot of care should be taken to avoid risking the life of the fetus. They should try to stabilize the patient as well as minimize any risk to the unborn baby. Some of the medications administered to patients may carry certain risk that can even be passed during breastfeeding, therefore careful monitoring should be taken to avoid any risk to the mother and fetus.

Comments

Other Posts

How to Build Self-Confidence & Improve Self-Esteem : 5 Ways

How to Build Self-Confidence & Improve Self-Esteem Self-Confidence Meaning Self Confidence is a belief on ones abilities. In the purest form it expresses how much belief you have in your own abilities, in any field. You can have great self confidence in your soccer abilities but when it comes to relationships, you are lost. So it varies on the field which we are examining. We all have our strong and weak sides, and that’s okay. The problem begins when we disregard and undervalue ourselves, and lose faith in ourselves. This is what you should focus on, when building self confidence. You should focus on your strong sides and remind yourself of the things you are proud of, of the things that you are very good at. When you focus on the things you are proud of, you start feeling great about yourself and you begin to acknowledge your advantages as well. This leads to strong sense of self-appreciation and confidence. How to Gain Self-Confidence: 5 Essential Ways Do you want

Quick Progressive Muscle Relaxation script

Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) is a stress management technique developed by Edmund Jacobson, Physical Therapist in early 1920s. According to Jacobson, since mental stress and anxiety accompanies muscular tension, one can reduce stress and anxiety  by learning to relax muscle tension.  Jacobson's Progressive Muscle Relaxation  ( JPMR ) technique (exercise/therapy) is still popular among modern physiotherapists as well as psychotherapists. Benefits of Progressive Muscle Relaxation: PMR for Anxiety & Sleep Progressive muscle relaxation or PMR, can be utilized to reach a deep state of calm, as maintenance in a relaxation program, or to help induce sleep. PMR can bring a multitude of benefits beyond short-term relaxation, ranging from relief for tension headaches, high blood pressure, insomnia (sleep problems) , digestive issues, stress reactions, anxiety (e.g. test anxiety or fear of flying), and other stress/anxiety related sympto

How to Deal with Depression Alone

How to Deal with Depression Depression leaves devastation in its wake, but fortunately there is something that can be done about it. At this day and age, people are more aware of the harmful impact that untreated depression can lead to. Modern advances have more or less minimized the recurrence of depression once identified and treated. Knowing how to deal with depression will definitely save a life, yours or a loved one’s. Depression occurs more commonly than we think, and has varying impact to a person’s life. Depending on the individual lifestyle, coping mechanism and personality, it could range from manageable to disastrous. Symptoms could also vary, and a depressed person may exhibit frequent emotional down-times manifested through crying. It may also affect sexual desire, alienation from family and friends, as well as difficulty in finding meaning in life. A person with depression is also disinterested in participating in group activities, and may end up neglecting personal an