Schizophrenia is a serious disorder of brain which interrupts with the way a person thinks, acts, expresses emotions & perceives reality. A person suffering from schizophrenia cannot tell what is real from what is imagined.
In people suffering from schizophrenia, a sudden change in personality and behaviour occurs, as a result, the sufferer loses touch with reality. This is known as a psychotic episode. Some people may have only one psychotic episode & some may have many episodes during a lifetime but lead relatively normal lives between episodes.
Symptoms of Schizophrenia
- Delusions: False beliefs that are not based in reality.
- Hallucinations: This involve seeing or hearing things that don’t exist.
- Disorganized thinking & speech: Effective communication can be impaired & speech may include putting together meaningless words that can’t be understood.
- Catatonia: It is a condition in which the person becomes physically fixed in a single position for a very long duration.
- Unable to make decisions.
- Trouble focusing.
- Repeating movements or gestures.
- Quickly shifting from one thought to the next without any logical connections between the two.
- Withdrawal from family, friends, and social activities.
- Poor hygiene.
Diagnosis of Schizophrenia
- The doctor takes the patient’s medical history, history of mental illness in the family and performs a physical exam.
- MRI of the brain.
- CT scan.
- Psychiatric evaluation- The doctor asks for about thoughts, moods, delusions, hallucinations and potential for violence or suicide.
Treatment options for Schizophrenia
- Antipsychotic medications are the most commonly prescribed drugs. These drugs effectively manage signs and symptoms at the lowest possible dose.
- Second-generation medications is a new type of medication & are highly recommended because they cause less serious side effects.
Psychosocial interventions includes:
- Individual therapy helps to cope with stress and identify early warning signs of relapse.
- Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) helps the person to change their thinking and behaviour. A therapist teaches to deal with voices and hallucinations.
- Cognitive enhancement therapy (CET) is also called cognitive remediation & teaches people how to better recognize social cues, or triggers and improve their attention, memory, and ability to organize their thoughts.
Psychosocial Therapy includes:
- Social skills training focuses on improving communication and social interactions.
- Rehabilitation include job counselling, problem-solving support and education in money management.
- Family education
- Coordinated specialty care (CSC) is for people experiencing an episode of psychosis for the first time.
- Assertive community treatment (ACT) offers highly personalized services which helps people with schizophrenia to face the life’s daily challenges.
- Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)- Electrodes are attached to the patient’s scalp & small electric shock are send to the brain. In this procedure the patient is under the influence of anaesthesia. Shock treatment causes a controlled seizure. It can help when medications no longer work or in those cases when severe depression or catatonia makes treating the illness difficult.