Schizophrenia

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Schizophrenia

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

Medications

  • 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.

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