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Schizophrenia is a severe, chronic disorder that disables a person’s brain affecting how they see the world, and has been affecting people throughout history. People suffering from this illness may hear voices that other normal people do not hear and they tend to believe that other people can read and control their minds and that they are plotting to harm them. This terrifies the people suffering from the disorders and may result to them withdrawing from the rest of the community or becoming extremely agitated. Schizophrenic people may not make sense of the things they talk about and may sit for long hours without talking to anyone or even moving. Sometimes they seem fine until they start talking about what is in their minds (Garmon, 2010).
Signs and symptoms
In some people, the disorder appears suddenly without any warning, but in most cases, it develops slowly with subtle signs and symptoms and a steady decline in normal functioning before the first severe episode. In the early phases of the disease, people seem emotionless, eccentric, reclusive and unmotivated. Such people start isolating themselves, neglecting themselves, speaking peculiar things and showing indifference to life in general. They may even start abandoning their activities and hobbies and their performances either at school or at work deteriorates.
As the disease progresses, the symptoms become clearer and clearer and the signs and symptoms can either be positive, negative cognitive. Positive symptoms are a reflection of a distortion or an excess in normal functions (Garmon, 2010). One of the positive functions is delusions where ones beliefs bases on reality and in most cases; they involve misinterpretation of experiences and perceptions. This is the most common symptom in schizophrenics. Secondly, positive symptom is hallucinations and involves hearing or seeing things that are not in existence. Hearing nonexistent voices is the most common type of hallucinations in schizophrenics. Thought disorder is the other positive symptoms and entails difficulties in organizing thoughts and speaking resulting in stopping speech mid-sentence or constructing sentences with meaningless words. Lastly is disorganized behavior characterized by unpredictable agitation or displaying childlike silliness.
Negative symptoms involve absence or diminishment of characteristics of normal functions. They may appear together with or without the positive symptoms and they include being emotionless, loss of interest in daily chores or activities, social withdrawal, neglect of personal cleanliness and hygiene and loss of motivation.
Cognitive symptoms entails problems associated with the thought processes and they are usually the most disabling for schizophrenics since they interfere with one’s ability to perform daily routines. These symptoms include difficulties paying attention, difficulties making sense of information, and memory problems (Garmon, 2010).
Symptoms in teenagers are similar to the ones in adults but the disorder maybe hard to recognize. This is because most of the symptoms are common during teenage years, for instance drop in school performance, withdrawal from friends and family, irritability and trouble sleeping. Teens are also less likely to develop delusions and visual hallucinations as compared to adults.
Effects of Schizophrenia on the brain
Schizophrenia is a disorder that affects the brain, by altering the brain form and chemistry to produce different behaviors. The alterations affect the I-function of individual resulting in loss of important functions. Schizophrenia results from basic organizational differences in a brain. The disorder causes alteration of pathways and digression of the neurotransmitters from the normal arrangement resulting in afflictions. Consequently, the neurotransmitters misfire resulting in chemical balance alteration in the brain, which causes behavioral problems. The disease also results in shortfall in cortical and sub-cortical cognitive processes.
Another adverse effect of the disorder on the brain of the person is enlarging the ventricles that supply the brain with blood resulting into further impairment ability. When the disease starts at fetal develops, it results in impaired development of the grey matter and its reduced presence results is minimal probable action by the nervous system, which explains the emotional flatness of a schizophrenic (Garmon, 2010). This disorder also impairs behavior since it hinders the brain from developing specific schemata, which are patterns that within the brain representing and controlling different functions. This affects social and cognitive development of an individual making them to respond inappropriately to certain social situations. In addition, such people suffer from delayed reaction time in some situations resulting in poor speech and visual memory. Individuals cannot interpret data quickly demonstrating a deficiency in their brainpower.
Schizophrenia disorder greatly affects the I-function and the brain at large causing the individual to develop differently from a normal person. There is a distinct deficit present since the victim is not aware of the surrounding and they are not able to process inputs to the same degree. Consequently, their outputs are not the expected responses. They are also not able to receive and interpret experiences with relation to prior ones, they treat each stimulus as new, and this generates a new output regardless of the prior output.
Treatment of Schizophrenia
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Since the causes of schizophrenia are still not known, available treatments focus on eliminating the symptoms. These treatments majorly take two forms: antipsychotic medications and different types of psychosocial treatments. Antipsychotic medications are useful in treating psychotic symptoms like breaks with reality and hallucinations. These include the first and the second-generation medications and should be taken until the doctor advices otherwise. When it is advisable to stop taking the medication, the process should be gradual and not sudden since this could have an impact on the individual (Kashima et-al, 2012).
Psychosocial treatments, on the other hand, entail helping patients who are already on antipsychotic medication. This assists them in dealing with everyday challenges such as self-care, communication difficulties, working, forming and maintaining relationships. Patients who receive this treatment have high chances of continuing with their medication, and are less likely to experience relapses and hospitalization. This treatment also involves rehabilitation where patients voluntarily attend vocational and social training to help them cope and function well in the society. Family education is also part of this treatment since after the discharge from hospitals; patients are under the care of their families to help them handle the patients appropriately. Cognitive behavioral therapy also forms part of this treatment and it focuses on behavior and thinking. This helps in dealing with symptoms that do not disappear even with medication like breaks with reality.
Treatment of schizophrenia raises several ethical issues due to its nature and concerns over the dignity and values of the people having the illness. One of the major ethical issues arises from disclosing half-truths to patients about their conditions. Telling the truth to a patient about his or her condition may make the patient never to return for treatments, but then the non-disclosure maybe disrespectful to a patients’ autonomy (Kashima et-al, 2012). Psychiatrists must, therefore, balance between different values so that they give priority to respecting patient’s autonomy in some cases and give priority to trying to benefit such patients medically as much as possible.
The culture in which a patient finds himself or herself into may affect the treatment and diagnosis of such patients. This disorder majorly affects how one responds to situations and mostly they consequence is usually negative. Such people are isolated from the society since they do not have acceptable behaviors. This makes diagnosis and treatment very hard when such people feel isolated. Moreover, the disease is associated with mental disorders and the society associates such people with violence and being out of control. This worsens the schizophrenic conditions as they feel alone and left out by the other members of the society. However, a society or a family that readily supports such people will influence faster diagnosis and recovery of schizophrenics when they start medication. Support and love is key to recovery.
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