Schizophrenia Clinical Management: Your Path To Real Mental Strength

Schizophrenia is a chronic, severe, and disabling brain disorder.

Define: Schizophrenia

  • People suffering from schizophrenia often hear voices in an absence of a stimulus or have false beliefs known as delusions.
  • People suffering from schizophrenia might have difficulty in differentiating reality from the delusions and hallucinations.
  • Expressing a normal range of emotions may be difficult for them.
  • Patients aren’t often violent and almost never pose any danger to anyone.
  • Schizophrenia does not develop due to childhood experiences or poor upbringing or even an absence of willpower.

Schizophrenia and the loss of brain cells

New research by Yale University has revealed that brain loss happens due to neuroinflammation causing psychotic episodes. The condition of the patients improves with medications. Their efficacy is well-documented since patients may suffer relapses of the positive symptoms of schizophrenia-like delusions and hallucinations.

Types of schizophrenia

  • Paranoid schizophrenia — in this type of schizophrenia, patients may believe that a person or agency may be taking special interest in them, that they are being followed or watched and someone wants to harm them.
  • Disorganized schizophrenia — Speech, behaviour and thoughts in this sort of disorder are often incoherent, disorganized and bizarre.
  • Catatonic schizophrenia — Catatonic features include, staying silent and maintaining abnormal postures for hours. This can be severe enough to lead to exhaustion and death.
  • Residual schizophrenia — Though these patients don’t necessarily suffer from hallucinations or delusions, yet they have some leftover symptoms of schizophrenia.
  • Schizoaffective disorder — Psychiatric symptoms of schizoaffective disorder are a combination of schizophrenia and a major mood disorder like depression or bipolar disorder.

Causes

Heredity and Environmental

  • Scientists recognize that schizophrenia tends to run in families. Less than 1 percent of the population develops schizophrenia. But, 10 percent of the people with first-degree relation to patients suffering from schizophrenia do report similar symptoms. For example, parents, brothers or sisters. Even people having second-degree relation like aunts, uncles, cousins or grandparents are also at significant risk of developing the condition than the general population.
  • Risk of schizophrenia is at its highest in case of identical twins as compared to the general population.
  • Scientists believe that certain genes increase the risk of schizophrenia. Studies suggest that patients suffering from schizophrenia are at increased rates of rare genetic mutations. These mutations probably hamper normal brain development in multiple ways with minor effects.
  • To scientists, both genes and environmental aspects of a person is necessary to develop schizophrenia. Therefore, several environmental factors do play a role for the psychiatric disorder to manifest in a healthy person. For example, viral infections, stressful situations; prenatal (before birth) and postnatal (after birth) malnutrition, besides other factors like psychosocial ones.

Chemistry

  • Chemical imbalances of neurotransmitters (serotonin and dopamine) are found in patients. Chemical imbalances affect behaviour and emotional processing leading to symptoms.
  • Hallucinations or delusions can happen because of the problems in processing various sights, smells, sounds, and tastes. Early warning of schizophrenia

Patients hear or see that are not there

  • They constantly feel followed and monitored
  • They may have a strange or absurd way of speaking or writing
  • They may show abnormal body posture
  • Their emotions may be dulled or they may show a minimal emotional range
  • Due to schizophrenia, their academic or work performance often suffers
  • Personal hygiene and appearance of the patients often undergoes a significant decline

Positive symptoms

  • Delusions or false fixed beliefs
  • Hallucinations or to see, feel, taste, hear or smell something that is not there
  • Disorganized thoughts and speech

Negative symptoms

  • Social isolation
  • Extreme apathy or indifference
  • Lack of motivation or initiative
  • Emotional dormancy

Recovery and Rehabilitation

  • Psychosocial Rehabilitation Programs may help people regain their skills like employability, cooking, cleaning, budgeting, shopping, socializing, problem solving, and stress management.
  • Through housing programs, a range of support and supervision such as 24 hours supervised living support may be provided an on-need basis.
  • Many employment programs can help mentally-ill people to get employed or to gain skills that are necessary to re-enter the workforce.
  • Therapy or counseling including different types of “talk” therapy, both in-person and in groups can help the patients and their family members to understand the illness better and share their concerns.

Antipsychotic medications

  • Traditional antipsychotics may effectively control the “positive” symptoms of schizophrenia-like hallucinations and delusions.
  • New Generation (also called atypical) antipsychotics can treat both the positive and negative symptoms of schizophrenia and with fewer side effects.

Antipsychotic medications

Example of typical antipsychotics-

  • Chlorpromazine (Thorazine)
  • Haloperidol (Haldol)
  • Perphenazine (Etrafon, Trilafon)
  • Fluphenazine (Prolixin).

Example of atypical antipsychotic are:

  • Risperidone (Risperdal)
  • Olanzapine (Zyprexa)
  • Quetiapine (Seroquel)
  • Ziprasidone (Geodon)
  • Aripiprazole (Abilify)
  • Paliperidone (Invega).

Side effects

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness when changing positions
  • Blurred vision
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Sensitivity to the sun
  • Skin rashes
  • Menstrual problems for women
  • Rigidity
  • Persistent muscle spasms
  • Tremors
  • Restlessness
  • Weight gain
  • Cholesterol problems
  • Blood sugar changes

Patient support

  • Greater awareness may motivate the patient to follow the treatment plan and to combat a mental disorder as severe as schizophrenia.
  • Educating family members, friends, and caregivers to understand the patient’s mental condition can be of great help.
  • Patients can participate in a support group with other people suffering from schizophrenia can interact with each other.
  • Patients should be taught ways to beat stress and relax. There are many stress management techniques like yoga, tai chi or meditation.

Prevention

  • There’s no surefire way to prevent schizophrenia.
  • Early onset of treatment can keep the symptoms under control and avoid serious complications later on.
  • Persistent treatment can help to prevent worsening of the patient’s symptoms.

Though long-term treatment may be required, yet the outlook for people with schizophrenia isn’t hopeless. Many patients can enjoy life and function normally within their families and communities through proper treatment.

Schizophrenia FAQs

No, schizophrenia is not contagious. It is a mental disorder resulting from genetic, environmental, and brain chemistry factors.

Yes, many people with schizophrenia can live independently with the proper treatment and support.

There is no known way to prevent schizophrenia, but early detection and treatment can help manage symptoms and improve quality of life.

Yes, many people with schizophrenia can work with the proper treatment and support. However, some may need to adjust their work environment or schedule.

Schizophrenia is uncommon, affecting about 1% of the population worldwide. It usually develops in people in their late teens or early 20s, but it can occur at any age.

Men and women are equally affected by schizophrenia. All ethnic groups around the world experience it at roughly the same rates. Symptoms, including hallucinations and delusions, typically begin between the ages of 16 and 30.

Males typically begin to exhibit symptoms earlier than women do. Schizophrenia typically does not strike after the age of 45. Though it is uncommon for youngsters to develop schizophrenia, knowledge of this condition is growing.

The diagnosis of schizophrenia in teenagers might be challenging. This is because early warning signals may include characteristics that teens frequently exhibit, such as changes in friends, declining grades, sleep issues, and irritability.

Schizophrenia patients may have a warped perspective of their surroundings. They cannot experience reality when they see or smell things, making everyday items seem strange or frightening. Also, those with schizophrenia may be more susceptible to distractions like light and color.

  • Ask your doctor these questions about schizophrenia:
  • Is there another ailment that might be contributing to or exacerbating my symptoms of schizophrenia?
  • How soon will I feel better after taking medication?
  • How likely is it that the symptoms will go away?
  • Is there any side effect of the medicine?

Here are some resources that can help you find treatment nearby:

  • Local mental health clinics: Most communities have mental health clinics in Los Altos, Los Angeles, Sacramento, Anaheim, San Francisco, Ontario, and Rancho Santa Margarita that provide treatment for various mental health conditions, including schizophrenia.
  • You can find a clinic near you by searching online or contacting your local health department.
  • Private mental health providers: You can also seek a private mental health provider, such as a psychiatrist or therapist specializing in schizophrenia treatment. You can search for providers in your area online or through your health insurance provider.
  • Community support programs: Many communities have support programs for people with schizophrenia and their families, such as support groups and educational programs. These programs can be a valuable resource for finding treatment and connecting with others who are going through similar experiences.
  • Hospitals: If someone is experiencing severe symptoms or a crisis, they may need to be admitted to a hospital for treatment. You can find hospitals in your area specializing in mental health treatment by searching online or contacting your local health department.
  • National mental health hotlines: Several national mental health hotlines can provide information and referrals for schizophrenia treatment. These include the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) helpline at 1-800-662-HELP.

It is important to remember that seeking treatment for schizophrenia is a personal decision, and finding the proper treatment and provider may take time. Working closely with a mental health professional to develop an individualized treatment plan is also essential.

Best psychiatrists to keep Schizophrenia under control

Dr. Joann Mundin, MD Psychiatrist

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Dr. Barry Stein, MD, Ph.D. Psychiatrist

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