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Schizophrenia: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Prevention

By Dr. Madhusudan Singh Solanki in Mental Health And Behavioural Sciences , Psychiatrist

May 24 , 2022 | 2 min read

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Schizophrenia is a serious mental health disorder that afflicts almost 1% of population that means one out of every 100 people will develop schizophrenia in their lifetime.

Schizophrenia affects the way a person thinks feels and behaves and the affected person’s perception of reality changes and they are often unaware of that.  

Causes of schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a complex illness and multiple factors can contribute to its development. Genetic and biological factors play a significant role but there is no single gene responsible for causing schizophrenia. Apart from that other factors like trauma and abuse in childhood, stressful life events, early and prolonged drug use like cannabis (weed, hesh, marijuana) or other drugs can also contribute or predispose.

Symptoms of schizophrenia

Delusions- Delusions are fixed, false, firm beliefs which exist despite evidence to the contrary . For eg a person believing people are out there to harm him/her or people are following/talking about him/her, a conspiracy is going on against the person while in reality there is no evidence of anything like this happening. There can also be bizarre delusions (something that never happens in real life) like aliens are controlling someone or that someone’s thoughts are being broadcasted on TV etc

Hallucinations—hallucinations are perceptions without stimuli. That means a person is hearing or seeing things when nothing is there. In schizophrenia auditory hallucinations are most commonly seen while visual and other hallucinations can also be there

Changes in  behaviour or disorganized behaviour  like impaired self care, not taking bath for weeks, wearing odd clothes which are inappropriate to the weather, doing odd behaviours like gesturing or staring, purposeless behaviour, or extreme unpredictable and inappropriate emotional reactions (like laughing after a trauma).

Changes in speech or disorganized speech- like repetition of words and phrases, talking to people who are not there, inventing new words (neologism), irrelevant or incoherent speech, jumbled speech (word salad)

Negative symptoms—a person suffering from schizophrenia may also stop doing certain things which normally people do when they are healthy. For example withdrawing from social life, lack of pleasure in things, impairment in social interaction and communication, lack of emotional expression and amotivation.


Treatment 

Mainstay of treatment of schizophrenia are medicines and psychosocial therapy.
Treatment usually lasts longer and may be life long as schizophrenia is often a chronic long lasting condition.

Prevention 

Unfortunately there is no proven way to prevent schizophrenia but awareness and seeking help early can help in timely diagnosis and management which can improve its prognosis.

If you are aware that schizophrenia runs in your family then Avoid substance like alcohol or drugs as they increase the risk Seek help if you are going through any traumatic or stressful life situation Keep a healthy lifestyle like proper sleep and nutrition, exercise, nurture your hobbies, invest time in your relationships and spend time with loved ones Learn to manage stress And talk to a psychiatrist if you experience the above mentioned symptoms as early as possible.