Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that's characterized by hallucinations, paranoia, and social withdrawal. Controversies still exist on the real cause of the disease with some scientists claiming that genes and early environment are possible causes while others claim that the structure and the chemical reactions in the brain contribute to the disorder. Diagnosis have also sparked a lot of controversies with some people claiming that a lot needs to be done so as to clearly give convincing and distinctive symptoms without mistaking for another disorder. Treatment of the disorder is not thorough since it's biased on symptoms reduction than eliminating the true cause.Causes of schizophrenia
The real cause of schizophrenia has not been pinpointed so far. However there are several theories that have been put forward to try and explain its development. One of the theories put forward so far is that schizophrenia may be caused by one's genes and also the environment surrounding a person (Shershow, 1978). Although the illness occurs in only 1 percent of the entire population, it has been found that the disease affects 10 percent of people with an ailing very close relative. In cases where a first degree relative had the disease, chances were high for another person in the family to also suffer from schizophrenia. In identical twins with one of them having the disease, the chance of the second ne getting the disease is very high. In fact, there lays a 40-65 percent chance of suffering from the illness (Cardno, & Gottesman, 2000)Though no gene causes the disease (Harrison, & Weinberger, 2005), the genes that people inherit increases the risks of getting the disorder. From several studies, it has been found that people having schizophrenia have higher chances of having some rare gene mutations. These differences in gene formations might be the inhibitors of brain development and hence schizophrenia. The environment through which one grows in may contribute to the development of schizophrenia. For the brain to develop in the correct way, good conditions for growth are important. Hence altering these conditions like improper feeding by the mother, sickness during pregnancy or problems during birth may result to brain impairment.Other than the gene theory, scientists think that the imbalance in the complex, interconnected chemical reactions of the brain may contribute to schizophrenia. These chemical reactions involving neurotransmitters dopamine and glutamine, the substances that allow brain cells to communicate with each other, are believed to determine the structure of the brain and its functionality as a whole (Beck, , Rector, Stolar. & Grant, 2008). People with schizophrenia have been found to have a slight difference in their brain structure compared to healthy people. These differences, like the sizes of ventricles and gray matter shows that schizophrenia is determined by the overall brain development since conception rather than the inherited genes. This shows that the main cause of schizophrenia has not been fully determined. Its development can only be based on several theories that have not been fully proved.
The symptoms of schizophrenia may be classified as either positive or negative. Despite schizophrenia being a mental disorder, some patients show some symptoms that are not seen in normal, healthy people. These signs include hallucinations, delusions and thought disorders. Hallucination is the ability of a person to see, hear and communicate with voices not audible to a normal person. These voices direct the patient on what to say and do. Delusions on the other hand are new untrue beliefs that the patient adapts to and holds on to. Attempts to change patients' beliefs bear no fruits since patients believe that some other powerful being is communicating with them. They may even think that they are someone else like a famous historical figure. Thought disorder is an illogical way of reasoning. A person with thought disorder cannot make logical connections of ideas. Neologism is also common whereby one starts to utter words with no meaning.The negative symptoms are harder to recognize than the positive symptoms. This is because the negative symptoms are associated with emotions and the behaviors of a person. They include lacking pressure in the day to day life. The flat effect where by a person speaks in a dull and monotonous voice without showing any facial expression. A person with the negative symptoms lacks the ability to start and sustain an activity and speaks very little even when forced to interact (Gottesman, Shields, & Hanson 1982). A person having schizophrenia lacks the ability to understand and execute information and looses memory in a very short interval.
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However, there are several other disorders that share these symptoms. The psychotic symptoms are common in other mental disorders like bipolar disorder, drugs and substance abuse and the borderline personality disorder. Delusions are common in other mental disorders and so is the social withdrawal. These symptoms may also be caused by other medical illnesses that may infect the brain like HIV infections, epilepsy, STDs and other systemic infections. This has thus sparked another wave of controversy from mental health professionals who argue that some terms used to define the symptoms are incomplete like delusions. They feel that delusion is neither "necessarily fixed, nor false, nor involve the presence of incontrovertible evidence" (Ghaemi, 1999)Although it's expected that hallucinating and delusional individuals have a high possibility of igniting violence, research has it that in most cases than not people having schizophrenia are usually victims of both physical and emotional abuse (Brekke, Prindle, Bae, & Long, 2001 )Since the cause of schizophrenia is still unknown, then treatment is focused on eradicating the symptoms. A patient may be treated using antipsychotic or psychosocial medications. Antipsychotic medications comprise pills or liquid medicines that are administered to a patient so as to reduce hallucinations, delusions and restlessness. They are meant to reduce these symptoms although they don't fully cure the disorder. Due to lack of a concrete cause, the administering of these drugs cannot be relied on since it's hard to tell how a patient will respond to them (Silverstein, Spaulding, & Menditto, 2006). Some of the people with this disorder respond fairly well to the antipsychotic medications with their symptoms going away in several days. In others though, several medications have to be tried so as to determine the one that works. The psychosocial treatments on the other hand are meant to try and improve on the behavioral impairments that are manifested in schizophrenia cases. The treatments are meant to improve on several areas like difficulty in communication, relationships and performing some activities. These treatments put emphasis on educating the patients about the disorder and the best ways to care and manage this condition. Also the treatment includes rehabilitation programs which may include job counseling and training, money management and self reliance. Since substance and drug abuse co occurs with this disorder, patients using drugs are treated using the psychosocial method so as to increase the chances of complete recovery.Since the true cause of the disorder has not been established, dealing with schizophrenia has proved quite difficult. The medical professionals should try and come up with a true diagnosis as well as perform a comprehensive research on the true cause of the disorder. This will change the treatment approach from eradicating the symptoms to eradicating the cause of the disorder. Proper advice on the ways of preventing would then be possible to give. Also the community should be educated on how to live with those people having schizophrenia so as to reduce stigmatization and abuse.