Schizophrenia is a disorder that shows its symptoms in the late teens to early 20s. You hear voices, see things that aren't there, believe others are after you, which makes you paranoid. Schizophrenia is a very serious disorder, requiring medications and psychotherapy - which, for many people, can greatly improve quality of life.
1 AnswerHallucinations are caused by a variety of triggers and do not necessarily indicate that someone has schizophrenia. A hallucination occurs when someone's sense of reality is distorted, and the individual has trouble identifying what is real. The most common hallucination that people experience is hearing voices that are not there. Other hallucinations include hearing sounds, feeling things, seeing things, or smelling things that are not real. Some illegal drugs can cause people to hallucinate, as can fevers and other severe illnesses. Epilepsy, narcolepsy, and dementia can cause hallucinations too. Even though hallucinations don't always indicate a severe mental illness such as schizophrenia, people should seek help if they start to perceive that imaginary things are real.
1 AnswerFamily therapy is a resource for family members of people with schizophrenia. This form of therapy can be very helpful in educating all family members about the illness. In family therapy groups, family members can show support for their loved one diagnosed with schizophrenia. Support from others can play a big part of the healing process for people living with schizophrenia. The National Institute on Mental Health offers a resource called Family-to-Family that helps many people nationwide. This group is available in most states in the United States and is offered in multiple languages. Family-to-Family is led by family members of people diagnosed with schizophrenia, who can be of great assistance to other families in need of education and support.
1 AnswerMany people living with schizophrenia are married, hold jobs, and have stable friendships. Of course, this is more likely to happen when people with schizophrenia maintain their treatment plan under medical guidance. When a person with schizophrenia has a relapse and his symptoms become problematic, a friend can encourage that person to get help quickly. This can prevent severe symptoms, like having a psychotic episode or attempting suicide. In fact, friends can be very helpful in the recovery of an individual with schizophrenia.
People with schizophrenia can benefit from knowing a caring friend who can assist with daily life tasks. Friends of people with schizophrenia may even choose to take part in family or group therapy. In these settings, they can learn more about the illness and how to support their friend through difficult times.
1 AnswerSocial isolation may increase the chance that a person develops schizophrenia. A study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry in 2010 suggests that people with schizophrenia are raised in cities more often than in rural areas. Led by Stanley Zammit, at Cardiff University in Wales, the research team noticed that cities and urban locations are home to a larger proportion of people with schizophrenia. One reason for this, the study authors say, is that people living in cities tend to have weaker social links and fewer friends. The authors came to the conclusion that life in smaller, rural areas might offer a sense of community, belonging, and safety that might somehow prevent schizophrenia in some way.
1 AnswerSome medical conditions and diseases in the brain can cause people to experience some of the symptoms of schizophrenia, although they shouldn't be diagnosed with the mental illness. According to the Merck Manuals Online Medical Library, examples of illnesses that can cause symptoms of schizophrenia include:
- thyroid disorders
- seizure disorders
- brain tumors
- kidney disease
- drug overdose or reaction to drugs
- some vitamin deficiencies
Also, many mental disorders also cause symptoms similar to schizophrenia. These are:
- brief psychotic disorder
- schizophreniform and schizoaffective disorder
- several personality disorders, including schizotypal, paranoid, and schizoid personality disorders
1 AnswerSchizophrenia and schizophreniform disorder share many of the same symptoms. However, there is one key difference. A diagnosis of schizophreniform disorder is given to people who have the symptoms of schizophrenia, but the symptoms only have only been present for one to six months. In order to be diagnosed with schizophrenia, one's symptoms must cause great difficulty for the person for at least six months.
Symptoms that occur with schizophreniform disorder are the same as schizophrenia, including:
- seeing and hearing things that are not real
- worrying that others are plotting to cause harm
- flat emotional expression
- talking and behaving in odd or inappropriate ways
- social isolation and trouble relating to others
- poor hygiene and trouble taking care of one's self
- trouble thinking clearly and remembering things
1 AnswerSometimes, people with schizophrenia experience several groups of symptoms at the same time. When more than one group of symptoms are prominent, a person may be diagnosed with undifferentiated schizophrenia. Over time, a person's predominant type of schizophrenia may change.
According to the Merck Manuals Online Medical Library, people with schizophrenia can be classified into several different groups, based on their symptoms. When one group of symptoms is more apparent than another, they are considered to have a specific type of schizophrenia. For instance, people with paranoia as a predominant symptom may be classified as having paranoid schizophrenia. The other types of schizophrenia include:
- disorganized schizophrenia
- catatonic schizophrenia
- residual schizophrenia
1 AnswerAs of 2008, only two drugs had been approved by the FDA to treat schizophrenia in young people: risperidone and aripiprazole. However, doctors for years have been prescribing a number of antipsychotic medications to treat schizophrenia in children and adolescents. The practice of prescribing medicines that have not been FDA approved is called off-label use. Off-label use is legal, although doctors must be cautious to follow up on young people who are taking these drugs.
Some side effects of antipsychotic medications are serious. In 2010, the National Institute of Mental Health reported that young people frequently change and discontinue use of antipsychotic medications because of unpleasant side effects. Frequent monitoring of the child is important to reduce potentially harmful side effects.
1 AnswerResearchers believe that they may have identified an important gene that causes abnormal brain development in people with schizophrenia. A research group studied the brain chemistry of a family in Scotland. More than half of the extended members of this family ended up developing schizophrenia or other serious mental health problems in their lifetime. The researchers found a gene, DISC1, which was altered in the family members with schizophrenia.
Recently, researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health noticed that DISC1 might even be altered while a fetus is still in the womb, causing schizophrenia later in life. DISC1 stands for "disrupted in schizophrenia" and is associated with development of the brain, emotions, and memory. These three features are affected in people who develop schizophrenia. Babies who display this change in the womb may be more likely to develop schizophrenia.
1 AnswerThe National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) reports that people with schizophrenia are more likely to abuse drugs than other people. The NIMH also reports that some drugs are known to worsen symptoms of schizophrenia in people with the illness. Drugs including PCP and marijuana may also cause symptoms of schizophrenia, such as psychotic symptoms. However, this doesn't always mean that an individual will develop full-blown schizophrenia.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that early marijuana use is associated with a diagnosis of schizophrenia. However, experts are not certain whether marijuana actually causes the disease or whether people prone to schizophrenia start using marijuana at an early age.