Schizophrenia is a severe mental disorder which may demonstrate symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions and distorted thinking and behavior that can disrupt regular activities. Schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorders refer to some categories of symptoms that do not fully meet the criteria for a specific disorder.
Symptoms of schizophrenia are more commonly seen in early 20s for men, late 20s in women, and rarely in children.
While schizophrenia could include a wide range of impairments there are some symptoms that are common to most schizophrenia spectrum patients.
Seeing and hearing visions and voices that don’t exist in reality. Schizophrenia patients encounter them as real things and real experiences.
False beliefs and paranoid behavior based on ideation that other people and things are aiming to harm or harass.
Incoherent thoughts, illogical reasoning leading to erroneous or sometimes harmful conclusions.
Incoherent sentences and unrelated speech patterns impairing common communication and social interactions.
Unpredictable behaviors such as excessive reactions or lack of reactions, unfocused actions, resistance to guidance.
Passive suicidal ideation such as wishing to die, and active suicidal ideation such as having intent to die could occur in schizophrenia patients.
Schizophrenia disorders have been classified as spectrum disorders because they may show themselves in one way but change during the course of the illness.
Types of Other Psychotic Disorders
There is no one confirmed cause for schizophrenia however there could be a combination of factors that may contribute to developing these disorders.
Some schizophrenia disorders have been seen to run in families and while there is a belief that genetics could be the cause of this, it hasn’t been identified as such.
Prenatal and pregnancy complications, socioeconomic status, childhood trauma and several other environmental factors could become potential risks developing into any of these disorders.
Studies showing brain changes in schizophrenia patients are still recent, however changes such as reduction in temporal lobe size, decreased brain size, fluid filled ventricles are some observations leading to these conclusions.
Studies have repeatedly shown that suffering from conditions such as anxiety, depression and dissociative disorders may contribute to developing schizophrenia and vice versa.
Diagnosing schizophrenia spectrum disorder or the other psychotic disorders are usually based on personal and family medical histories, MRI or FMRI brain scans, and observation of symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions, disorganized thinking and speech patterns. A physical test including a blood test may be performed in the process of diagnosis.
While there is no cure for schizophrenia there are many effective treatment options that can greatly alleviate the symptoms and reduce the return of relapse episodes.
Medical treatment options may include prescription antipsychotic drugs, and alternative treatment options such as therapy contribute to learning self-care skills and strategies to cope with life’s challenges. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for building coping skills and Cognitive Enhancement Therapy (CET) using brain games have been seen to be particularly effective against schizophrenia and related disorders. Family, group and community support can help patients from feeling isolated and encourage them to become active members of society.
If you or your loved one is experiencing any of the symptoms described here, please seek help.
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