Schizophrenia is a severe, chronic, and disabling disorder of the brain in which an individual experiences cognitive distortions that can negatively impair the ability to function. Symptoms of schizophrenia include fall into 3 recognized categories:
- 1. Positive symptoms of schizophrenia consist of psychotic behaviors such as:
- • Hallucinations, in which a person may see, hear, feel, and even experience a taste that others may not. “Voices” are the most common type of hallucination.
- • Delusions, in which a person experiences false beliefs that are generally not logical and may be bizarre in nature.
- • Thought disorders, in which a person experiences disorganized thinking, thought blocking, and neologisms.
- • Movement disorders, in which an individual may experience and present with agitated and/or repeated body movements. On the other spectrum, an individual may experience catatonia, in which the individual appears to be unable to move and respond to others.
- 2. Negative symptoms of schizophrenia consist of a series of disruptions to normal pattern of emotions and behaviors, such as:
- • Social avoidance with limited speech.
- • Diminished ability to experience pleasure.
- • Flat affect.
- • Poor personal hygiene.
- 3. Cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia consist of a diminished ability to perform cognitive functions, such as:
- • Inability to focus on tasks, pay attention to detail, and make rational decisions.
- • Difficulty understanding information and instruction presented.
- • Poor memory and limited retention of information.
The actual cause of schizophrenia is under constant debate, study, review, and conjecture. Nevertheless, there is a general common acceptance among most mental health professionals that schizophrenia may be caused by a convergence of biological/genetic and environment factors. For the most part, schizophrenia affects men and women equally with symptoms usually starting between ages 16 and 30. Early signs of schizophrenia in teens may include disturbed patterns of sleep, a drop in grades, drastic change in composition of friends, isolative behaviors, and recurrent feelings of irritability.
Individuals with schizophrenia have the potential to live an independently full and functioning life with a well-balanced care plan consisting of a combination of both antipsychotic medications and psychotherapeutic treatments.
The following are some of the more commonly prescribed “typical” antipsychotic medications:
- • Chlorpromazine (Thorazine)
- • Haloperidol (Haldol)
- • Perphenazine (Etrafon, Trilafon)
- • Fluphenazine (Prolixin)
The following are a list of some of the more commonly prescribed “atypical” or second generation of antipsychotic medications:
- • Risperidone (Risperdal)
- • Olanzapine (Zyprexa)
- • Quetiapine (Seroquel)
- • Ziprasidone (Geodon)
- • Aripiprazole (Abilify)
- • Paliperidone (Invega).
Psychotherapeutic and psychosocial treatments have been shown to be a highly effective part of a well-balanced care plan for a person diagnosed with schizophrenia who has been stabilized on antipsychotic medications. These treatments provide ongoing emotional and case management support; which in turn provide the foundation for life skills and interpersonal relationships. As a result, the schizophrenic is less like to experience a relapse of symptoms requiring additional hospitalization.
If you or a loved one is suffering with symptoms of schizophrenia, you are encouraged to reach out for a complimentary, caring, and confidential consultation at 800-787-1721.