Pakistan

Schizophrenia: It’s More Than Just An Episode

A chronic and severe mental disorder that affects the way a person thinks, feels and behaves, disconnecting them from reality, and disabling life for them in general, is schizophrenia.

Schizophrenia usually starts to show between ages 16 and 30, though in rare cases, children have schizophrenia too and its symptoms fall into three categories: positive, negative and cognitive.

Positive‘ symptoms include psychotic behavior that are not generally seen in healthy people; the affected may ‘lose touch’ with some aspects of reality. These symptoms include hallucinations, delusions, dysfunctional or unusual thought disorders and movement disorders.

Negative‘ symptoms are associated with disturbances in normal emotions and behavior patterns. These symptoms include ‘flat affect’ which is the reduced expression of emotions via expression or voice tone, reduced feelings of pleasure for everyday life, difficulty beginning and sustaining activities and reduced speaking.

However for some patients, the ‘Cognitive‘ symptoms are subtle, while for others they are more severe and they may notice changes in their memory or other aspects of thought. These symptoms are weakened ability to understand information and use it to make decisions, trouble focusing or paying attention, and problems with the ability to use information immediately after learning it.

The risk of developing schizophrenia is always present and the reason why it need so much acknowledgement and attention is because of how much it is neglected as a valid problem. Normally, if anyone in our culture encounters any of the above mentioned symptoms or anything worse, the instant response anyone comes up with is ‘jin charh gaya!‘ It’s time to move past that now, if we’re modern enough to know which jeans go with which shirt, we’re modern enough to know what this real life disorder is and why it happens.

The biggest contributing factor to schizophrenia is, believe it or not, genes and environment (unless you’re a jin genetically, that theory fails here.) Scientists have long known that schizophrenia sometimes runs in families. However, there are many people who have schizophrenia who don’t have a family member with the disorder and conversely, many people with one or more family members with the disorder who do not develop it themselves. It is also thought that interactions between genes and aspects of the individual’s environment are necessary for schizophrenia to develop, these environmental factors may include: exposure to viruses, malnutrition before birth, problems during birth, and psychosocial factors.

Scientists also think that imbalances in the complex, interrelated chemical reactions of the brain involving the neurotransmitters, the substances the brain uses to communicated with each other, such as dopamine, glutamate and possibly others play roles in schizophrenia. It is also said that problems during brain development before birth may lead to faulty connections. The brain undergoes major changes during puberty and these changes could trigger psychotic symptoms in people who are vulnerable due to genetics or brain difficulties.

And while the pinpoint cause of this psychological disorder is unknown, treatments focus on eliminating the symptoms that make the prevalence of schizophrenia possible. These treatments include anti-psychotics, psychosocial treatments, coordinated special care (CSC), and just simple care for the patient, because sometimes only being respectful, supportive and kind without tolerating dangerous or harmful behaviour can go a long way.

Schizophrenia is a very real and very serious disorder that completely disorients a person and changes life for them, from paranoid to disorganized schizophrenia, catatonic to residual schizophrenia, all these types and more are the reason for someone slowly escaping reality and while it may seem humorous for others to watch a person lose their marbles, it’s very very momentous for them. Support treatment for schizophrenia, support people working hard to make treatment for this disorder possible, and most of all, support people fighting this battle day and night.

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