Schizophrenia is a serious mental disorder caused by a disabling brain illness. About one per cent of Indians as well as Americans are afflicted with this problem at any given time. It does not discriminate between sex and age, but becomes most apparent when people reach their teens.
The National Institute of Mental Health suggests that the most probable cause could be linked to faulty neuron connections during the development of the child in the womb. It lies dormant until puberty and the effect may become visible afterwards.
"Persons with schizophrenia lose touch with the real world. Their perception of people and events starts divorcing from the reality. Generally they lose the capacity for logically carrying out their thought process, particularly when a lot of thoughts crowd in the brain. Their emotions are rather subdued, and expressions mostly blank. Contrary to popular thinking, a schizophrenic is no more violent than a normal person. But the tendency for suicide is higher with schizophrenia", says Rakesh Mishra, a mental disorder expert.
There are different types of schizophrenia, each one having its own symptoms. When we talk of schizophrenia, the first that comes to mind is the paranoid personality. The patient chooses a small group of family and believes that he or she belongs to top elite and others do not like it or even understand him or her.
Patients hearing voices which appear absolutely real to them is a very common symptom of schizophrenia. Any disbelief by others irritates the patient who loses the capacity to focus on relevant thoughts and proceed logically in sequence. All sorts of thoughts crowd around and he/she cannot put them in their correct order. These disorderedly thoughts are made worse by hallucinations and delusions.
"In a condition known as residual schizophrenia, the patient is not suffering from the normal symptoms of schizophrenia but loses all interest in normal living. Emotions do not move him/her. The patient appears and behaves very dull and apathetic. Nevertheless the treatment needs to include these symptoms which include depression or bipolar disorder", informs Rakesh.
Anti-psychotic drugs have been used for quite some time and are the first line of treatment for schizophrenia. Early drugs like clozapine were as effective as the newer ones. But their side effects were more severe than the newer drugs like risperidone and olanzapine.
These drugs are very effective in preventing hallucinations and delusions. When the symptoms disappear it is important that the drug is tapered down slowly to prevent relapse. Later in the treatment of schizophrenia, anti-depressive, anti-anxiety and anti-convulsive medications may be necessary to treat other symptoms, like bipolar mania and the side effects of the primary treatment.
"I know there are heavy medications for this ailment but in my case things were different. My 16 year-old son used to hallucinate and get panicky whenever he saw dark objects but eventually with the passage of time he improved and today he is absolutely free from the illness," says Anjali Jha, mother of a schizophrenic patient.
Patients hearing voices which appear absolutely real to them is a very common symptom of schizophrenia. Any disbelief by others irritates the patient who loses the capacity to focus on relevant thoughts and proceed logically in sequence.
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