While I was home this past weekend, I often found myself in front of the television with my mom watching her favorite show, Dr. Phil. One of the episodes we ended up watching was on a young girl with Schizophrenia. I have always had an idea of what Schizophrenia was, but I have never actually realized how serious it can be until after watching. So, I decided to do some research on what it is and how a person might be able to tell if someone has it. This article here mentions that over three million people in the United States are affected by Schizophrenia.
What is Schizophrenia?
This article here defines schizophrenia as a serious disorder of the brain affecting how a person thinks, feels, and acts, and sees the world around them. People who have schizophrenia have a misrepresented view of reality. They might see and hear things that are not real; may be unresponsive or withdrawn; and may have difficulty expressing normal emotions in social situations. They might also feel like they are always being spied on or that others are trying to hurt them. All of these setbacks for people with schizophrenia make it extremely difficult for them to deal with the world around them. Although many people think of schizophrenia and multiple personality disorder as one in the same, they are not. The two disorders are, in fact, very different. Most people who have schizophrenia are not dangerous to those around them.
What Causes Schizophrenia?
The causes of schizophrenia still seem to be unclear. Some theories, however, recommend that schizophrenia is caused by genetics, biology, and/or possible viral infections and immune disorders. Theories suggest that schizophrenia could be hereditary because scientists often find that the disorder runs in the family, and once one family member has it, another member of the family has a good chance of getting it as well. No one gene, however, causes schizophrenia by itself. Scientists believe that people with schizophrenia have an imbalance of brain chemicals and neurotransmitters that allow nerve cells in the brain to send messages to each other. The imbalance of these chemicals affects the way a person reacts to things around them. Environmental factors that are said to be the possible cause of schizophrenia include hormonal, social, nutritional and chemical environment in the mother’s womb during pregnancy. The article mentions that babies whose mothers get the flu while pregnant are more at risk for developing the disorder later in life.
Signs and Symptoms
There are numerous signs that may become visible if a person thinks he/she has schizophrenia or knows someone who might have the disorder. Signs of schizophrenia can differ and might not show up right away. Signs may include things like hearing or seeing something that isn’t there, a change in personality, inability to sleep or concentrate, a constant feeling of being watched, a change in personal hygiene and appearance, etc. It is extremely vital that anyone who is experiencing these signs seeks help immediately.
Symptoms of schizophrenia include delusions, hallucinations, disordered thinking and speech, and disorganized behavior. Delusions can be defined as false and illogical but firmly held beliefs because of inability to differentiate between real and fake experiences. Hallucinations might include seeing, feeling, hearing, or smelling something that does not actually exist. The most common example of a hallucination is hearing voices. Someone with disordered thinking will have trouble keeping track of his or her thoughts or conversations. Disorganized behavior might include things like problems with hygiene or choosing appropriate clothing for the weather.
Although a person with schizophrenia can never be fully treated, there are ways to improve the disorder, especially if that person is seen early on. Recovery from the disorder is possible through things like medication and rehab. There are even employment programs to help those with schizophrenia to find jobs more easily.
Overall, schizophrenia effects people all over the world and affects 1% of the United States population. There are no immediate or full cures for the disorder, but there are definitely ways to improve and prevent things from being worse in the future. If you or someone you know might have it, contact someone immediately to seek help.
Here is a clip from the episode of Dr. Phil that I watched about a young girl with schizophrenia.
Picture Source: here