Schizophrenia

About Schizophrenia: Symptoms and Treatment Image

When people talk about schizophrenia, a split personality often comes to mind. Although “schizophrenia” does come from the Greek term for “split mind,” a split personality isn’t one of the symptoms of this condition.

Rather, schizophrenia refers to a group of serious mental disorders. Schizophrenia symptoms interfere with a person’s ability to accurately perceive reality. As a result, a schizophrenic finds it difficult or, in some cases, impossible to distinguish whether or not an event is real.

The National Institute of Mental Health (2009) states that schizophrenia affects about 1 percent of the adult U.S. population. Psychosis can cause drastic changes in behavior, leading some people to believe that these individuals have two or more distinct personalities.

Most cases of schizophrenia develop in early adulthood. Schizophrenia symptoms are uncommon in childhood, although some children do have this condition. According to the Mayo Clinic (2010), males usually develop schizophrenia symptoms in their teens to 20s, and women develop symptoms later in life: from the 20s to early 30s. A diagnosis of schizophrenia after age 40 is rare.

Types of Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia manifests itself in various forms. Some of the established categories are:

Of these different types, undifferentiated schizophrenia is the most common, while paranoid schizophrenia is the most treatable.

About Schizophrenia Symptoms

Although knowledge about causes of schizophrenia is somewhat limited, medical professionals believe that schizophrenia is a result of genetic, environmental and chemical factors. A specific combination of these factors may trigger schizophrenia symptoms in susceptible individuals.

Since schizophrenia symptoms are fairly vague and mimic those produced by other mental disorders and drug use, a doctor will use a patient’s detailed medical history when diagnosing schizophrenia. Making a schizophrenia diagnosis is typically a process of elimination, since doctors must rule out other possible explanations for the patient’s symptoms.

Treatment for Schizophrenia

Treatment for schizophrenia can control symptoms, but it can’t cure the disease. Past treatment for schizophrenia included lobotomy and shock therapy, while current treatment methods focus on antipsychotic medication.

Note that the effectiveness of these medications is still being determined. As researchers learn more about the condition and new medications are introduced, new treatment for schizophrenia may become available.

Resources

American Psychiatric Association. (2010). Schizophrenia. Retrieved July 2, 2010, from http://healthyminds.org/Main-Topic/Schizophrenia.aspx

Mayo Clinic. (2010). Schizophrenia. Retrieved July 2, 2010, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/schizophrenia/DS00196

National Institute of Mental Health. (2009). What is schizophrenia? Retrieved July 2, 2010, from http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/schizophrenia/what-is-schizophrenia.shtml