Schizophrenia Symptoms and Treatment
Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde - two personalities in the one body. That is what most people think when the term schizophrenia is used, but this is NOT the case with this severe and sometimes disabling disease. Patients with schizophrenia often change the topic of conversation for no apparent reason. They may not look after themselves, become disheveled in appearance, withdrawn, and fail to communicate properly with others. When treatment starts, the majority of patients return to the person you knew them to be. This gives the impression of two different personalities, but there is only the treated and untreated patient.
No-one knows exactly what causes schizophrenia, but there are many theories. There is certainly a family tendency for developing the disease. If your parents, or brothers or sisters have the disease, it is more likely, but by no means inevitable, that you could develop symptoms. Another factor is the environment in which the patient is raised. Family, school or work stresses, particularly in early childhood, may lead a person to escape these stresses by developing schizophrenia.
Schizophrenia, like all mental illnesses, is a disease, and is no different to asthma, high blood pressure or a stomach ulcer, except it is the brain that is involved.
There are many different types of schizophrenia, but most patients who are diagnosed with this condition have the symptoms mentioned above, as well as other mood and behavior changes that seem bizarre to others. Schizophrenics often believe that people are trying to persecute them. They may hear unfriendly voices, or have frightening hallucinations.
The diagnosis is not an easy one for doctors to be certain about, because patients must be observed for several months, and their reaction to treatment must be assessed. A general practitioner may be concerned about a patient and refer them to a psychiatrist, who can usually make a definite diagnosis. Once the diagnosis is made, appropriate treatment can start. Doctors have a wide range of effective medications (antipsychotics) to control the disease. This is not the end of treatment though. Just as important as the medication is the environment in which the patients live and are cared for. Their psychological needs must be catered for, they must be made to feel part of the community again, and their families will probably require counseling so that they can overcome the stress of coping with someone who may not want to be part of modern society.
Permanent cure is not always possible, and many schizophrenics must remain on medication for the rest of their lives. Provided they attend regular follow-up by a psychiatrist or general practitioner, there should be no reason why their lives shouldn't be as long, normal and productive as any other citizen's. The number of people with this disease is greater than you may realize. This is because most sufferers are ashamed, for no good reason, of the diagnosis.
Mental illnesses are rapidly losing the accursed name they had in years past. Anyone can suffer from a mental illness, and anyone can be appropriately treated. The understanding of the general public can only help these people.
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