Schizophrenia can be a scary and confusing disorder, especially for those who do not understand it or have never experienced it in real life. They may have confused the symptoms for other, more common conditions such as depression. Mistaking these symptoms can be costly for schizophrenics and their loved ones. If this sounds like you or you are concerned that you or a loved one may be suffering from it, read on to educate yourself about the signs, causes, and treatments of schizophrenia.
Schizophrenia usually presents itself between the ages of 16 and 30, although there have been cases in which it develops in early childhood. The sufferer may hallucinate, seemingly living in a delusional world, often just during an episode. They will usually find themselves no longer motivated to accomplish goals, and no longer show emotion in their facial expressions or tone of voice. They will often have difficulty focusing, remembering things that they just learned, and problems with motor skills. Additionally, they may have a hard time dealing with social relationships or present movement disorders, i.e. agitated movements. Most likely, these symptoms will not have always been present. It will seem that there is a change in the sufferer and these symptoms are now suddenly present.
Though there is no certainty yet on what causes schizophrenia, doctors have listed some possible causes. Some say it is the combination of certain genes. Others feel that it is due to environmental factors, such as exposure to viruses, psychosocial factors, malnutrition before birth, or problems during birth. Some say this disorder is caused by so-called "faulty connection" in the brain. Still others believe that it may be due to complex chemical reactions to the brain's dopamine and glutamate neurotransmitters.
Regardless of any beliefs, the truth is that there is no proven cause and, therefore, cannot yet be treated or cured itself. However, it is possible to treat the symptoms of schizophrenia and this is where doctors and therapists focus their efforts. There are three treatment types. The first is with antipsychotic medication which helps regulate the functions in the brain that control thinking and moods. These medications fit into two categories known as first generation, or typical, and second generation, or atypical. First generation medications include those such as Chlorpromazine (Thorazine), Fluphenazine (Prolixin), Haloperidol (Haldol) and Perphenazine (Trilafon). Some second-generation medications include Aripiprazole (Abilify), Asenapine (Saphris), Clozapine (Clorazil) and Lurasidone (Latuda).
The second treatment is called psychosocial treatment. This is a type of therapy that helps schizophrenics learn to cope with their symptoms so that they can function in daily life. The third treatment is a combination of medication, therapy, family involvement, education, and employment services. As this treatment hits multiple areas, it can be very effective.
If you feel that you or a loved one may be showing signs of schizophrenia, talk with your doctor immediately. The sooner that treatment can begin, the less time the symptoms have to control your life. You may also be interested in contributing to the study of this disease by entering clinical trials. The trial participants are generally given new medications to try while the doctors and scientists study the information gained in order to help future sufferers. Before deciding to enter a trial, however, you should discuss it with both your doctor and therapist.