Schizophrenia: It's Cause and
Schizophrenia: What is it, what do we do?
Schizophrenia: What is it?
Schizophrenia is a disabling and emotionally devastating illness of the mind.
Like many other illnesses such as cancer and diabetes, it appears to have
primarily of a biological basis. It is not caused by poor parenting or personal
weakness as some have suggested. It is a relatively common disease with an
estimated prevalence of approximately 1 1/2 % of the U.S. population being
diagnosed with schizophrenia over the course of their lives. There is no known
cure for schizophrenia, although it
is very treatable. Most individuals
afflicted with schizophrenia respond
relatively well to medication therapy, with
many leading totally productive and fulfilling lives. Schizophrenia is not a
split personality as the lay public generally believe. Split and multiple
personalities are very rare and are actually diagnosed as multiple personality
Who and when do you get schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia may affect anyone at any point in their life, but is somewhat
more common in those who are genetically predisposed to the disease. The first
psychotic episodes generally occur in a person’s late adolescence to early
adulthood. Three-quarters of the individuals with schizophrenia, develop the
disease between the ages 16 and 25. It is relatively uncommon after the age of
30, and rare to develop after the age of 40. In the 16-25 year-old age
group, schizophrenia affects more men then women. In the 25-30 year-old age
group, the incidence is actually higher among women than men. The probability of
developing schizophrenia if neither parent have the disease is approximately 1%.
If one parent is schizophrenic, the probability of developing the disease is
approximately 13 %, and approximately 35% if both parents have the disease.
Schizophrenia: What are the symptoms?
Schizophrenic symptoms may be divided into two types including positive and
negative symptoms. Positive symptoms denote the presence of grossly abnormal
behavior such as thought disorders, delusions and/or
disorders are when an individual has a greatly diminished ability to think
clearly and logically. Frequently it is manifested by disconnected, nonsensical
language which makes it difficult for an individual to participate in
conversation, and contribute to family relationships, friendships and to society
Delusions are also common among individuals with schizophrenia, with the
“paranoid type” being the most common. Paranoid individuals believe others are
conspiring against and mean to harm them. The “broadcasting” type includes the
delusional thinking of when an individual believes their thoughts can be heard
Hallucinations may be auditory, visual or tactile. Auditory
hallucinations are when a person hears things such as voices which are not
there. Visual hallucinations obviously are images that are seen which do not
exist in reality.
As mentioned previously, schizophrenia is usually effectively treated with
medications. Studies have shown that many individuals with schizophrenia recover
completely or improve to the point that they may live independently with the
maintenance of drug therapy. Fortunately, this accounts for the majority of cases
of schizophrenia. However, approximately 15 % of schizophrenics only respond
moderately to medication and require extensive support services throughout their
entire lives. Approximately another 15 % simply do not respond to the
Antipsychotic medications are used to effectively treat schizophrenics.
Antipsychoticotic medications (also called neuroleptics), have been available
since the 1950’s and have helped to dramatically improve the functioning of
people with schizophrenia. Some of the common current medications include
Zyprexa, Risperidol, and occasionally Haldol. Various other antipsychotic
medications are used for specific individuals and specific types of symptoms.
While hospitalization is often necessary in cases of acute schizophrenia, many
individuals are treated effectively on an outpatient basis and are able to be
productive members of society. Supportive counseling or psychotherapy may be
appropriate for some individuals as a source of advice, support, and in the
development of socials skills. Compliance with medications is always the main
focus in assisting an individual with schizophrenia. Because individuals with
schizophrenia may not be aware that they are ill, it is often necessary for
friends or relatives to make certain that proper treatment is sought.
By Paul Susic MA Licensed
Psychologist Ph.D Candidate
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