What You Should Know About Schizophrenia
Mental health problems affect a large proportion of people around the world, and schizophrenia is one such illness which has gained a bad reputation due to people’s misunderstanding of what the condition actually is. There are two forms of schizophrenia, which are labelled as acute schizophrenia and chronic schizophrenia, but each changes the perception, thoughts and behaviour of the individual. The symptoms people generally attribute to schizophrenia characterise those of acute schizophrenia, which is when a previously healthy person shows increasingly odd behaviour over a short period of time, such as a few weeks – this form of the condition tends to affect younger people. These people find themselves having hallucinations, irrational beliefs or disordered thoughts, such as incoherent thinking, depending on the severity. The most common symptoms of schizophrenia include a lack of insight, auditory hallucinations (such as hearing voices or music), suspiciousness, flat mood, speaking thoughts aloud, or delusions of persecution. These are referred to as the positive symptoms of schizophrenia, but not all patients with this condition have these symptoms. Mood disturbances can also include depression, irritability, euphoria or anxiety. It’s also common for emotional responses to be inappropriate to one’s surroundings, such as laughing at sad news or being unconcerned by important events. Usually, a person who is suffering with schizophrenia will not realise they have these symptoms, as a person having delusions or hallucinations are believed to be real by the person having them – because of this, someone with schizophrenia will have different perceptions of the world compared to everyone else in it.
Chronic schizophrenia is a long-term condition which is characterised by a lack of drive, social withdrawal and underactivity. When left on their own, people with this condition will spend long periods of time doing nothing or simply repeating purposeless activities over again. They can often also neglect themselves significantly. Hallucinations and delusions are common with this form of the condition too, as with acute schizophrenia. Alongside the common symptoms mentioned previously, they may also have a lack of conversation or interests, suffer with depression, have odd ideas or behaviour, and be slow or underactive. These are referred to as the negative symptoms of schizophrenia. This mental health condition affects two to four people in every 1,000 at any one time. One in 100 people will develop schizophrenia in their lifetime.
It’s thought that there could be a genetic component attached to schizophrenia, which is why certain people develop it, but researchers have no conclusive evidence to determine what triggers it. While there is no gene for it, if you have a family history of the problem there is an increased risk. The risk of it increases to three percent if a grandparent has had the illness, and rises to as much as ten percent if a parent has. If both parents have schizophrenia, your risk of developing it rises to 40 percent. If you believe that you have the symptoms of schizophrenia, you should consult your GP who will run tests. However, one of the features of the condition is that you can’t spot the symptoms you have. Often it is friends or family members who suggest that something may be wrong, at which point their GP or a local service would be the best place to seek advice. It’s thought that around quarter of all people diagnosed with this condition will have one episode of the illness and then have no further problems; a further 25 percent will develop a long-term chronic illness with no remission; the remaining 50 percent will have a long-term illness which occurs intermittently with periods of remission and relapse. In people with little social support, a strong family history of the condition, whose illness came on slowly, or who delayed treatment, the problem will be worse.
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