Schizophrenia is one of the gravest mental illnesses that affect the way a person behaves, thinks and feels. Persons affected by schizophrenia cannot differentiate between real and imaginary experiences and hence cannot think logically. Schizophrenics are known to behave weirdly at times. Schizophrenia means split mind. However, this disease has nothing to do with "split personality". This term was first used by Eugen Bleuler who was a Swiss psychiatrist. In 1911, he coined this term for patients with disconnected thought processes.
Schizophrenia has been diagnosed as a severe, chronic brain disease. It can completely disable cognitive processes of an individual. Around 1 % of the overall population suffers from this disease. In America, over 2 million people are affected with schizophrenia. Men and women are equally prone to this disease. Schizophrenia affects men in their late teens and early twenties. This disease affects women in their twenties and early thirties.
Schizophrenics fantasize about hearing internal voices or seeing non-existent things. These experiences may frighten them. They become suspicious about imaginary people and happenings. Often their speech and behavior becomes disoriented and disorganized. Owing to their unnatural behavior, they can frighten their close relatives. Each schizophrenic has different feeling, expression and cognitive ability. A patient seems to have two different moods at one time.
The initial symptoms can be confusing or shocking. The patient's behavior seems quite illogical compared to his or her regular personality. Family members may experience enough difficulty in adjusting to this sudden change. A schizophrenic becomes isolated and detaches all family ties. Acute schizophrenia is the condition in which psychosis symptoms may appear. Psychosis is a very common schizophrenic condition. It denotes mental illness and impairments reflected by disturbances in sensory perceptions followed by delusions and hallucinations. There are individuals who undergo psychotic episode only once in their life, whereas, there are some for whom such episodes keep coming throughout their lifetime. But in case of chronic schizophrenia, the patients never recover and require long life medication to keep the symptoms under control.
Schizophrenia is diagnosed through physical examination, past medical history and laboratory tests. Moreover, drug abuse can also cause schizophrenic symptoms. Hence doctors may conduct necessary tests for final diagnosis.
Antipsychotic medications such as risperidone, olanzapine, quetiapine,
ziprasidone, aripiprazole, or paliperidone are recommended. Medications should not be stopped or changed without doctor's permission. New antipsychotic medications doesnot cause agranulocytosis (loss of the white blood cells). However, some patients may experience drowsiness, dizziness, rapid heartbeat, photosensitivity, hives, skin rashes, menstrual problems (for women) or blurred vision. These antipsychotic medications can affect weight gain and metabolic rate. Long-term usage of atypical antipsychotic medications can cause “tardive dyskinesia (TD)”. The patient fails to control muscle movements. Tardive dyskinesia can range from mild to severe. In most people, the complication cannot be cured. Patients are advised to consult therapists to learn skills to deal with persistent symptoms.