A different interpretation of reality
Schizophrenia is an enduring brain disorder that inhibits a person’s thoughts, behaviours and feelings. People with this condition may appear to have lost touch with the real world. Symptoms of this illness usually arise between the ages of sixteen and thirty years. There are however, cases that begin in early childhood. The most common form is paranoid schizophrenia, in which a person sees or hears things that do not exist, suffer confusing thoughts and believe that there are people trying to harm them. They often feel to be under constant surveillance.
Given the complexity of this condition, there are in fact a wide array of symptoms that are organized into the three categories of positive, negative and cognitive. Positive symptoms are the more well-known indicators that include delusional thinking, hallucinations and restless or disturbed movements of the body. Negative symptoms concern the emotions of the person, specifically any disruption to their usual emotive behaviours. For example, a person with schizophrenia may showcase a difficulty or reduction in speaking. They may appear void of emotions altogether, lacking in expression, be it sadness or happiness. They may demonstrate an inability to feel pleasure in everyday life.
Cognitive symptoms range from subtle to severe, dependent upon the individual. Schizophrenia may well impact a person’s memory or capacity to function, for example when faced with decisions or understanding basic information. There may also be trouble in a person’s ability to focus.
What are the causes?
We will all have watched films or television programmes that have featured schizophrenia in some light. It is commonly understood that it is a mental health disorder that can sometimes be traced through our genetic history. However, it is important to note, that just because you may happen to have a relative that has suffered with this condition, it does by no means suggest that you will too. Equally, there are many people with diagnosed Schizophrenia that cannot trace the illness though their family history. To put plainly, it is not yet possible or viable to use genetic information to predict whether someone is likely to develop the condition or not.
If we think outside of genetic links then, there are environmental factors that could well be attributing causes to the development of this condition. They include exposure to viruses, problems during the individual’s own birth or psycho social issues, such as drug or alcohol abuse.
Scientific research also looks to the consideration of brain chemistry or problems during brain growth before birth as a major contributor. For example, brain changes during development or during puberty could possibly trigger the common psychotic symptoms associated with this condition.
What can you do to help a loved one with Schizophrenia?
Providing support for a person with this condition can prove incredibly hard. It may well feel truly impossible to know what to do for the best, particularly if the person is suffering severely with delusional behavior. It is vital to bear in mind that this is a biological issue, caused by altered brain chemistry. Their delusional thoughts therefore, seem incredibly real to them and there is no way with which you are able to comprehend their experiencing nor challenge them in hope that they regain a sense of reality that is currently lost. All you are able to say to a loved one dealing with this condition, is that everyone has a right to see things their own way. The only thing you can do, is to seek medical treatment and encourage them, as best as you are able, to stay with the treatment as advised by medical professionals.
Ensure that you are caring for yourself. Watching a loved one suffer in this way can be incredibly difficult. Take extra special care of yourself and ensure that you seek some additional support should you require it.
What are the early signs to be aware of?
The most common early indicators of schizophrenia include depression or social withdrawal, suspiciousness or hostility, often unprovoked. You, or a loved one may experience a disinterest in terms of maintaining your personal hygiene, as well as experiencing a disruption to your usual sleep routine. There may be an onset of irrational thinking or an altered way of speaking.
The onset of delusions is identified in the majority of cases. This includes the belief that you are being watched, or perhaps even delusions of grandeur. It is common for people with schizophrenia to believe they are god-like or famous figures. People may also believe to have special powers. Hallucinations are also likely, for example, hearing the sound of voices in your head.
It can of course, be incredibly frightening if you yourself identify with any of the signs noted. If you do recognize any of these symptoms, do not worry alone. Book an appointment to see your doctor straight away. It is essential that you take charge of your health at the earliest stage possible. Beginning treatment with a medical professional is necessary for your recovery. With an effective treatment strategy in place, many people with schizophrenia are able to get better over time, even becoming symptom free. It is absolutely possible that a person is able to manage the disorder whilst leading a fulfilled and happy life.
Wishing you courage and strength,
Caroline Holbrook: Psychotherapist | Life Coach | Counsellor
If you are looking for professional and qualified advice in and around Sitges (Spain), then please call me directly at +34 603 63 29 24. If you are based remotely, then you can also email me at email@example.com Either way, more information about the services I offer can be found here at the Here to Help website.