What is schizophrenia? What does it effect, and where? What are the symptoms? Causes? Treatment options?
What is Schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia is a genetic and environmental disorder that effects the frontal lobe and the levels of dopomine in the brain. It runs in families, although only about one percent of Americans have the disorder. It effects men more than it effects women, and it usually manifests late teens to early twenties. Rarely is it diagnosed after 45. It is very difficult to diagnose schizophrenia in children, however they may be diagnosed with early onset schizophrenia. The disorder results in disruptions in the structure and function of the brain and the neurotransmitter pathways of the central nervous system.
A normal brain versus a brain effected by schizophrenia.
Where did it Come From?
Schizophrenia was first diagnosed in 1887 by Dr. Emile Krepelin. However, the word is barely 1oo years old, and was coined by Eugene Bleuler in 1911. It is thought that the disorder has followed humans all throughout history. There has even been evidence found to suggest the peoples of Pharaonic Egpyt suffered from a disorder quite like it if not the same one.
Symptoms of Schizophrenia
The disorder is divided into two sets of symptoms. Positive and negative symptoms.
Positive symptoms include:
- Disorganized speech, thoughts, movements, and behaviors.
An example of what auditory hallucinations might sound like.
The negative symptoms of schizophrenia include:
- Alogia and poverty of speech - the person may speak very little and/or have little meaningful content to their conversations.
- A flattening or blunting effect - a lack of facial expressions and/or a monotone voice when speaking. Not maintaining eye contact.
- Avalition and anhedonia - a loss of interest in things that once brought pleasure.
- Catatonia and posturing - seeming to stop moving entirely and/or freezing in unusual body positions.
Schizophrenia cannot be cured. However, it can be treated. Most patients are described antipsychotics. However antipsychotics only help prevent the positive symptoms. The negative symptoms still effect the person on a day to day basis. New therapies with glutamatic receptors to treat both the positive and negative symptoms are being researched. Usually, the biggest issue with medications is keeping patients on their regular medicine regimen. Patients have a tendency to go off their medications, which creates a lot of issues with their lives. Patients off medications usually can't hold down jobs, which ends in poverty. Staying off meds can create issues with friends and families as well. However, if patients stay on their medications and continue their support therapies they have a normal life expectancy.