Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that makes it difficult to tell what is real and what is not.

Common Facts

1.  It is a brain disorder that distorts the way a person thinks, acts, expresses emotion, relates to others, and perceives reality.

2. 1% of the population (2.2 million Americans) will develop it.

3. There are five sub types paranoid, disorganized, catatonic, undifferentiated, and residual.

4. The cause is unknown it can be developed through many different ways like genetics, brain chemistry, brain abnormality, and environment.

5. It usually appears when a person is in their early twenties.

6. Most people prefer to be left alone and are not violent.

7. Some treatments can be taking medication, therapy, and hospitalization these will help reduce some of the symptoms but will not make them go away.

8. There are three different types of symptoms positive, negative, and cognitive.

9. Positive symptoms are what the person experiences that healthy people do not such as delusions, hallucinations, and catatonia (being in one position for a long time)

10. Negative symptoms are what the person does not experience that healthy people do such as absence of normal behaviors, reduced speech and energy, lack of motivation and emotion, withdrawal from family and friends.

11. Cognitive symptoms are trouble focusing and difficulty remembering.     

What is affected?

Different parts of the brain are affected for different symptoms.

Forebrain- topmost largest portion of the brain and serves to control cognition, sensory, and motor function.

Hindbrain- manages the motor activity, posture, balance, and circulation of blood.

Limbic system- regulates emotions, memories, and learning.

Thalamas- filters incoming sensory signals studies show that there was unusually high activity here when hallucinating.

Amygdala- fear processing studies show that there was high activity here when dealing with paranoia.

Dopamine-  which influences movement, learning, attention, and emotion. It is found that most patients have more dopamine. Psychologists say that overly responsive dopamine systems might magnify brain activity.  

How is it different from a normal brain?

This is a picture of identical twins one has schizophrenia and one does not. This is showing the ventricles that are filled with fluid are enlarged in the twin with schizophrenia. Activity levels can also be higher or lower in a schizophrenic brain. There can be strong reductions of grey matter especially in the frontal (speech and verbal thoughts) and temporal lobes (where they are perceived). The more gray matter you lose the worse the symptoms may get. A decrease in the prefrontal area (planning and thinking).

Treatments

There is no way to actually cure Schizophrenia but there are ways to help control and reduce the symptoms.

Medications:

1. Atypical anti-psychotics- new medication that posses a lower risk of serious side effects.

  • Aripiprazole (Abilify)
  • Azenapine (Saphris)
  • Clozapine (Clozaril)

2. Typical anti-psychotics- Old medications

  • Chlorpromazine
  • Fluphenazine
  • Aaloperidol
  • Perphenazine

3. Therapy

  • Individual
  • Social Skills
  • Family
  • Vocational and supported employment

Incidence Rate

Only 1% of Americans will develop schizophrenia. About 1 in 100 people will experience schizophrenia in their life time. Many continue to lead normal lives.

Famous people who have schizophrenia

John Nash- Mathematician and Nobel Prize winner

Zelda Fitzgerald- F. Scott Fitzgerald wife

Brian Wilson- Beach Boys

Mary Todd Lincoln- Abraham Lincolns wife

Eduard Einstein- Albert Einsteins son  

Do you have schizophrenia?

There is no actual test for schizophrenia. If you feel you have some of these symptoms from these questions then it would be in your best interest to see a psychiatrist. A diagnosis is usually made through interviews with the patient, family and friends over long periods of time.

  1. Do you experience hallucinations (hearing voices or other sounds that are actually not there or do not exist)?
  2. Do you have lack of motivation, emotional expression, or energy?
  3. Do you feel that an outside force is making you feel or act a certain way?
  4. Do you hear voices that discuss, argue, or narrate your actions?
  5. Do you have disorganized speech or behavior (talking or acting strangely)?   

What is it like to have Schizophrenia?

Sources

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