Although schizophrenia is not as common as other mental disorders, the symptoms can be very disabling.Have you ever wondered how it would be like if you strongly believed that:
1. Your colleague was conspiring against you and he has put on cameras in the office to spy on you.
2. Or your husband was having an affair.
3. And some unknown voices which you keep hearing even when alone.
J4. You are scared of talking to others because you are so dead sure that he /she can read your mind and will know everything that you are thinking.
5. Or you feel that you have been send to this world with a superhuman mission and if you sneeze, earthquake might come.
All this would seem to be very unusual for a common person but this is exactly what schizophrenia is like. Schizophrenia is a chronic, severe, and disabling brain disease. Approximately 1% of the population develops schizophrenia during their lifetime.
Schizophrenia affects men and women with equal frequency, the disorder often appears earlier in men, usually in the late teens or early twenties, than in women, who are generally affected in the twenties to early thirties. It can affect anyone.Its caused by a mixture of Genetic variations, perhaps slight brain damage at birth/pregnancy. Drugs may trigger it. Stress makes it worse.
People with schizophrenia display a series of terrifying symptoms
• Hallucinations i.e. hearing, smelling, feeling or seeing something that isn’t there. They hear internal voices not heard by others, or believing that other people are reading their minds, controlling their thoughts, or plotting to harm them
• Delusions i.e. believing something completely despite evidence to contrary even though others find your ideas strange. They develop false and fixed beliefs which are not evidence based
• Difficulty in logical thinking
• Feeling that your body and thoughts have been taken over and controlled by someone else.
• Negative symptoms: Loss of interest, energy and emotions, not able to work as before, aloofness. They lose their ability to plan, concentrate, pay attention, inhibit their responses, loose initiative, loose self-confidence and become depressed and anxious.
These symptoms makes them fearful and recluse, sometimes violent. There is progression of illness and the family members may be left very confused and shocked. Once a healthy and a vibrant individual has slowly become withdrawn, aggressive and saying stuff which no one seems to understand. It may also start suddenly.
All these symptoms affect their social , psychological and occupational functioning.
Treatment: Antipsychotic Medications and rehabilitation are the mainstay of treatment. It can help in around 4 out of 5 people. Medications are very safe if taken under proper supervision When used regularly and as prescribed, can help reduce and control the distressing symptoms of the illness.
With treatment, most people with schizophrenia live a stable life, work, and have good relationships.