Schizophrenia is a complex psychological disorder. People with this condition may experience hallucinations, delusions, disorganized thinking (speech), abnormal motor skills, affective symptoms, and cognitive impairment. It can be debilitating, causing someone not to be able to function in everyday life. Much research has gone into understanding schizophrenia and how to treat it. However, researchers are still looking into how it occurs and the specific ways that it affects the brain. In this page, we are going to explore what schizophrenia is and the current research into it. Additionally, we’ll share a few of our customers who are treating psychosis and schizophrenia.
Symptoms are commonly described as either ‘positive’ symptoms or ‘negative’ symptoms. Please note that these terms differ from the common definition of these words. So, it doesn’t mean that they are good or bad, but rather additive or subtractive. ‘Positive’ symptoms are unusual changes that ‘added on’ to a person’s experiences. They are usually called ‘psychotic symptoms’ or ‘psychosis’. ‘Negative’ symptoms are the lack of feelings that people normally have.
Both types of symptoms can affect an individual’s ability to function. The negative symptoms can often appear several years before somebody experiences their first episode of psychosis.
‘Positive symptoms’ mean that the individual experiences additional aspects to their reality. All of the symptoms below are not exclusive to schizophrenia. These symptoms can also happen in other mental illnesses. They are usually called ‘psychotic symptoms’ or ‘psychosis’.
Examples of these may be:
Delusions are false beliefs that are not reality. Individuals may have beliefs that are strange, but at the time seem very real. In some cases, individuals with schizophrenia may think they are being watched, someone is putting messages into their heads, or that someone is taking away their thoughts. Or, individuals may feel like they have superpowers or that a famous person is in love with them. These delusions are typically brought on by sensory experiences or emotional states.
Hallucinations are seeing, feeling, or hearing things that don’t exist. People with schizophrenia may hear voices that may sound angry or may lead a person to take urgent action. Additionally, other hallucinations may include visual hallucinations, which cause someone to see things that are not there. Individuals may see people or figures, like clowns, in an audience. Lastly, some people may smell or taste things that are not present, which may cause some to avoid eating.
Disorganized speech is when a person speaks or responds verbally in a way without a consistent train of thought. For example, an individual may speak incoherently or respond to a question with an answer that is not appropriate to the question. Other times, someone with schizophrenia may say something illogical or have trouble maintaining the focus of a topic in a conversation. This can be frustrating for both the individual and others around them as the ability for the individual to focus may seem not to be present, which may cause people to avoid engaging with them.
‘Negative symptoms’ mean that the individual experiences losses. So, with negative symptoms, the individual may lose some ability and enjoyment in life.
Examples of these may be:
Abnormal motor skills varies in numerous ways. Sometimes, people with schizophrenia may appear clumsy, because they may bump into objects or drop things. Holding objects still may be difficult, as individuals tend to sway their upper extremities. Complex motor skill tasks may be troublesome, such as tying shoelaces or engaging in activities requiring high dexterity. Subsequently, people with schizophrenia may work with an occupational therapist or physical therapist to work on their motor skills.
Affective symptoms are often associated with manic or depressive episodes. Individuals may experience prolonged sadness, irritability, anxiety, lethargic, abnormal eating and sleeping habits, and more. These symptoms are usually treated with a combination of medication and psychotherapy.
With this in mind, these symptoms may negatively impact an individual’s ability to function, causing them to seek medical treatment. It is a condition that requires lifelong management, with a combination of medication, psychotherapy, and sometimes cognitive remediation therapy. The earlier someone with schizophrenia gets intervention, they may be likely to control symptoms before they become severe and more complicated to manage.
Yes, there are 5 different types of schizophrenia. The International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) manual describes them as below.
This is the most common form. Individuals prominent have hallucinations, where they hear voices or sounds, but their speech and emotions may be unaffected.
This type of schizophrenia expresses it’s self with the following symptoms: irresponsible and unpredictable behavior, disorganized thoughts, decline of speech ability, self-isolating tendencies, and a surprising increase of desire to do pranks, giggling and usually have health complaints.
This is a rarer form. Often times, individuals with this condition have unusual movements, often switching between being very active and very still along with no desire for communication.
This type often has more negative symptoms of isolating and progressive gets worst. They rarely have any positive symptoms.
This type of schizophrenia is diagnosed in the later stages of the condition. For example, an individual may be diagnosed with this if they have a history of schizophrenia but only continue to experience negative symptoms.
Symptoms meet the general conditions for a diagnosis, but do not fit in to any of the above categories.
Not necessarily, because symptoms of schizophrenia vary in type and severity over time. So, some time periods may involve the worsening of symptoms, and others may be remission of symptoms. Some individuals have persistent symptoms, while others may only experience them intermittently.
Yes. In men, symptoms often start to precipitate in their early to mid-20s, whereas women often experience symptoms in their late 20s. Children and individuals over the age of 45 rarely get diagnosed. However, people may start to experience symptoms in their teenage years. It is always best to seek medical advice at the first notice or experience of symptoms, as early intervention can help someone avoid experiencing psychosis.
In some ways, schizophrenia may be considered a genetic disorder. Genetic studies focused on single nucleotide polymorphisms have found several genes of interest that may be responsible for causing schizophrenia. Specifically, researchers have identified that mutations on chromosome 6p21.3-22.1, 2q32.1, chromosome 8, and 18q21.2 may be linked to schizophrenia. Other genes of interest are involved in signaling pathways and the potassium channel. Currently, researchers have identified 43 genes that may be involved in causing schizophrenia, but it appears that a variety of genetic abnormalities may cause schizophrenia.
Some researchers and medical professionals think of schizophrenia as a developmental disorder. Researchers have found that people with schizophrenia have different brain development. Additionally, research indicates that affected individuals might have reduced myelination, interneuron activity, and excessive excitatory pruning. With this abnormal brain development researchers believe that people with schizophrenia interpret and process information differently.
On the other hand, other researchers are discovering the influence of recreational substance use, such as marijuana, methamphetamines or LSD, which could cause individuals to develop similar signs and symptoms of schizophrenia.
It is recommended to consult a doctor and receive medical advice for proper diagnosis. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) provides a service called the Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator to help individuals find mental health treatment facilities and programs. SAMHSA’s Early Serious Mental Illness Treatment Locator provides information about treatment facilities that offer coordinated specialty care.
There are many other treatment options available. For example, one of the most popular treatment options is using a clinician trained in the NEAR cognitive remediation therapy (Neuropsychological Educational Approach to Remediation) founded by Dr. Alice Medalia of Columbia University approach. Additionally, Dr. Chris Bowie has a treatment style similar to Dr. Medalia’s called ABCR. Lastly, Learn about how the HOPE program at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center conducts its research and treatment for individuals with schizophrenia.
Check out the recent research published using HappyNeuron Pro with Schizophrenia patients:
Franck N, Duboc C, Sundby C, et al. Specific vs general cognitive remediation for executive functioning in schizophrenia: a multicenter randomized trial. Schizophr Res. 2013;147(1):68‐74. doi:10.1016/j.schres.2013.03.009
Pascal Vianin, Sébastien Urben, Pierre Magistretti, Pierre Marquet, Eleonora Fornari, Laure Jaugey. Increased activation in Broca’s area after cognitive remediation in schizophrenia. Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, Volume 221. Issue 3, 30 March 2014, pp 204-209.
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