What is Schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia is a psychotic disorder that is persistent for at least 6-months. It is a disorder in which people interpret reality in an abnormal way and may have some combination of hallucinations, delusions, and disordered thinking and behaviour that impairs daily life.
The lifelong prevalence for schizophrenia ranges from 0.3-0.7%.
Signs and Symptoms
Delusions are strict beliefs that a person will not change despite there being evidence to the contrary. The beliefs can be about being harmed, that others are judging them, that they have exceptional abilities, wealth, or fame, that others are in love with them, that a major catastrophe will occur, or about health problems. Sometimes, delusions can be very bizarre and seem completely disconnected from reality, yet others may seem plausible but still not based on real evidence. Some people will experience hallucinations which are categorized as perceptions of experiences that are not experienced by others. Hallucinations can be auditory (hearing voices), visual (seeing things that others don’t see), or tactile (feeling things that are not there). Disorganized thinking or speech includes thoughts or speech that does not seem relevant to the situation or not related to a given conversation. It will be disorganized enough to impair communication with others. Abnormal motor behaviour includes childlike “silliness” or agitation that seems unpredictable. These problems will affect normal daily functioning. Some will experience catatonic behaviour which is a severe decrease in movement or slowing of movement. Some people will have a bizarre posture and may not speak. Others will have excessive movement, stereotyped movement, staring, grimacing, mutism, or echoing of speech.
Treatment for schizophrenia is lifelong and continues even if the symptoms subside. Psychotherapy and medication are typically helpful however hospitalization may be required in some extreme cases. A psychiatrist will be necessary for diagnosis and treatment with medication. They can also be in charge of psychotherapeutic treatment however there may be a treatment team that could include a psychologist or other mental health professional. Medications typically include antipsychotics. Psychotherapy may include individual therapy and family therapy to help the family cope with the symptoms as a group.
The Mayo Clinic: Mayoclinic.org
Video Resource: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WQ7oEn8DmR8