Psychiatric disorders are relatively common though they are getting more awareness nowadays. One psychiatric disorder that is very uncommon is schizophrenia which is a chronic and often disabling mental illness that affects how a person thinks, feels and acts according to Mental Health American of Illinois.
According to an article on healthline.com written by Valencia Higuera and medically reviewed by Timothy J. Legg, the specific cause of schizophrenia is not known however they could be biological due to chemical abnormalities according to research, genetic due to family history, or even environmental such as exposure to toxins or a virus before birth or during infancy, having an inflammatory or an autoimmune disease or high stress levels.
Symptoms of schizophrenia are grouped into:
- Early symptoms which usually commonly show up in the teenage years and early 20s and may even be initially ignored because of typical adolescent behaviours. They include isolating oneself from friends and family or changing friends or social groups, a change in focus and concentration, problems with sleep, irritability and agitation, difficulties with schoolwork, or poor academic performance.
- Positive symptoms: These are behaviours that aren’t usually common with healthy individuals such as hallucinations, delusions (when you believe something to be true in spite of contrary evidence), thought disorders (weird ways of thinking or nformation processing), and movement disorders (which refer to an agitation in movements or strange body postures).
- Negative symptoms: These affect and get in the way a person’s regular emotions, behaviours, and abilities such as disorganized thinking or speech (where the person changes topics rapidly when speaking or uses made-up words or phrases), inability to experience pleasure, difficulty with planning, initiating or completing activities, and social withdrawal. These are sometimes confused or misdiagnosed as depressive symptoms.
- Cognitive symptoms: Sometimes, these are very subtle and hard to detect but can affect memory and thinking such as difficulty with paying attention, learning and understanding information and making good decisions with, even being unaware of their symptoms
Schizophrenic symptoms can be hard to detect, so a complete psychiatric examination is needed. It also has no cure; however, there are antipsychotic medications that can be used to control the symptoms and reduce hallucinations, delusions, and agitation. Schizophrenia is estimated to affect about 1 percent of the population which is why the World Schizophrenia Day which was on the 24th of May is important for more awareness. Let’s be more empathetic with people who have mental health illnesses like schizophrenia.