What is Schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia is a brain disorder that involves delusions, loss of personality, confusion, agitation, social withdrawal, psychosis and bizarre behavior. Generally appearing in late adolescence to early childhood, schizophrenia commonly arises in men between the ages of 15-35 and women 25-35. However, schizophrenia does not only affect the individual with the disorder, but family, friends and society as well, for many people with schizophrenia are unable to care for themselves.
While the patient suffering from this schizophrenia have to learn to cope with this mental illness for the rest of their life, acquiring treatment can aid in leading a rewarding productive and meaningful life. To this day there exists no laboratory or physical test that can undeniably diagnose schizophrenia, but from observing the patients clinical symptoms, a psychiatrist can make a diagnosis and administer treatment for schizophrenia. The medical management of this disorder involves the drugs used to treat psychosis, depression and anxiety.
Affecting approximately 1% of adults across the globe, schizophrenia is a complex, chronic, disabling brain disorder that experts speculate may be many illnesses masked as one. Research indicates that the illness arises from faulty neuronal development in the brain of the fetus, which emerges as a mental illness later in life. The brain consists of billions of nerve cells that interact to send and receive messages. Endings of these nerve cells release neurotransmitters, which are types of chemicals that relay messages from one nerve cell to another. In the brain of an individual with schizophrenia, this messaging system is not working properly. Experts believe an absence of the neurotransmitter, dopamine, is involved in the onset of schizophrenia. They also believe that an individual’s genes have a large contribution to the development of this disorder. While an individual with no history of schizophrenia in their family has a less then 1% change of developing the disorder, that risk rises to 10% if one of your parents suffered from schizophrenia.
Often the person with schizophrenia may conceal their symptom from others out of fear or confusion. There also exists the factor that the disorder might cause the patient to experience paranoia and become suspicious of family or friends that try to help. For these and many other reasons, schizophrenia can be difficult to diagnose.