As of 2014, there were about 318.9 million people living in the United States. According to statistics provided by The Kim Foundation, about 26.2 percent of the US population that is 18 years old and older are diagnosed with a psychological disorder. In 2004, 57.7 million people dealt with a psychological disorder. One of the most dangerous illnesses of them all is Schizophrenia. It is a long-term psychological disorder of a type involving a breakdown in the relation between thought, emotion, and behavior, leading to faulty perception, inappropriate actions, and feelings, removal from reality and personal relationships into fantasy and delusion, and a sense of mental fragmentation.
Schizophrenia was first recognized by Dr. Emile Kraepelin in 1887. It was first named “dementia praecox”. Kraepelin was the first to separate this illness from other types of psychosis. However, the disease itself can be traced back to the Old Pharaonic Egypt where symptoms that are usually correlated with schizophrenia are written in the Book of Hearts. Hints of this illness’s existence is also seen in Greek and Roman literature where evil spirit possessions are described.
There are also older traces of this illness that date back to the Stone Age. Some archaeological discoveries were made of Stone Age skulls with burr holes drilled into the skulls. It is assumed that this was to release the evil spirits. Prior to scientific research and studies, people did not see this as mental illness. It was seen as a punishment from the divine or a demonic possession. There is even evidence of this written in the Old Testament.
As stated by the National Alliance on Mental Illness schizophrenia is known to affect about 2.4 million or 1.1 percent of adults in the United States yearly. It is apparent that this mental illness is not at all rare for it affects one in five adult Americans. (NAMI 2015) Mental illnesses have been around for a significant amount of time before us and continues to affect today’s population.
There are several key symptoms that those who are diagnosed with schizophrenia show. These symptoms are categorized into three broad ideas which are positive symptoms, negative symptoms, and cognitive symptoms. Positive symptoms include unusual thoughts or perceptions, hallucinations, delusions, disorders of movement, and thought disorder. Hallucinations involve seeing or hearing things that do no exist in reality. However, the individual dealing with schizophrenia sees objects and hears voices that to him or her are very much real. Usually the hearing of voices is the most common. Victims of this illness also develop a communication impairment. There are times when the individual is asked a question, and their response may be irrelevant to what they were just asked. In rare cases, they may put together words that cannot be understood. This is sometimes referred to as “word salad.” Word salad is a confused or unintelligible mixture of seemingly random words and phrases, specifically as a form of speech indicative of advanced schizophrenia. They may also develop motor disorders that can range from “childlike silliness” to unpredictable agitations.
Examples of this is not being able to follow direction and perform the task they are asked to do, odd postures , they are unresponsive, as well as an excess of movement occurs. The other category of symptoms are the negative symptoms. This is referred to the lack or the reduction of the ability to do normal tasks or activities. This includes the loss of the ability to make plans, express emotions, speak, or finding pleasure in everyday life. These symptoms are often confused and can lead someone to believe that the individual showing these symptoms may just be suffering from depression. A person experiencing negative symptoms may not be able to make eye contact, change facial expressions appropriately, nor speak with emotion. These symptoms show a reduction in appropriate social behaviors amongst others as well as the reduction of the ability to do normal tasks such as speaking, socializing, as well as neglect ion of personal hygiene may be seen. Cognitive symptoms is the last category of schizophrenia symptoms. These symptoms show problems with attention, certain types of memory, and the functions that allow us to plan and organize ( The Kim Foundation 1). Cognitive symptoms may sometimes be hard to recognize in an individual who might be dealing with schizophrenia. These symptoms are extremely disabling and greatly reduces the ability to function normally and to carry out with daily activities.
The causes of schizophrenia are not yet known. However, researchers say that there are several contributing factors that can lead to the development of schizophrenia. Genetics and environmental factors together are believed to be a major part in the development of the illness. It is known that 10 percent of those with a first-degree relative with schizophrenia develop the disorder. Those who have a second-degree relative with this illness also have a higher chance of developing it themselves. Identical twins have the highest chances with it being 40 to 65 percent. Scientists believe that several genes cause this and not just a single one (NIMH 1). In the environment aspect, being exposed to viruses and malnutrition before birth , problems during birth and other psychosocial problems may contribute to its development(NIHM 1). Scientists also believe that an imbalance in the chemical reactions of the brain that contain the neurotransmitters dopamine and glutamate may have something to do with schizophrenia. It is also seen that the ventricles that are in the center of the brain are sometimes larger in those who are diagnosed. Less gray matters is also seen in schizophrenics as well as less or more activity in certain areas of the brain. Scientists have also found small changes in the exchanges of brain cells that happened after birth. Small mistakes that occurred during the brain development before birth may later appear when puberty hits an individual. The changes that the brain undergoes during this period can cause psychotic symptoms to appear.
There are several treatments that have been developed for those who suffer from this. However, there are positive and negative effects with this treatment the positive is that there are antipsychotic medication and psychosocial treatments that deal with schizophrenia. On the negative side however, the treatments only help treat the mental aspect of it. It does not help control behavior and social interaction. One has to go through rehabilitation to improve it. Antipsychotic drugs help relieve hallucinations, delusions, and thinking problems. Antipsychotics work by changing the way certain chemicals, called neurotransmitters, act in the brain. They help control the function of brain circuits involved in thinking, mood, and awareness. Psychosocial treatments is social skills training this helps improve one’s communication and social interactions with others. Since schizophrenia develops between the ages of 16 and 30 people may need to go through rehabilitation which may include job counseling, problem-solving support, and education in money management. Even though medication is available, they can have uncomfortable and noticeable side effects. However, further research and studies are now being done to help those who suffer from this illness.
In conclusion, schizophrenia is a critical disorder that affects millions of people in the US. People who do not receive proper treatment, are at risk of destroying their relationships with everyone they know. People that have schizophrenia often show signs between the ages of 16 and 30. These signs are social withdrawal, loss of appetitive, loss of hygiene, hallucinations, disorganized speech and the thought of being controlled by an outside force. Relationships tend to fall apart and create problems because of schizophrenia. This is a psychological disorder that shouldn’t be taken delicately and if it gets worse, then the person or people that have this disorder should seek immediate medical attention to help them get through this.
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