Schizophrenia is a very puzzling disorder. In all the years schizophrenia has been diagnosed, scientists are still unable to pinpoint a cause. Researchers say that environmental factors and possible chemical imbalances in the brain can cause the disorder, but there has been no proof yet. The only link known to schizophrenia is family. A person who has a schizophrenic parent is 10% more likely to develop schizophrenia than the general population. CAT scans have also shown some schizophrenics to have an abnormal brain structure, with one cavity larger that the others, but the cause of this is still unknown.
Schizophrenia has many symptoms. Delusions, hallucinations, disordered thinking, and distorted emotional expression are among a few of the problems.
Delusions are false personal beliefs that are unreasonable. The two major types of delusions are grandeur and persecution. In delusions of grandeur the schizophrenic may believe they are on top of the world - literally. Im delusions of persecution, common among paranoid schizophrenics, a person believes that they are being cheated, harassed, or conspired against. Some schizophrenics may believe that their thoughts are being broadcast aloud over television or that the television broadcaster is speaking directly to them.
A schizophrenic's thinking is also affected by their disorder. They may not be able to concentrate on one thought for very long, and are unable to connect thoughts in logical order. This results in them jumping from topic to topic, usually confusing those around them. This contributes to another problem in schizophrenics - social isolation. When people cannot make sense of what a person is saying, they tend to become uncomfortable around them and try to avoid that person.
Hallucinations are the most common symptom of schizophrenia. A schizophrenic may hear voices telling them what to do or what people are saying about them. They may also see things or people that are not there. Some schizophrenic's actually hold conversations with thier voices and act on what the voices tell them to do.
The last of the symptoms mentioned earlier is distorted emotional expression. This simply means that the schizophrenic shows emotions that are inconsistant with their thoughts or actions. One example is that a schizophrenic may say they're being persecuted by demons and laugh. Some schizophrenic's show just the opposite - they talk in a very monotonous tone and don't use much facial expression. Schizophrenic's also show symtoms common to manic depression - periods of extreme elation or depression - which leads in may cases to a misdiagnoses.
A lot of myths are around about schizophrenic's. One that I have heard is that schizophrenic's are violent. In researching, a study showed that a schizophrenic is no more likely to commit an act of violence that the "normal" population. In fact, schizophrenic's are usually withdrawn, making it harder for these acts of violence to occur.
The largest problem faced in schizophrenia is suicide. Schizophrenic's have a very high rate of suicide, largely due to the fact it is very hard to pick up on their warning signals. What would seem like erratic behavior to most would be normal behavior for a schizophrenic. It is for this reason that schizophrenic's have a higher suicide rate that any other mental illness.
Treatments for schizophrenia vary. Anti-psychotic medications have proven to be useful in diminishing the hallucinations and delusions, but it does not work for everyone. In extreme cases psychosurgery has been performed, but only after more realistic treatments such as electroconvulsive therapy have proven to be ineffective. A schizophrenic has ongoing therapy not only for themselves, but their family. In some cases, however, the schizophrenic's social behavior has been so impaired by their disorder that they are unable to live on thier own in a normal society. These people are usually placed in a residential center where they can live life to their norm.
Schizophrenia, as I said earlier, is a very baffling disorder. There is constant research not only into the disorder and its cause, but more importantly, its cure.