Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that seems to be caused due to genetic disposition or environmental factors like stress, trauma, or abuse. This is a very challenging mental health condition, where the affected person is not able to understand the difference between reality and fantasy. They cannot think clearly and are unable to control their emotions. A schizophrenic has his own take on reality that is far from true. They begin to hear things, see things, and feel things.
They are in constant fear of being harmed by the unknown or someone near to them. The confusion and fear in their minds tends to cloud their judgment. The affected people tend to move away from the society and begin to live an isolated life. This condition affects both men and women. It can strike as early as the adolescent age or may appear in adulthood. In very rare cases, childhood schizophrenia is also observed. It has been found out that there are about 2 million Americans living with this mental disorder.
Looking at the history of this mental disorder, there are 5 types that may affect an individual and that have been categorized by medical experts. These disorders are identified according to the prominent symptoms exhibited in each type and in each affected person. The symptoms may change over time. Therefore, it is possible that a person develops more than one type of this mental disorder.
It is one of the types, wherein the affected person develops delusions and auditory hallucinations. They begin to believe that someone in the government is conspiring against them, or people are sending over messages to them through the television, radio, etc. They feel they are being spied upon or plotted against by the people they trust or love. They may also hear voices that comment on their behavior, talk to them, and order them to do things. These people affected by this type are more functional and generally do not talk about their symptoms. This type is considered to be the most treatable from all other types.
The symptoms of this type include child-like behavior, disorganized speech, and behavior as well as unusual thought process. They are unable to organize their thoughts and connect them in a logical sequence. They have slurred or garbled speech that makes it difficult to understand what they are talking about. They are often affected by 'thought blocking', which is a symptom wherein one suddenly stops in the middle of a thought. When asked the reason, the affected person would say that the thought was pulled out of their minds by someone. They have a monotonous voice, blank, or immobile facial expressions and purposeless behavior. Furthermore, they cannot take care of themselves, personal hygiene, etc. This makes them more agitated and frustrated.
It is a type wherein the affected person is usually uncoordinated, clumsy, and has an unusual mannerism. They have disturbances of movement. Further, they tend to develop jerky movements and repetitively carry out these unusual movements like flapping their hands or thrashing their legs. In some cases, they become completely immobile. They would sit, stand, or stay in a strange stance for hours or days on end. They are completely unable to take care of themselves due to their behavior. Sometimes, the person repeats a single word or sentence over and over again. This is one of the rare types.
People who are long-term schizophrenics develop residual schizophrenia. The affected people do not show any of the positive symptoms of schizophrenia that include catatonic behavior, hallucinations, delusions, disorganized speech or behavior, etc. However, they show symptoms such as monotonous voice, blank face, lack of pleasure or happiness, inability to perform a planned activity, lack of interaction with others. These people need help with their daily activities as they cannot take care of themselves as well as in their basic hygiene.
This is a type in which the affected person exhibits symptoms that cannot be categorized. This means there are different symptoms that are prominent in each type, but cannot be grouped into any one of the types of the mental disorder.
Symptoms in Children
As mentioned above, there are rare cases where this mental disorder affects children. It can affect a child as young as 5 years or during the adolescent age. However, this is a very rare occurrence. Only 3 children in every 1,000 kids under the age of 12 develop this condition. The early signs and symptoms in children are not very specific.
The affected children may often have hallucinations, attention problems, poor social skills, depression, inconsistent body movements, lack of verbal communication, disorganized behavior, speech, and thinking, etc. Furthermore, a child with this disorder would have no or very little feelings, an inappropriate exhibition of emotions at the wrong place or time, and make poor eye contact.
This is a very challenging mental illness that has confused medical experts since ages. On observation of the aforementioned symptoms, it is always better to seek expert medical opinion. Early medical intervention is the best way for the treatment.
Disclaimer: This PsycholoGenie article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for the advice of a mental health expert.