Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that impairs the brain's ability to express and identify emotions, and hinders the thinking process of the brain. It is an umbrella disorder with many sub types like paranoid, catatonic, disorganized, residual, and undifferentiated schizophrenia. One of the most widely misunderstood disorders across the world, schizophrenia affects more than a million Americans every year.
Although there is no known cure for schizophrenia, the disorder can be controlled, and the affected person is able to lead a normal life. Generally, the manifestation of this disorder initiates during early adulthood, and is rarely seen in children. Scientists believe that 'Nature and Nurture' both play a part in the etiology of schizophrenia. That is, the disorder can be a result of genetic predisposition and/or the social environment of an individual.
The different sub types of schizophrenia are characterized by a set of specific symptoms. For example, paranoid schizophrenia is characterized by hallucination and delusions. Bizarre body movements and echopraxia are signs of catatonic schizophrenia. Problems with behavior and speech are observed in case of disorganized schizophrenia.
In undifferentiated schizophrenia, some or all the signs of the other sub types are observed, and the condition cannot be identified as one particular sub type. Here, the symptoms can vacillate from one category to another. Some of the major signs are:
- Delusion: After psychological testing it was found that delusional behavior is one of the biggest indicators of schizophrenia. The affected individuals might believe that a family member or a friend is conspiring to hurt them. Sometimes, they identify themselves as a famous personality, like a famous musician, a TV personality, or believe they belong to a royal family.
- Unusual Speech: The thought process of schizophrenics is not stable, and usually there is no connection between their words or sentences. They try to accommodate different thoughts in one sentence, thereby framing a sentence without any meaning. They are also known to use imaginary words with imaginary meanings, and repeat the words uttered by others.
- Hallucinations: A feeling of experiencing sounds or sensations which are not real is common amongst schizophrenics. Auditory hallucinations are very common, and the affected individuals might hear sounds like music playing, drill machines at work, or even someone talking to them. Visual hallucinations are also experienced by these people, and they might see manifestations of things or people that are not real.
- Other Signs: Alogia, an inability to understand written or spoken words, is one of the key indicators of schizophrenia. A person will not be able to coherently reply to questions, or will not be able to frame correct sentences. Another sign is bizarre body movements, and the lack of personal hygiene. The affected person will also show signs of being in depression, being disconnected, and will avoid eye contact, stop speaking, and sometimes even stop body movements. An overall lack of interest is one of the early signs.
Diagnosis and Treatment
This mental illness cannot be detected through any test, and the diagnosis depends on the symptoms described by the friends and family of the affected individual. Schizophrenia develops slowly, and a careful observation is required for the correct diagnosis.
There is no clear treatment process for undifferentiated schizophrenia. Some believe that there is no cure, but with the help of medication and family support, the affected person can lead a normal life. Anti-psychotic medications can help to reduce or stop the hallucinations and delusions. Some psychotherapies that help the cognition process of the affected individual also go a long way towards their rehabilitation. Self help groups have also been very effective in helping people to deal with their precise symptoms and social pressures.
Disclaimer: This PsycholoGenie article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice.