Affecting barely 1% of the US population, roughly 3.
5 million adults aged 18 or older, Schizophrenia, or “Schizo” is one of the most disabling diseases affecting humankind (“How schizophrenia affects the brain”, 2015). Schizophrenia is classified as an extreme and chronic brain disorder that interferes with a person’s ability to think clearly, manage emotions, make decisions and relate to others. There are numerous other symptoms and factors that follow “schizo” which are not involved in multiple personality disorder (dissociative identity disorder), however the two are easily confused to the under educated.
For decades, research on the etiology of schizophrenia has been dominated by theories associated with genetics and neurotransmitters. Psychotic disorders as such nearly always emerge in late adolescence or early adulthood, with onset peaking between the ages of 18 and 25. The reasons for its appearance in this age range have not been identified (“Schizophrenia – Fact Sheet”).Contrary to public perception, Schizo is not caused by previous childhood events, poor parenting or lack of willpower, however, the symptoms are not identical for each person.
Although it’s not recognized what just quite is the source of schizophrenia, to a majority of researchers it is believed that a certain union of genetics, environment and brain chemistry play a part in the development of the disorder. Scientists recognize that the disorder appears to run in families and that a person inherits a tendency to develop the disease over time. If a parent, brother, or sister are affected, the chances go up by 10% and if both parents are affected, this chance increases to 40%. Indistinguishable to some other genetically-related illnesses, schizophrenia has a possibility to appear when the body undergoes hormonal and physical changes like those that occur during puberty or extensively stressful situations.
But some of those affected with schizophrenia have no history of it in their family. Scientists think that in these cases, a gene may have changed and made the condition more probable. Differences in genetic code can sometimes increase one’s odds for developing diseases like schizophrenia as well and doctors believe there is more than one gene that can be a potential cause of schizophrenia. Environment is also a potential factor to schizophrenia development. If a patient were to be exposed to certain viral infections before they were born, chances of getting schizophrenia are instantly increased.
This may also be true if someone didn’t get proper nutrition from their mother while she was pregnant, especially during her first six months of pregnancy. Schizophrenia involves a range of problems with cognitive behavior or emotions. Signs and symptoms may vary, and also have the possibility to come and go, all depending on the person.
(“Schizophrenia”, 2016) While signs begin occurring sooner in men than women, signs have a tendency to appear between the ages of 16 and 30. Often times, sufferers have close to no clue at all that they are psychologically ill until informed formally by a medical professional. Signs and symptoms viewed as “positive”, are simply actions not commonly witnessed by “healthy people”.
These signs and symptoms involve one being convinced of false beliefs that do not exist in reality, seeing and hearing things that don’t exist, disorganized thinking and speech, and abnormal motor behavior. The “negative” symptoms are correlated with disruptions to “normal” emotions and behaviors, including decreased expression of emotions in facial expressions and/or tone of voice. Symptoms in teenagers however, may be harder to recognize because of natural personality and hormonal changes which would emit the same symptoms. These symptoms may include reduced motivation, depressed or irritable mood, insomnia, poor performance in school and isolation from friends and family. Also, compared to symptoms in adults, teenagers hold a higher chance to have visual hallucinations, yet are less prone to delusions of reality.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), diagnosing schizophrenia is not easy. Some complications stem from the tendency of the patient not being aware that they are a sufferer, which adds complexity to any diagnosis. In order to be clinically diagnosed with schizo, one must exhibit two or more of the above stated symptoms, occurring for a significant period of time during a 1-month period. (“NAMI”). However an exception stands when “severe” delusions or hallucinations consisting of one or more disembodied voices maintaining an ongoing commentary of the patients thoughts and actions, will pose as enough physical evidence for a diagnosis alone. Though there are no specific physical, psychological or lab tests that can singlehandedly diagnose the disorder, an MRI or a CT scan may be used in order to rule out other disorders or illnesses such as: brain tumors and bipolar disorder. Therefore, medical professionals can assess the symptoms through a series of prolonged observations through the a set period of said person’s illness, or a psychiatric evaluation in order to gain a full understanding of the disorder.