Schizophrenia is a serious mental illness that affects how a person thinks, feels, acts, and relates to others. It is a complex and chronic disorder. Nearly 1 percent of Americans are afflicted with this disorder. It can develop during any age, however, for men it usually manifests during late teens or early twenties and for females during late twenties or early thirties. It is rarely diagnosed in a person younger than twelve years of age or older than forty years. Regardless of its complexity, it is possible to live well with this disorder.
Schizoaffective disorder is a mental disorder characterized by the symptoms of schizophrenia such as delusions and hallucinations and an affective disorder like mania and depression. Because of the presence of parallel symptoms, many people with schizoaffective disorder are diagnosed incorrectly with a bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. Nearly 0.3 percent Americans struggle with this disorder. Treatment from a reputable schizophrenia treatment center incorporates both medication and psychotherapy. It is also important to rule out co-occurring disorders, like substance use disorder, when treating a multifaceted condition like schizoaffective disorder.
Symptoms of Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia usually manifests between 18 and 35 years in men and a bit later in women. It is difficult to diagnose the condition in teens because they exhibit symptoms like irritability, change in friends, lower grades, sleep problems, etc. All these characteristics are as it is associated with teens. When teens display such characteristics in addition to isolating behavior, withdrawal from friends and family, getting suspicious and unusual thought processes, they might be diagnosed with schizophrenia. This period of disorder in young people is known as the “prodromal” stage.
Some of the symptoms of schizophrenia present for at least six months in terms of reduced functioning are:
These develop as one starts to hear voices, see something or someone and smell something. These are very real to the one experiencing them, but difficult to perceive by those observing the person. The voices could be threatening or critical and could belong to a known or an unknown person.
These are false beliefs that do not go away even when a person is presented with the facts. A delusional person might also have difficulty in concentrating, might be confused, and think that they have a blocked thought process.
The negative symptoms of this disorder, like being emotionally flat or disconnected, are usually confused with those of clinical depression. A person might not be able to start or follow through activities, display a general lack of interest in life, and have disturbed relationships.
Disorganized Thinking/Cognitive Issues
People with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder have difficulty remembering things, complete activities, and organize their thoughts. They struggle with anosognosia, a condition in which a person does not realize that they are unwell, making treating or working with them challenging.
Causes of Schizophrenia
There are several possible causes of schizophrenia. These may include:
- Brain chemistry: Schizophrenia develops when there is a problem with neurotransmitters like dopamine and glutamate. Neurotransmitters conduct signals between various nerve cells.
- Genetics: Schizophrenia is caused by an interaction of environmental and genetic factors. When present in a parent or sibling, the risk factor of developing the disorder rises to 10 percent. If diagnosed in an identical twin, the risk factor of developing it increases further to 50 percent for the unaffected twin. Having a history of psychoses in the family also positively affects the risk of developing the disorder.
- Environment: Malnutrition and exposure to viruses especially in the first and second trimester increase the risk of developing schizophrenia. Inflammation and an autoimmune disorder also compound the risk.
- Substance abuse: A growing body of evidence suggests that taking mind-altering drugs during teenage and young adulthood can increase the risk of developing schizophrenia. Smoking marijuana has also been associated with the early onset of schizophrenia.
Diagnosis of Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia diagnosis at a treatment center for schizophrenia may be tricky as sometimes, medicines like LSD or methamphetamine also cause schizophrenia like symptoms. In addition, people diagnosed with this illness do not believe that they are affected complicating treatment. There is no lab or a physical test that can testify the presence of this debilitating disorder in a person. However, if a health care provider examines the symptoms for over a period of six months, then they might make a diagnosis.
Before a final diagnosis on this is passed, the physician must rule out the possibility of a brain tumor, other medical disorders, and even mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder. To receive a diagnosis of schizophrenia, a person must exhibit two or more of the symptoms in terms of reduced functioning like hallucinations, delusions, disorganized speech, negative symptoms, and catatonic behavior, for a period of at least six months.
Treatment of Schizophrenia
Treatment for schizophrenia at a treatment center for schizophrenia involves the use of medication and psychosocial treatments like therapy. The antipsychotic medications used to treat this disorder have been in use since 1950s. However, a new version called atypical antipsychotics or second generation antipsychotics (SGAs) was developed around the 1990s, which is currently in use. When patients begin with the antipsychotics, they start experiencing side effects like drowsiness, blurred vision, sensitivity to sunlight, and a rapid heartbeat. Though these short-term side effects may subside gradually, a person might have to deal with the long-term side effects like weight gain, diabetes mellitus, and movement disorders. It is important that one notifies their health care provider as and when these side-effects appear.
Psychosocial therapy is of immense help for those who have already been stabilized by medicines. This can help patients learn life skills, handle work, communicate effectively, manage relationships, and take care of the self. Taking therapy sessions can also help a person recover better compared to those who do not take such sessions. In addition, therapy also enables one to learn more about their illness and coping mechanisms.
A person struggling with schizophrenia might find family therapy helpful. Family therapy enables the family members to understand the symptoms of the illness, why they appear and learn to navigate through them. Family therapy might also help mend broken relationships that fell apart because of the illness. Experts have also found self-help groups and peer support through group meetings useful in managing the disorder.
Some people struggling with schizophrenia might be dealing with substance use disorder (SUD), making the diagnosis a dual diagnosis. It is important to deal with co-occurring disorders concurrently so that one receives the complete spectrum of treatment.
Invictus Health Group and Schizophrenia
Treatment approaches for schizophrenia differ depending on an individual and the severity of their condition. Therefore, it is important to find an effective schizophrenia treatment program that addresses the disease in the best possible way. Invictus Health Group is just such a place as we have partnered with some of the best treatment centers across Southern California whom have state-of-the-art facilities. Our partners address not only the mental illness but also the underlying causes, like an addiction or any physical condition, to treat the disease effectively and help the person gain long-term recovery.
Employing evidence-based treatment interventions so as to recognize mental health disorders and any possible coexisting conditions that a person may be struggling with. These treatments include help for mild to moderate forms of schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder. Delivering customized and individualized treatments based on a comprehensive assessment of each patient that allows for a more accurate diagnosis and a better schizophrenia treatment program is what we strive for.
To learn more about intervention programs, call our 24/7 mental health treatment helpline 866-548-0190. Our team is available 24/7 and can answer any questions you have about our programs, the admissions process and your financial options. We accept most insurance plans. You can also chat online with a representative for further assistance.