Schizophrenia is a complex disorder characterized by hallucinations (mostly being hearing voices), delusions (beliefs with no basis in reality), and disturbances in speech. Psychiatrists classify the symptoms into negative and positive categories for schizophrenia. The positive symptoms include hallucinations, delusions, thought disorders, and an altered sense of self. The negative symptoms are a lack of motivation or apathy, blunted feelings, depression or social withdraw.
There are three main types of Schizophrenias. The first type is Paranoid Schizophrenic; people with this suffer preoccupation with persecutory and/or grandiose delusions. The second type is Disorganized Schizophrenic; they suffer from speech and behavior problems and they have a flat of inappropriate affect. The third type is Catatonic Schizophrenic; in this case the person gets motor immobility or excessive motor activity that is purposeless, peculiar movements, echolalia or echopraxia.
In America there are about 2.2 million people with this illness. That might seem like a lot, but most of the cases get overlooked. They sometimes get called “Nervous Breakdowns” or just “Bad nerves”. There have been studies done to see if different groups of people have a greater tendency to get the illness. But so far nothing has been proved. Some groups might seem like they are less at risk, but nothing can be proved so until then there can be no connections made. Although studies show that cases of the illness in Europe have declined over the years, in America they have increased slowly just about every year. So they are trying to figure out why this is.
Changes in the chemistry of the brain, changes in the structure of the brain, genetics, viral infections, and head injuries all play a part in what may be the cause of this disease. There are billions of nerve cells in the brain, each one having branches that transmit and receive messages from other nerve cells. The chemicals that these branches release to send messages from the end of one nerve branch to the cell body of another are called neurotransmitters. In someone that has schizophrenia, something goes wrong with this communication system.
The main cause of schizophrenia is heredity. Family members of someone with the illness have a 10 percent chance of getting the illness. In the case where both parents have the illness their children have a 40 percent chance of developing the illness also. According to Danish and U.S. researchers, children that are born when their fathers are over the age of fifty are at increased risk of developing the disease too. And the risk may be slightly higher in girls than in boys, suggesting that a new mutation on the X chromosome might be the cause of some cases of schizophrenia. They are also trying to figure out if different types of brain damage can increase the chances of getting the illness. There are many different beliefs but a lot of them have not been proven yet, so they are still theories.
In older times Schizophrenia was looked down upon. They didn’t know it was a sickness. They believed the people were possessed by demons. There were many people killed, because they were believed to be crazy and possessed. It went on with these beliefs for centuries. Then in the late 18th century beliefs in modern psychiatry started to surface, it was then when they started to look at it as an illness. Most stories in the old times about people going mad are explained now by a mental illness. It would have been better for these poor people back then, if they knew what they know now.
There are many ways to treat this illness. The one that seems to work best is medication. Using the least amount of medication possible to manage the positive and negative symptoms of schizophrenia effectively, as well as to minimize unwanted side effects is the goal of medication therapy. That means giving the patient antipysychotic drugs, in five different families. The families are Phenothiazines, Thioxanthines, Butyrophenones, Dibenzoxazepines, and Dihydroindulres. The Phenothiazines family contains drugs like Thorazine, Mellaril, Serentil, Stelazine, and others. The Thioxanthines family is made of the drug Navane. The Butyrophenones family is made up of Haldol and Orap. The Dibenzoxazepines family contains Loxitane. The Dihydroindolones family is made up of Moban. The efficacy of these drugs is well established. Studies show that approximately 70 percent of patients on these medications clearly improve, 25 percent improve minimally or not at all, and five percent get worse. These are the almost the same results you would get from taking Penicillin for Pneumonia. The results are even more impressive when the drugs are giving to the patent in the form of an injection. But like all drugs these to may have negative side effects on patients. Some of the common side effects are sedation, dry mouth, blurred vision, stiffness, tremors, and weight gain.
These medications are very expensive. For example, a 30 day supply of Clozapine would cost a pharmacist 317.08. For a 30 day supply of Olanzapine the price would be 324.86. Then you would have to add 40 percent to that and that would be what the patient is paying a month. Drug treatment is usually continuous, as relapse of symptoms is common when medication is discontinued.
There are other types of treatments for schizophrenia also. Depending on the severity of the symptoms the patient may be admitted to a hospital. Supportive therapy is usually when a person goes to a healthcare professional who helps them try to recall the emotions and events that happened before a minor episode so that they may recognize approaching signs of trouble. It also teaches life skills, such as using medication, getting a job and handling their finances. Electro-Convulsive Therapy (ECT) is done today by giving the patient a muscle relaxant and putting them to sleep, then using a small electric current on the patient’s temples to produce a seizure. Generally this does not help out schizophrenia and it is only done to patients that do not respond to medication and that pose a serious safety risk. Nutritional treatments rose out of a theory that said schizophrenia may be caused by a lack of Vitamin B and consisted of mega doses of niacin (Vitamin B3) and neuroleptic medicine together. Some people believe in different treatments, but for me medicating the patient seemed to be the one with the most proof and results behind it.
In conclusion, listed below are some facts about schizophrenia. Approximately 2.2 million Americans have the illness in any given year. That’s eight people out of every 1000. There are about 900,000 individuals with the illness who are not being treated. There are more people with the illness in jails then there are in hospitals and mental health clinics. In the year 2000 the United States spend about 40 billion dollars directly and indirectly on Schizophrenia. About 10 billion of the 40 billion was spend on federal disability payments for individuals with Schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is not now curable, but through the use of medication and psychotherapy, the positive symptoms of schizophrenia can usually be controlled.