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Schizophrenia Awareness Day

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Today is Schizophrenia awareness day. Schizophrenia is a chronic brain disorder that Dr. Emile Kraepelin first diagnosed in 1887. Even though Schizophrenia has been diagnosable for over a century, its cause is still somewhat unknown. To this day, it remains one of the most misunderstood and stigmatized disorders. 

Schizophrenia is very complex, which is why there is a lot of false information surrounding it. People who have Schizophrenia do not always have a split personality disorder or multiple personalities. Most people with Schizophrenia are not any more dangerous or violent than people in the general public. 

Schizophrenia is considered a syndrome, meaning it encompasses several related disorders with similar symptoms but varying causes. 

Symptoms 

A person who has Schizophrenia is unable to distinguish between actual events and unreal experiences. The severity of symptoms can vary depending on the individual case. 

We can distinguish between two types of symptoms - positive symptoms and negative symptoms.  Positive symptoms are symptoms that add, and negative symptoms are symptoms that take away.

Positive symptoms 

  • Hallucinations (hearing voices or seeing things that don’t exist)
  • Psychosis 
  • Paranoia
  • Exaggerated or distorted perception and behaviors. 
  • Disorganized thinking 

Negative symptoms

  • A loss in personality 
  • Decrease in the ability to initiate plans, speak, and express emotion 
  • Neglect of personal hygiene
  • Limited eye contact 
  • A loss of interest in everyday activities 

Causes 

The cause of Schizophrenia is still unknown, but many scientists believe that it is a combination of genetics, brain chemistry imbalance, and environmental contributors. 

Schizophrenia is a genetic disorder that can be passed down through many generations. Family members of those who have Schizophrenia are 10 times more likely to develop Schizophrenia than others. However, if you do not have Schizophrenia in the family, then your chances of developing it are 1%. 

Most people are diagnosed with Schizophrenia once they experience psychosis which occurs in the late teens or early adulthood years. Psychosis is asevere mental disorder in which thoughts and emotions are so impaired that contact is lost with external reality. It can result in feelings of paranoia, delusional thinking, and hallucinations. Psychosis can be induced by smoking marijuana (environmental factors). 

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Treatment 

Treatment for Schizophrenia can help those who suffer from the disorder to live highly functional lives. Once the symptoms are controlled, there are many types of therapies that can help rehabilitate those suffering. 

The most common treatment is antipsychotic drugs. These types of drugs block Dopamine receptors, and they can be beneficial in reducing the positive symptoms (which are linked to the access of dopamine. However, the same medication can also make negative symptoms worse. But the advances in medicine have given way to many treatments that help people with Schizophrenia live normal lives. 

It is crucial to be sensitive to those who have Schizophrenia, and it is important to recognize that this disorder is highly stigmatized. People with Schizophrenia who are being treated can live very functional and meaningful lives just like everyone else. 

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