Most doctors make different diagnoses every day that affect the human body, our physiology: broken bone, thyroid failure, cancer, etc. There are various physical reasons why we may be sick. However, any symptoms have not only physiological but also psychological causes. Sleep disorders, lethargy, anorexia, lack of concentration, etc. are often symptoms of mental illness, which are often not taken seriously enough. However, if left untreated, the first symptoms can increase and lead to psychosis. In many cases, the result is diagnosed schizophrenia.
Myth: A split personality
Schizophrenia is thought to have existed as long as humans existed. However, the disease itself was not recognized until 1887 by Dr. Emile Kraepelin interpreted as such. In the past, diseases affecting the psyche and spirit were defined as mental illnesses and associated with evil, the devil. It didn’t matter if it was a congenital disability or a developed mental disorder. Everything triggered the fear of the devil’s obsession with the affected people, so they were locked or, at worst, killed.
For a long time, schizophrenia was referred to as a “bifurcated personality,” which is also a term derived from ancient Greek. However, this is a misconception, because neither the personality nor the mind is split in the disease. However, because people with this diagnosis often feel controlled from the outside and sometimes hear voices, it has been interpreted as something demonic that internally divides people and makes them evil and unpredictable. In fact, schizophrenia has nothing to do with a bifurcated personality. However, people with disabilities suffer from negative connotations that are still widespread. This word is also sometimes used as an insult when someone is acting inconsistently or confused. In order to break out of this stigma, knowledge and education about the disease are needed.
Signs of mental illness
The first signs of possible schizophrenia may appear years before diagnosis. Because people with disabilities are often restless, tense, they sometimes have sleep disorders, mood swings, fears, depressed moods, and memory and concentration problems. Relatives often notice a change in character. If these warning symptoms do not respond, they may continue to manifest and trigger other symptoms that eventually lead to a diagnosis of schizophrenia:
- hallucination: such as hearing voices or perceiving something as real that is not really there
- delusion: here the paranoia is the strongest, as is the constant fear that everyone has conspired against you
- language disability
- ego disorder: one feels detached from the “I” and controlled from the outside
- Movement abnormalities: such as a constant urge to move
- Stunning feelings: many complain of complete inner emptiness and strong mood swings
- social refuge
The changes in the brain that can cause these symptoms occur again and again over the course of human life. The gray matter, consisting of the bodies of nerve cells, increases in early adolescence. Connections between nerve cells, called synapses, are produced in excess. However, the gray matter then decreases again until early adulthood, which can sometimes lead to impaired brain development. In other cases, schizophrenia is genetic.
types of schizophrenia
There are different types of schizophrenia, the best known being:
- Paranoid schizophrenia: This type of person has a constant feeling of being observed and influenced. The emphasis here is on delusions and hallucinations.
- Hebephrenic schizophrenia: Hebephrenic schizophrenia mainly affects people aged 15 to 25. This is where emotional changes come into play. Feelings do not correspond to the situation and therefore seem inappropriate.
- Catatonic schizophrenia: This form of schizophrenia is rather rare and is associated with abnormalities in movement, such as a strong urge to move or make faces.
How to treat schizophrenia
Once the symptoms of schizophrenia are recognizable, a doctor should be consulted, who will then take a medical history and perform a physical and neurological examination. In addition, an imaging procedure such as magnetic resonance imaging is performed to rule out possible organic brain diseases. If all examinations support the diagnosis of schizophrenia, individual therapy is created for the affected person. The following treatment options are especially useful:
- Medications: These drugs are called antipsychotics and block the activity of certain chemical messengers in the brain that alleviate the symptoms. In addition, some doctors take antidepressants and benzodiazepines. However, these should be taken with caution, as they can sometimes be highly addictive.
- Different types of therapy: Such as psychotherapy, training of social skills and cognitive functions, movement therapy, sociotherapy, etc.
The fact is, there are ways to get out of schizophrenia or learn to live with it. The sooner you see a doctor for any symptoms, the better – but this applies to all diseases.