Essay: Being diagnosed with schizophrenia

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Schizophrenia is a chronic mental disorder that affects your way of thinking and distorts your perception of reality. Schizophrenia does not just go away, it will require treatment throughout your entire life span. In this research I will have explained what it means to be schizophrenic and how to identify someone with the disorder, the origin of the disorder, the causes and treatments for the disorder, the risk factors associated with this disorder, what steps are being taken to help control this disorder in the population, and how much of the population actually possess this disorder.
 
Symptoms of schizophrenia vary from person to person, depending on age, gender, and severity of the disorder. Schizophrenia involves a range of problems with thinking (cognition), behavior or emotions (“Schizophrenia” “Symptoms”, 2016). The main symptoms you would see in someone who has schizophrenia would include hallucinations, delusions, disorganized thinking or speech as well as unusual motor behavior. Not all symptoms have to be present to be considered schizophrenic, these are just the major symptoms that would cause alarm or speculation of schizophrenia within a person. To dive deeper into the symptoms, hallucinations mostly involve the hearing sense and people with schizophrenia will tend to hear voices, but these hallucinations are not limited to hearing they can also be seeing things that aren’t there and are perceived as reality. Delusions do occur in most people diagnosed with schizophrenia and can be very odd to hear when spoken to a normal minded person. An example being someone with schizophrenia claiming that someone was directing their speech towards them or believing that everyone is out to get them. Disorganized thinking and speech, in regard to putting together sentences that make sense to what is going on, or the conversation being had, as well as understanding what is going on around them. Unusual motor behavior in someone with schizophrenia is someone who’s behavior is not goal intended. They could be acting like a three-year-old one minute and be fine the next, it could also include excessive movement or agitation as well as useless movements. Schizophrenics are almost always unaware of their mental disorder, so it falls on the ones around them such as relatives or people who come in contact with them on a daily basis to recognize the symptoms or to at least realize something is not right and get professional medical help.

Diagnosis for schizophrenia can appear to be quite tricky considering there is no lab work that can be done to verify the patient possess this disorder, instead a one on one interview is conducted with a doctor. The patient is asked a series of questions where the doctor is trying to explore into their mind and get a clear understanding of their background, and their day to day life. The two principal diagnostic methods used by doctors today in the diagnosis of schizophrenia are the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (known as DSM IV) which is used mainly in the USA and the International Classification of Diseases (ICD), 10th revision, which is used commonly in the UK and Europe (“Living with Schizophrenia”. “How”). The doctor can diagnose a patient off of how they describe their experiences in day to day life, but some patients are harder to diagnose than others because some patients may hold back critical information because their disorder is telling them that the doctor is against them, or not there to help them, going back to how some schizophrenics think everyone is out to get them. Karen Williams claimed, diagnosis removes individuality: an individual becomes a schizophrenic, someone who has depression, is personality disordered and so on. From then on, everything that individual does is measured against their diagnosis, their label (Williams, 2012).

According to Paul Goldsmith, schizophrenia afflicts approximately 1 percent people worldwide and is characterized by hallucinations, emotional withdrawal and a decline in cognitive function. These symptoms most frequently begin in patients when they are teenagers or young adults (Goldsmith, 2016). The origin of schizophrenia I would like to focus on is the biological origin, though one theory claims schizophrenia stems from our brains high metabolism for energy which induces schizophrenia. The word schizophrenia is only a little over a hundred years old, even before the term was used previous societies knew of mental disorders, not necessarily called mental disorders, but people new something was wrong with some people and some societies believed those people were bad or that they were involved in witchcraft, but they were not aware of the extent of the disorders, or how to treat them, or label them, or that they even existed. In human genetics there is a specific gene called complement component 4, otherwise known as C4, that highly increases the risk of schizophrenia in people who possess the specifically structured version of this gene.

The population we live in today contains individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia, at least 1.1 percent worldwide. Also, notably important, half of the people living with schizophrenia have yet to be medically diagnosed with the mental disorder according to the statistics based on the SARDAA website. There are many risk factors associated with schizophrenia, from what I have gathered the most prevalent one is having a family history of schizophrenia, first or second generation. Other risk factors may include but are not limited to, education level, income, pre-illness residence, marital status, development history, employment history, school history, prolonged delivery, age of father (Akal & Dogan, 2010). Age of the father meaning that if a gentleman is older and has children he is at a higher risk of passing away when the children are younger which causes an increased risk of schizophrenia. There are so many risk factors with schizophrenia, head trauma as a child is also a notable one.

The day to day life of a diagnosed schizophrenic can seem hectic to people with a normal mentality. Schizophrenics need constant reminders of times, schedule, and daily duties. They also use checklists a lot and try very hard to avoid multi-tasking. When we try to do two things at the same time we will end up doing both badly. In the end you will get more done if you concentrate on one task at a time (“Living with Schizophrenia”. “Healthy”.). Time-management and organization is key in an induvial living with schizophrenia. Some people living with schizophrenia may not even realize that anything is wrong because they are completely engulfed into a different reality that they see as true. That’s why it is paramount for family and friends to be aware of the possible symptoms so that help can be provided, even if the person is not schizophrenic another disorder may be present that needs treatment.

Schizophrenia cannot be cured but it can be controlled with proper treatment. Also, not all schizophrenics have to live in a mental institution, a good majority can live on their own with a near normal life once they recover. Anti-psychotic drugs are the main treatment of schizophrenia, but not the only one. These drugs will help reduce the symptoms in a patient but cannot guarantee that all symptoms will go away, the patient may still have to be hospitalized. The drugs can have side effects, such as physical agitation and muscle spasms. In addition, their long-term use causes permanent neurological damage (“American Psychological”). Mental support is also very crucial with a schizophrenic patient. Psychosocial therapy is also another means of treatment along with the anti-psychotic drugs. Psychotherapy can help a patient get back on their feet and re learn things, making them a happier person. Some people who are diagnosed schizophrenics lose the ability to communicate properly or form words, which would mean that they would need to take classes or training to get interaction with people to re learn those skills that are very critical to a normal life. Symptoms may go away for a while, but schizophrenia will require lifelong treatment. There are too many anti-psychotic drugs that can be prescribed for schizophrenic patients to go through them all, but in most cases once the right one is found it is effective and can lead a patient to living a normal life as long as the medication is continuously taken. One problem that comes along with having to take medication in pill form is that some patients may be resistant to the medication due to the paranoia the schizophrenia is causing the patient. Because medications for schizophrenia can cause serious
side effects, people with schizophrenia may be reluctant to take them. Willingness to cooperate with treatment may affect drug choice. For example, someone who is resistant to taking medication consistently may need to be given injections instead of taking a pill (“Schizophrenia” “Diagnosis”, 2016).

In conclusion schizophrenia is a chronic mental disorder that has no cure but can be treatable. It affects approximately 1.1 percent of the world population as of right now. The symptoms of schizophrenia can cause people to lose hope and will to live as well as cause them to harm themselves or others. Awareness of this disorder paramount, in order for family and friends or the person themselves to recognize that something isn’t right and seek medical attention, so they can receive the proper health and treatment needed to reduce the effects of the disorder. Studies of schizophrenia are still under works, but there are ways to diagnose it properly, just not with blood or lab work quite yet. Schizophrenia is a serious mental disorder and does not need to be taken lightly, there are claims that roughly only fifty percent of the population who possess schizophrenia are actually medically diagnosed with the disorder. Raise awareness and get help for those who need it.

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