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April 2, 2012 at 10:15 AMComments: 0 Faves: 0

What Exactly is Schizophrenia?

By Brad Plaggemars More Blogs by This Author

Hello and welcome to Mental Marvels-where the focus is on brain behavior and mental phenomenons.

Today I thought that I would visit a topic that most people do not know much about: schizophrenia. Many people would say that they have an idea of what schizophrenia is, but I decided to explore this disorder more thoroughly.

The Definition of Schizophrenia

What is schizophrenia?  According to mayoclinic.com, schizophrenia is:

A group of severe brain disorders in which people interpret reality abnormally. Schizophrenia may result in some combination of hallucinations, delusions, and disordered thinking and behavior.

5 Types of Schizophrenia

There are 5 types of schizophrenia: paranoid, disorganized, catatonic, undifferentiated, and residual.

  • Paranoid

Paranoid schizophrenia is the most common type of schizophrenia. Paranoid schizophrenia consists of auditory hallucinations or delusional thoughts concerning persecution or conspiracy. Those who have this type of schizophrenia can be more functional in regards to work ability and engaging in relationships compared to the other types of schizophrenia. The hallucinations or delusions people with paranoid schizophrenia tend to experience usually revolve around one specific theme.

  • Disorganized

Disorganized schizophrenia is a type of schizophrenia that causes a person's thought process to become disorganized, as the name clearly states. Hallucinations and delusions often occur less in disorganized schizophrenia, but there could be potential evidence of such symptoms. People who have this specific type of schizophrenia often have trouble maintaining activities of everyday living such as getting dressed, bathing, or brushing one's teeth. With this particular type of schizophrenia, individuals are usually impaired in emotional processing. People with disorganized schizophrenia may also have difficulty communicating in an effective manner.

  • Catatonic

Those with catatonic schizophrenia often experience disturbances in movement. People with this type of schizophrenia may undergo a dramatic reduction in activity, "to the point that voluntary movement stops". Actions that may appear pointless can be repetitively performed due to the lack of involvement in productive activities. Those who have catatonic schizophrenia might also exhibit immobility or resistance toward attempts to change how they appear. People affected "may voluntarily assume unusual body positions, or manifest unusual facial contortions or limb movements."

  • Undifferentiated

People affected with undifferentiated schizophrenia possess symptoms that are not adequately formed or specific enough to allow classification into another type of schizophrenia. The symptoms that a person may experience can fluctuate at different points of time.

  • Residual

This type of schizophrenia is one that is diagnosed when a person does not display prominent symptoms. The symptoms usually lessen in severity. Symptoms may be present, however, the appearance of such symptoms are quite diminished compared to the acute phase of the disorder.

Symptoms of Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is diagnosed when at least 2 of these symptoms are present for at least one month:

  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations
  • Disorganized thinking
  • Agitation
  • Affective flattening-"The person's range of emotional expression is clearly diminished; poor eye contract; reduced body language"
  • Alogia-"A poverty of speech, such as brief, empty replies"
  • Avolition-"Inability to initiate and persist in goal-directed activities (such as school or work)"

Not only do at least 2 symptoms have to occurs for at least a month, but there also must be constant signs of disturbance persisting for at least a six month period. During this time, signs of the disorder may be presented in a more mild form.

Causes of Schizophrenia

The University of Maryland Medical Center claims that:

No single cause can account for schizophrenia. Rather, it appears to be the result of multiple causes such as genetic factors, environmental and psychological assaults, and possible hormonal changes that alter the brain's chemistry.

Treatments for Schizophrenia

  • Medication
  • Supplemental therapy-types of therapies include "psychosocial or cognitive therapy, rehabilitation day programs, peer support groups, nutritional supplements"
  • Personal therapy
  • Glycine
  • Electro Convulsive Therapy (ECT)
  • Antioxidant Vitamins (C, E, Alpha Lipoic Acid, etc)
  • Healthy Diet
  • EPA Omega-3 Fish Oils

There are other forms of treatment that are still in production and will available sometime in the not too distant future.

Sources:

http://psychcentral.com/disorders/schizophrenia/

http://www.umm.edu/patiented/articles/what_causes_schizophrenia_000047_2.htm

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/schizophrenia/DS00196

http://www.schizophrenia.com/

Photo Credit:

riccardo bruni

Joe Skinner Photography

Aaron Goselin

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