SchizophreniaSchizophrenia is a mental illness about which there are many misconceptions. Not all patients hear voices or have delusions. Read here what this psychosis is characterized by and what the therapy is like.
Schizophrenia – What is the?
Schizophrenia is a mental illness, which can be severe without treatment. The clinical picture belongs to the so-called endogenous psychosis. According to the definition, a psychosis is a mental illness that is caused by a faulty perception or. is characterized by a misinterpretation of the environment. This leads to loss of reality, delusions, hallucinations, emotional disturbances and other symptoms. An endogenous psychosis such as schizophrenia develops from within, i.e., without any apparent influence of external factors. The ICD codes for this disease are F20 and F21.
Worldwide, approx. one percent of the population suffers from schizophrenia, in Germany it is currently about 800.000 people. Thus the disease is by no means rare. About as common in our country as chronic rheumatism. Both sexes are equally affected, although the disorder usually manifests earlier in men. The first signs of schizophrenia can usually be seen in the in young adulthood Observe. Schizophrenia in children is rather rare and often remains undetected. Important to know: Patients have No split or multiple personality. Thus, they do not, as is often seen in Hollywood movies, carry different personalities that alternately emerge. This disease is called dissociative identity disorder. It has other causes. Is also treated differently than schizophrenia.
What are the causes of schizophrenia?
It is not possible to say exactly why some people become schizophrenic. Experts ame that it is caused by an interaction of hereditary, biological and psychological factors acts. Patients are often more sensitive than their peers, so stressful life events, bullying, and trauma can promote the development of schizophrenia. In addition, those with the disease metabolic disorders and altered structures in the brain. Various drugs, including Ritalin, are suspected of causing such a change in the brain and thus psychosis.
The amption that the causes lie in childhood is considered outdated. A unstable parental home and a wrong style of upbringing alone are not responsible for the development of the mental disorder. It is possible, however, that such family conditions lead to increased vulnerability, which in turn promotes schizophrenia. Whether also drugs such as Cannabis (grass), amphetamines (speed), LSD and cocaine are among the risk factors that can trigger schizophrenia is currently still being discussed. It is certain that drug use can cause symptoms similar to the disease, including delusions and hallucinations. If schizophrenia is present, illicit drugs, as well as alcohol, can cause a new episode. In addition, the course of the disease worsens significantly.
Alcohol consumption can cause a schizophrenic episode. (c) Rainer Fuhrmann / Fotolia
What are the symptoms of schizophrenia??
The symptoms of schizophrenia are many and vary from person to person. One distinguishes several symptom types: Among the positive schizophrenia symptoms include an distorted perception, hearing voices and paranoid delusions. These occur mainly during an acute episode of the disease. In addition, there are negative symptoms that predominate during the chronic phase, for example drive disorders, loss of interest and social withdrawal. In addition cognitive symptoms: These include, but are not limited to Attention disorders, concentration problems, thinking and speech disorders. Nevertheless, the patient's consciousness is not clouded. Intelligence not diminished.
Depending on the severity of the symptoms, there are three different forms of schizophrenia. The most common paranoid schizophrenia, problems predominate here, such as sensory hallucinations, delusions of persecution and relationships. patients rather through emotional. Cognitive deficits to. They often behave inappropriately, irritate their fellow human beings and can hardly express themselves verbally in acute phases. With the catatonic schizophrenia, a rather rare form of the disease, psychomotor disturbances are in the foreground. The affected person is agitated, shows striking, bizarre-looking movements of the arms and legs, or simply freezes with an uninvolved facial expression.
How does the doctor recognize schizophrenia??
The diagnosis is usually a Specialist in psychiatry. At the beginning there is a detailed interview, which may include close relatives. The physician clarifies various points: Does the patient show signs of Ego disorder? Feeling persecuted or feeling that others mean him harm? If speech disorders or concentration problems occur? Several of these criteria must be fulfilled and the disorder must occur over a longer period of time for a definite diagnosis to be possible.
A comprehensive physical and neurological examination is then performed to rule out other diseases that may cause symptoms similar to those of schizophrenia. These include epilepsy and brain tumors, for example, but bipolar disorder and depression are also conceivable causes of the symptoms. In order to rule out an organic cause, for example, an Magnetic resonance imaging or a Computed tomography of the brain arranged. Substance abuse as a trigger for delusions. To detect hallucinations.
How schizophrenia is treated?
With appropriate therapy, usually a combination of medication and psychotherapy, the symptoms become weaker and less frequent. The risk of a new episode of the disease decreases. During the acute phase, the first step is to stabilize the affected person – this may require a Hospitalization necessary. If there is a lack of insight into the illness, compulsory hospitalization may be necessary. For the treatment of psychosis Neuroleptics used to correct the distorted perception. Complementary Antidepressants and tranquilizers are given. Electrical stimulation of the brain, which was often used in the past for psychoses, is rarely used today: electroconvulsive therapy is only used if the schizophrenia is accompanied by movement disorders that cannot be treated with medication.
Treatment options also include a cognitive behavioral therapy with a psychologist. It helps to reduce stress and anxiety, to understand one's own feelings, Recognizing early warning signs and ultimately accepting the illness. The duration of therapy depends on the type. The severity of the symptoms varies. Important: It is not advisable to end a schizophrenic episode without medication, as the success of the therapy is jeopardized. Complementary natural healing methods can be tried in consultation with the treating physician and therapist.
How can I prevent schizophrenia??
Since hereditary factors play an important role in the development of schizophrenia, this disease can be cannot be specifically prevented. However, it is possible reduce the risk of an outbreak – Especially if there is a family history of schizophrenia: reduce stress and psychological strain and avoid drug and alcohol use. Also pay attention to Warning signals from your body and see a doctor early. Among the Early signs of schizophrenia include, for example Irritability, sensitivity to light and sound, sleep problems, and listlessness.
What are the chances of recovery in schizophrenia?
Is schizophrenia curable? There is no general answer to this question. Fact: The symptoms can be treated with the appropriate medication and accompanying psychotherapy Well treatable. An acute episode can be successfully treated in this way, but in about a quarter of all patients it remains during a single episode of the disease. Schizophrenics are therefore not necessarily terminally ill. A good half experience several episodes of the disease, but even here recovery occurs in 25 to 30 percent of cases in the course of the healing process. Chronic, severe limitations have another quarter of all affected persons. However, with the help of suitable treatment, they can also achieve an improvement and increase their quality of life. Spontaneous recovery has also been observed: A study published in the journal "Psychological Medicine" reports self-healing of the damaged areas of the brain.
With a combination of medications and psychotherapy, patients can achieve a largely lead a normal life. They may enter into a partnership, experience sexuality and take up a job. As a rule, no danger emanates from the affected persons. They are also not normally prone to violence. Due to suicides and accidents resulting in death, their Life expectancy nevertheless lower than in healthy persons. It is therefore all the more important to start a tailored therapy as soon as possible after the diagnosis of schizophrenia.