Affect 1 in 5 People
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According to the Diagnostic Statistical Manual – 5th Edition (DSM-V), schizophrenia is a brain disorder characterized by a disruption of the usual balance of emotions and thinking. Symptoms usually include delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech and behavior, and other symptoms that cause social or occupational dysfunction. Symptoms must be present for six months and include at least one month of active symptoms to be accurately diagnosed.
The exact causes of schizophrenia are unknown. There are also studies that suggest there may be a slight connection between birth complications such as low birth weight, premature labor or lack of oxygen (asphyxia) during birth. Such complications can have subtle effects on brain development. (NHS 2014)
Substance abuse can also induce symptoms that are similar to schizophrenia, because of this some scientists theorize a connection between substance abuse and the development of schizophrenia. Symptoms of disorders caused by wet brain due to a chronic case of alcoholism, such as Korsakoff psychosis, or Wernicke’s encephalopathy, show similar symptoms to schizophrenia, such as visual or auditory hallucinations.
Research suggests that schizophrenia is caused by both genetic and environmental factors. Having a history of family psychosis affects the risk of developing schizophrenia. A first degree relative such as a parent or sibling, especially a twin, will show the highest risk. Research suggests schizophrenia to be both neurodevelopmental (impairment of the growth and development of the brain) and neurodegenerative (progressive loss of structure or function of neurons), researchers haven’t determined which one is more of a dominant cause, as they both are common occurrences. Epigenetic gene development plays a role in causing schizophrenia as well, studies show that environmental factors such as exposure to viruses, malnutrition, as well as psychosocial and socioeconomic factors are all part of epigenetic gene development. (NAMI 2014)
Antipsychotic medications are the most commonly prescribed drugs to treat schizophrenia. Some of the most common antipsychotics are chlorpromazine, fluphenazine, haloperidol and perphenazine. Antipsychotic medications will help alleviate symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions, thought disorder, loose associations, ambivalence or emotional lability. Antipsychotic medications can also cause involuntary movements, cognitive dulling and other side effects.
Supportive (reality-based) psychotherapy is a popular approach used to treat people with schizophrenia, and deals with the loss, disability and stigma arising from living with the disease. Supportive psychotherapy differs from other specific techniques, as it actively reduces the severity of some of the core symptoms caused by the disability. It is a dyadic treatment that is used to alter common symptoms of schizophrenia and maintain, restore or improve self-esteem, ego function and adaptive skills.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is also a common form of psychotherapy used to treat schizophrenia. In cognitive behavioral therapy, a patient is able to receive instruction and guidance on identifying thoughts, perceptions, worldviews and general thoughts and feelings that trigger symptoms such as visual or auditory hallucinations. The therapist works with the patients to help them realize their thoughts and feelings are only perceptions, and not actual fact. Eventually, the patients are able to recognize how to alter their perceptions of the world around them. This can greatly benefit the interpersonal skills for a person with schizophrenia.
Sovereign Mental Health offers treatment for schizophrenia, as well as other mental health disorders and any other co-occurring conditions. Utilizing top-notch evidence-based therapeutic modalities, our dual diagnosis program can offer outstanding results for mental health disorders, substance abuse disorders or both.
To learn more about our mental health program, click on our live chat link or call our admissions team at (866) 954-0529.