Schizophrenia Symptoms: All you need to know
Schizophrenia is a chronic mental health disorder where individuals interpret reality abnormally and it affects the way they behave, think, and see the world Schizophrenia characterizes a combination of delusion, hallucinations, abnormal thinking and impaired behavior affecting daily activities.
Schizophrenia is not to be ignored! Schizophrenia is not curable, but if left undiagnosed, this condition can worsen, hence timely treatment is needed to manage schizophrenia symptoms. A schizophrenic person can cause harm to self and to others. Early detection of Schizophrenia Symptoms in adults can help the person to manage schizophrenia and live a normal life.
Signs and Symptoms of Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia usually starts amid ages 16 and 30. It disproportionately affects men more than women. A schizophrenic person needs a collaborative treatment of medications, therapy, social support, lifestyle modifications etc. It is estimated that 50 percent of the people can lead normal lives with schizophrenia, while 50 percent need family or medical support. The hard fact lies in that there is poor awareness about this psychiatric disorder and caregivers can suffer more than the suffering individuals.
To learn more about what are the symptoms of Schizophrenia and how a schizophrenic person deals with their daily life. Watch this video of a popular film ‘A beautiful mind’ based on a protagonist who struggles with Schizophrenia.
What are the symptoms of Schizophrenia Disorder?
There are two types of symptoms majorly seen in schizophrenia i.e. positive and negative. The concept of positive and negative symptoms of schizophrenia has been around for quite a while. A schizophrenic person may exhibit positive symptoms or negative or even a combination of both. Like some individuals may experience negative symptoms at first and positive symptoms later on vice versa.
Positive Symptoms of Schizophrenia
Why are they called positive symptoms? Does it mean that they are good or beneficial? The answer is ‘No’. These positive symptoms do not imply that the patient is cured. Schizophrenia causes a surplus of mental experiences and positive symptoms refers to those which are in excess or added to normal mental functioning. Positive symptoms consist of hallucination such as hearing voices and delusions.
- Hallucinations: Here the individuals tend to feel, hear, smell, see things that are not real. Among them, hearing voices (auditory hallucinations) are most common. Sometimes the individual misinterprets their self talk as coming from an external source. Visual hallucinations are also quite common.
- Delusions: Delusions are strong false beliefs that the individuals have and they can be of any kind. The person may believe that their thoughts or actions are being controlled by some external forces. The person may also believe that they have supernatural powers and they may feel that he/she is a famous personality.
- Disorganised thoughts and speech: Individuals with schizophrenia can experience difficultly in organizing thoughts. They are, easily distracted or unable to follow the given instructions. When they talk, their word does not make senses, they answer question irrelevantly. Speech is also affected: they make speak disorganized manner, their statements may consist of meaningful but jumbled words creating a word salad.
- Disorganised behaviour: The individual may face issues with goal-directed self-care behaviour like poor personal hygiene, sudden impulsive and socially inappropriate behaviour may be seen. For example, the individuals may wear a cotton shirt in winter, and they may wear odd or improper makeup, or they may shout at others without reason etc.
- Disorganised movements: The individual may perform the same movements again and again, but sometime they may still and rigid in a particular posture and they cannot move for hours or days.
Negative Symptoms of Schizophrenia
Negative symptoms are where the individual may have a lack of facial expression, have monotonous and monosyllabic speech. They may seem to be less interested in other people. They find it difficult to experience pleasure or act spontaneously. A schizophrenic person tends to lack interest in activities. These symptoms are hard to recognize in teenagers because healthy adolescents also may have frequent mood swings.
- Apathy: The individual may have an absence of enthusiasm for activities that were interesting to them, for example, their work or studies or entertaining activities such as sports. Likewise, they may quit caring for themselves properly and decreased cleanliness and appearance are noticeable. They may feel hesitant to go out or even their room.
- Emotion less or blunted: The individual may not react appropriately when they heard good news or bad news. For example, laughing at sad news or feeling unhappy when hearing good news.
- Decreased speech: The individual may have low interest in talking with others and they were unable to respond properly to a particular question. Lack of communication skills can affect individual ability to take part in all activities or find employment.
- Social withdrawal: The individual may keep away from social contact and they have an interest in being alone. There is a difficulty with mingling the people around them.
- Impaired attention: The individual may have trouble concentrating on discussion and lack of concentration on even simple tasks.
- Anhedonia: Anhedonia means unable to experience pleasure. The individuals may often feel empty or hollow.
- Laziness: The person may have difficulty in doing day-to-day activities and also feeling tiredness frequently. This may cause them to spend major time of the day watching television.
Negative symptoms affect greatly on an individual’s quality of life and influence their ability to experience many facets of life such as long term relationships, financial stability, and work.
Schizophrenia treatment includes a combination of medications, therapies, social support and lifestyle changes to help reduce Schizophrenia symptoms. Even if a schizophrenic person feels better within a few months of treatment, long term treatment for schizophrenia is very crucial to avoid new episodes and to effectively manage
Early diagnosis and appropriate treatment can prevent complications. Family and friends play a major role in encouraging and supporting the individual to seek treatment and follow it.
There is no single health test or a brain scan that can suffice for the diagnosis of schizophrenia. Since the doctors are still unaware of the exact cause of schizophrenia, to determine how to treat schizophrenia, multiple psychometric tests and exams need to be done before confirming the diagnosis. These health exams comprise of the following:
- During the initial appointment checkup, the doctor needs to know the entire medical history of the patient and their family, followed by their normal mental health, mood patterns, and substance abuse problems. They may also ask for school or work performance reports to get insights into the cognitive abilities of the patient.
- For the next step, the doctor may prescribe several blood tests, physical exam and imaging tests like Computed Tomography (CT) scan and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI).
- Even psychometric assessments are essential to establish the diagnosis.
- For the final step and confirmed diagnosis, the patient should have experienced symptoms of ‘positive’ schizophrenia in a one-month period. These symptoms are hallucinations, delusions, and disorganized speech.
People with schizophrenia lose interest in things. One of the common examples is a lack of self-interest in hygiene and grooming. These signs can be hard to find, especially in cases of teenagers, because of the reason that teens have big emotional mood swings between highs and lows. Also, depression has the same symptoms as that of schizophrenia. One-fourth of people diagnosed with schizophrenia meet the criteria for depression. It’s very easy to misjudge a person’s disorder as the following symptoms are common in depression and schizophrenia –
- Depressed mood nearly every day
- Diminished interest in all activities
- Significant weight loss or gain
- Sleep disturbance (insomnia or hypersomnia)
- Psychomotor agitation (restlessness)
- Retardation (slowing down)
- Fatigue or loss of energy
- Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
- Decreased ability to think or concentrate or decision making
- Recurrent suicidal ideation
Research studies show that family support is vital to help schizophrenic patients manage the symptoms of schizophrenia in adults. If you or your loved one is fighting Schizophrenia, seeking early treatment is key to a better quality of life.
Learn more about Schizophrenia treatment options, call us @+91 96111 94949