Schizophrenia & Psychosis
Schizophrenia is a psychiatric condition that may present a broad spectrum of symptoms including psychosis. It commonly develops during adolescence or early adulthood but can occur at any age.
There are many contributing factors, such as genetic, social, and environmental causes, that may lead to the development of schizophrenia. We do not always know what are the exact causes, but some of them include:
Difficult childhood, trauma, and other stressors
Family history of schizophrenia
Developmental or cognitive problems
Symptoms of schizophrenia
These symptoms can be broadly classified to positive and negative symptoms. Positive symptoms refer to the presence of symptoms, which include hallucinations, delusions, disorganised thoughts, speech, and behaviour, as well as movement disorders. On the other hand, negative symptoms refer to the absence of symptoms, which include flattened affect (lack of emotions, flat voice etc.), anhedonia (lack of interest in usual activities), social isolation, and loss of energy.
Hallucinations include auditory, visual, tactile and even olfactory and gustatory sensations. This means that a person may hear voices or see things that may not be there; they may even feel sensations or smell or taste something.
Delusions are persistent and false beliefs that may be bizarre (clearly impossible) or non-bizarre. For example, a patient has bizarre delusions if he believes he has the ability to fly, and has non-bizarre delusions if he believes the police is after him when they are not.
These symptoms may occur abruptly or over a period of time. Poor outcomes are often associated with a gradual onset of symptoms.
People with schizophrenia may also have other mood and anxiety symptoms. They are also more likely to have other comorbidities, such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and other chronic diseases.
Diagnosis and treatment
If you suspect that you or your loved ones have the abovementioned symptoms, do should consult a medical doctor or psychiatrist. A doctor will be able to screen for the relevant symptoms and refer you or your loved ones to a psychiatrist who can manage the condition. They will also exclude other possible conditions that may present with similar symptoms, such as drugs and toxins, neurological problems, and other medical conditions that may cause an acute condition called delirium.
In terms of treatment, medications may help with the symptoms. Patients will also be monitored closely to ensure there is no suicidal ideation, that the symptoms do not worsen, and that the medications are not causing any major side effects. They are also encouraged to undergo psychosocial and behavioural therapy, which may require the help of social workers, counsellors, and psychologists to help patients return to normal lives. They are also effective in preventing the relapse of condition.
At times schizophrenia and psychosis may be used interchangeably. However, they are not exactly the same. A patient with schizophrenia may present with psychosis, which is defined as being out of touch with reality. Patients with other medical conditions that do not fulfil the criteria of schizophrenia may also experience psychosis. This includes other psychiatric conditions such as mood and anxiety disorders, as well as endocrine or infectious diseases. People who abuse drugs may also experience psychosis.
For more information, please visit: https://youngminds.org.uk/find-help/conditions/schizophrenia/