1. Schizophrenia: An Introduction Schizophrenia is one of the world’s most studied psychological disorders. It is notable for the severity of its symptoms and their effects on those suffering from it. The American Psychological Association defines ‘schizophrenia’ as ‘a serious mental illness characterized by incoherent or illogical thoughts, bizarre behavior and speech, and delusions or hallucinations, such as hearing voices’ (apa.org). Schizophrenia affects cognitive processes.
For example, though it is proved effective with treating anxiety and depression, its effectiveness in treating schizophrenia is most doubted. Meta-analysis shows that treatment of schizophrenia with CBT needs to be further researched as other methods, or a combination of methods prove more helpful (Pilling 2002) However, its effectiveness is significant when treatment is given in combination with other support. For example, studies have shown that community psychiatric nurses, specialising in treating the early stages of schizophrenia are effective, especially with medication and normal care/ monitoring alongside the treatment (Turkington et al
Other problems with treatment programs for schizophrenic’s is that they suffer from both positive and negative symptoms, each requiring different type of treatments. In order to combat the difficulty of treating schizophrenia, several techniques have been devised; psychoanalytic therapy, behavioural therapy, family therapy and most predominantly, drug therapies. Drug therapy is the primary form of treatment implemented at the onset of schizophrenia. The drug clozapine is very effective for many patients who do not respond to initial drug treatment programs and treats both the positive and negative symptoms of schizophrenia (Advokat et al., 1999; Robinson et al., 1999). Moreover, a reduction in negative symptoms has also been noted to occur as individuals are treated with amisulpride and (Danion et al., 1999).
The study comprises more than 4000 paediatric patients and age ranges were varied between children and adolescents in the trials (p.80). As the results from precious findings have been ambiguous, this research aimed to provide further evidence and validity on the effect on antidepressant (SSRI) that leads to suicidal risk in children and adolescents. It was reported that Europeans authorities by pharmaceutical companies were recognized and studied for events related to suicidality, where suicide was defined as having suicide attempts or suicidal thoughts (p.79). No completed suicides were shown in the results (p.81). On the contrary, it was revealed that the results agreed with the hypothesis as at least one study with an amplified risk for events related to suicidality in the active compound group for each compound was found to be significant (p.82).
Treating Schizophrenia The term schizophrenia is used to designate the disease which is classified as an abnormal disintegration of mental functions. Schizophrenia is a serious and debilitating mental illness which is characterized by its symptoms being: loss of contact with reality, withdrawal from society and bizarre disorganization of speech and ideas. When these symptoms begin to occur an observer will begin to notice a slow and painful spiral into schizophrenia. The psychiatric world has taken a physiological and psychological approach to the disease; utilizing assessing the disease. The organic pathology of schizophrenia can be expressed in different ways.
After the age of forty-five, often time’s people do not get schizophrenia and although schizophrenia rarely occurs in children, awareness of childhood-onset schizophrenia is increasing (The National Institute of Mental Health, 2009). Men tend to experience symptoms and more severely than women and those who suffer with schizophrenia have a higher risk of suicide and of substance abuse. Approximately ten percent of all people with schizophrenia commit suicide. Addiction to nicotine is the most common form of substance abuse in people with schizophrenia (The National Institute of Mental Health, 2009). When comparing their nicotine addiction to the general population the percentage rates is 75 to 90 percent versus 25 to 30 percent, this means that those who suffer with Schizophrenia is three times the rate of the general population (The National Institute of Mental Health, 2009).
According to (Savy and Sawyer, 2009) neurological, metabolic, genetic and psychological causes are contributing factors for various types of mental illness like depression, schizophrenia, substance abuse and progression of condition. An elaborate system known as DSM-IV-TR gives a classification system that acts to separate mental illness into diagnostic categories based on the description of symptoms of illness (Savy and Sawyer, 2009). The exact primarily causes of mental illness are complicated, however, it seems to occur in a psychologically and biologically prone individual, in the trigger of environmental and social stress (Elder, Evans and Nizette, 2007). In some cases the causes of mental illness primarily found inside the individual. Some of them have been associated with an abnormal balance of neurotransmitters in the brain.
Treatments include antipsychotic medications that come with a slew of negative side effects, psychosocial treatments, illness management skill therapy, and cognitive behavioral therapy. Schizophrenia is often accompanied by substance abuse, so rehab often comes along with treatment of the disorder. Nobody really knows exactly what causes schizophrenia, which is one of the things that makes it so interesting. It appears to be a culmination of many different factors. These many factors include: genetics- schizophrenia is up to 80% heritable (Picker, Psychiatric Times), prenatal complications, slower fetal growth, which sometimes indicates cerebral atrophy, hypoxia near the time of birth, prenatal infections, childhood infections, childhood antecedents, substance abuse, and life experiences.
The risk is highest for an identical twin or a person with schizophrenia - with a 40-65% chance of developing the disorder. Scientists believe that an imbalance in the chemical reactions in the brain involving the neurotransmitters may play a role in the development schizophrenia. The brains of people with schizophrenia also show small differences such as enlarged ventricles, less gray matter, and some areas may have less or more brain activity. Schizophrenia affects men and women equally and occurs at similar rates in all ethnic groups. Symptoms will usually start between the ages of 16 and 30 but men tend to start experiencing symptoms earlier than women.
Introduction to Schizophrenia Schizophrenia is a severe mental disorder that “disrupts the function of multiple brain systems, resulting in impaired social and occupational functioning” (Lewis & Sweet, 2009, pg. 706). Lewis (2009) suggests these functions usually consist of the confluence of disturbance in perception, attention, volition, fluency and production of language, recognition and expression of emotion, and capacity for pleasure. Schizophrenia has calamitous effects on people, and such devastating illness afflicts “0.5%-1% of the world’s population” (Lewis & Sweet, 2009, pg. 706).