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Schizophrenia: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

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What is Schizophrenia?

The World Health Organization defines schizophrenia as a severe mental disorder marked by pronounced cognitive interference (x). It affects speech abilities, critical thinking, arithmetic, logic and perception.

Symptoms of Schizophrenia

Schizophrenic symptoms split into three categories — positive symptoms, negative symptoms and cognitive symptoms (x):

“Positive” Symptoms

“Positive” symptoms are actively abnormal behaviors, including:

  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions (x)
  • Dysfunctional thinking
  • Unusual or agitated body movements

“Negative” Symptoms

“Negative symptoms,” on the other hand, are disruptions to normal behaviors such as:

  • Reduced emotional expressions
  • Reduced feelings of pleasure
  • Difficulty beginning & keeping up with activities
  • Reduced speech

Cognitive Symptoms

Cognitive symptoms are sometimes subtle, but for some patients they are more severe. These behaviors include:

  • Inability to understand information to make decisions with it
  • Trouble focusing
  • Inability to use information immediately after learning it
Schizophrenia Symptoms

Phases of Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia occurs in a cycle of three phases. Patients may experience any or all parts of the cycle in their lifetime (x):

Prodromal Phase

Usually occurring between ages 25 to 35 in females and 15 to 25 in males, in this phase, the patient exhibits changes in feelings, behavior and thinking. However, they are barely noticeable. Symptoms include withdrawal, irritability and difficulty remembering or concentrating.

Acute Phase

In this phase, the psychotic earmarks are more pronounced. Hallucinations and delusions begin to appear while the patient struggles with routines that require memorization and socialization.

Recovery Phase

The recovery phase follows an active psychotic episode in which the symptoms start to fade and the person regains insight on their behavior.

Causes & Risk Factors

Heritability

There are several different causes, but evidence suggests that genetic vulnerability and environmental factors can act together to cause schizophrenia. It does run in families, but there is no one specific gene that causes it. Instead, it’s more likely a result of combinations of genes (x).

Drugs

Although drug use doesn’t cause schizophrenia directly, studies show a correlation between them. Drugs are a trigger for schizophrenic symptoms in people who are already impressionable to them. For example, amphetamines and cocaine cause psychosis and potentially relapses for someone in the recovery phase (x).

Dopamine Theory

This theory claims that the behaviors and experiences associated with schizophrenia relate to changes in dopamine function in the brain (x). 

Schizophrenia in Children

Although rare, children occasionally develop schizophrenia. However, their symptoms may be different than those of adults. Schizophrenia is difficult to diagnose in children, but there are some warning signs (x, x):

  • Odd behavior and/or speech
  • Confusing TV and dreams with reality
  • Sudden academic issues
  • Personality changes
  • Neglecting personal grooming
  • Fearfulness and paranoia
  • Detailed and bizarre ideas

Treatment

Schizophrenia patients can reduce and treat their symptoms over time with medication and different forms of therapy (x):

Medication

Antipsychotics can relieve delusions and psychosis, but people with schizophrenia are usually hesitant to take them due to a lack of awareness of the illness.

Psychotherapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy challenges the patient’s negative perceptions of the world and of themselves in order to change unwanted behavior or thinking patterns (x).

Supportive Psychotherapy

Supportive psychotherapy helps the patient process their experience in the present, rather than uncovering past experiences.

Cognitive Enhancement Therapy

Cognitive enhancement therapy promotes confidence in the patient’s cognitive ability, using computer-based training and in-person sessions.

Other Treatments

Some researchers support natural treatments for schizophrenia including (x, x):

  • Antioxidants
  • Omega-3
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin B

Coping Skills

In addition, there are natural coping skills that schizophrenics can take advantage of (x):

  • Accepting the diagnosis
  • Communicating with doctors
  • Joining a support group
  • Using relaxation techniques
  • Avoiding buying into the stigma

Supplements for Brain Health

Although there is no way to prevent schizophrenia, supplements benefit the brain’s well-being (x). However, make sure to take note of the proper and recommended dosages:

Pure Glycine Powder

Recommended in servings of 1,000 mg one to three times a day depending on a physician’s advice, glycine powder helps in energy production and muscle maintenance. Its antioxidants also help prevent oxidative stress (x, x).

Pure Quercetin Dihydrate Powder

The recommended dosage for quercetin dihydrate powder is a quarter teaspoon (250 mg) to half a teaspoon (500 mg) of quercetin dihydrate powder once or twice daily or as recommended by a medical professional (x).

Ginseng Root Extract Powder

Ginseng root promotes concentration and cognitive function. Usually, it is recommended in 1,000 to 2,000 mg doses once or twice daily, unless otherwise stated by a doctor (x, x).

Green Tea Polyphenols Powder

Green tea polyphenols powder is recommended in 500 mg doses once or twice daily. Do not take more than 1,000 mg a day or use it for more than three consecutive months. Excessive intake beyond the prescribed timeline may lead to liver and/or kidney damage (x).

The Bottom Line

Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that disrupts behavior, speech, logic and perception. Symptoms can be “positive,” “negative” or cognitive. There is no single cause, but researchers state that it can be hereditary and triggered by chemical imbalances or drugs.

Though there is no cure for schizophrenia, sufferers can control and reduce their symptoms with medication, therapy and coping skills. There is also no preventative maintenance, but supplements can promote cognitive strength for a healthy mind.

By: Christian Jean Francia

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Christian Jean Francia


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