Of all the different forms of psychotic disorders, schizophrenia is considered the most serious. A person with this type of mental disorder suffers from a severe and crippling form of distorted thinking. Specifically, a person afflicted with schizophrenia is known to have fragmented perceptions, ideas, and emotions. Putting it another way, the schizophrenic person’s ability to think and his/her emotional responses become disordered or confused; he/she loses the ability to distinguish between reality and fantasy.
But what causes schizophrenia, or why are there persons who become schizophrenic? To answer these questions, it must first be mentioned here that the field of psychiatry has gathered enough evidence pointing to a physiological disturbance in certain parts of the brain (those that mediate thought, emotions, and mood) as being involved in schizophrenia. Psychiatric studies found certain abnormalities in two specific areas of the brain – the prefrontal cortex (the gray matter of the anterior part of the frontal lobe) and the limbic system (a group of subcortical structures).
Only a few of the abnormalities, however, are specific to schizophrenia and they have likewise been observed in other types of mental disorder. While schizophrenia may develop at any age, it seldom appears in childhood or after age fifty. Inasmuch as the parts of the brain that appear to be affected in this condition do not usually become fully developed until early adulthood (the time of life the condition sets in), it is suspected that the still undiscovered, underlying brain defect may be existing at birth or early in life.
Some researchers also believe that the brain defect does not affect a person’s functioning until the affected brain parts come to a crucial stage of development. It is then that the person’s capacity for taking action with regard to the psychological and social tensions of life appears to be contingent on the proper functioning of the brain areas involved and the systems of chemical transmission that serve them. Consequently, the reciprocal influence or action of environmental factors with biological assailability may very well set off the development of schizophrenia.
The next question that must be answered here as well is, “how is schizophrenia treated?” This mental disorder is treated primarily with a range of psychosocial supports coupled with neuroleptic drugs (major tranquilizers), which are the mainstay of treatment for psychotic episodes seen in schizophrenia. One example of neuroleptic medication is the drug that goes by the generic name “thiothixine” and is sold under the brand name “Navane” (of Pfizer U.S.P.G.).
Different neuroleptic drugs require different dose levels. Therefore, careful monitoring and supervision by a psychiatrist are of the utmost importance. It may take a few weeks before a neuroleptic drug begins working. In some cases of this mental disorder, treatment can be gradually reduced; in other cases, an invariable low dose may be required.
Hospitalization may be required during the critical stage of schizophrenia, when the affected individual is out of touch with reality. Rehabilitation services and family therapy may also help a great deal in treating a schizophrenic patient. With effective treatment, many individuals with this mental disorder can lead relatively normal, productive lives.
1. “The Causes of Schizophrenia” – http://www.schizophrenia.com/hypo.php
2. “Schizophrenia Treatment” – http://www.schizophrenia.com/sztreat.html
3. “Schizophrenia – Symptoms and Treatment” from the Internet Mental Health – http://www.mentalhealth.com/dis/p20-ps01.html