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Schizophrenia is a chronic mental condition that impairs the affected individual from accurately processing reality. Unfortunately, individuals who are schizophrenics will experience reoccurring symptoms that will have life long implications. The best way to help a person with schizophrenia is to be aware of who will be most susceptible to the condition, symptoms, and treatment methods of the disorder.
Schizophrenia affects just over 1% of the American population and only 2.5% of the global population. The prevalence of schizophrenia is relatively equal in men and women. While the amount of men and women diagnosed with schizophrenia is equivalent; the ages at which the condition becomes apparent differs. Generally, males begin to exhibit schizophrenic behavior around the age of 25. But, female schizophrenics do not begin to display behavior until the age of 30. In recent years researchers have spent more time studying schizophrenia; which has resulted in earlier detection of the condition.
Recent research has allowed for the documentation of teenage schizophrenia. Teenage schizophrenia has proven to be vastly more common in males than females. Doctors are now able to diagnose patients with schizophrenia as early as 16 to 19 years of age. The nagging question doctors are working to answer is, what causes schizophrenia? Currently the best answer to the aforementioned question would be; a variety of factors contribute to schizophrenic development.
MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) technology allowed doctors to determine that schizophrenics have an atypical brain structure. The atypical brain structure of schizophrenic plays a role in the chemical imbalance attribute associated with the disorder. The strange structuring of a schizophrenics brain creates an imbalance of neurotransmitters (chemical messengers to nerve cells) that reside there, but researchers are not able to say with certainty whether this neurotransmitter imbalance is a cause or effect of schizophrenia. Another theory is, the faulty neurological wiring created by the abnormal brain structure of the patient causes schizophrenia. The faulty neurological wiring of a schizophrenic partially explains the symptoms endured by the patient (hallucinations and paranoia), because it impairs communication between the left and right side of the brain resulting in decreased informational processing.
The symptoms associated with schizophrenia are distinct and when left untreated become painfully evident. Frequently patients with schizophrenia begin to exhibit a general paranoia. The patient’s paranoia will develop to the point where the schizophrenic feels as if they are under constant surveillance or inspection. Other schizophrenics may hear sounds, voices, or commands only they can hear; in certain cases these voices may instruct the schizophrenic to do harm to themselves or others. A classic symptom of schizophrenia is known as “delusions of grandeur”. A delusion of grandeur is characterized by an unfeasible belief maintained by the patient such as having x-ray vision or the ability to communicate telepathically.
Schizophrenia is typically treated through use of medication and therapy. Schizophrenics are treated with anti-psychotic medications (Thorazine and Haldol) which minimize the occasions where patients experience reality slips. Schizophrenics also benefit from cognitive behavior therapy, psychotherapy, and programs that will teach proper socialization with fellow members of society.