Natural treatment of Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a severe and chronic mental illness that affects one percent of the population - around 24 million people in the world. People with schizophrenia have psychotic episodes during which they lose contact with reality and suffer from delusions and hallucinations.

 The behaviour responses of schizophrenics are difficult to under- stand, and they often cannot think logically. They do not suffer either from a 'split' personality or from multiple personalities.

CAUSES

 

The exact cause is unknown, but hereditary and environmental factors are involved. Anyone with a parent or sibling with schizophrenia has a 10 percent chance of developing the disease, and an identical twin of a schizophrenia patient has a 50 percent chance. Contributing to the risk are problems during pregnancy, such as influenza or other viral infection in the second trimester, mother- baby blood type incompatibility, oxygen deprivation at birth or low birth weight. The use of alcohol and street drugs, including ecstasy, LSD, am- phetamines, crack and marijuana, may trigger schizophrenia. What is not fully understood is whether such drugs bring on schizophrenia in people already vulnerable to the disease, or whether these drugs cause the same risk of development in everyone. It is known that alcohol and other drugs can worsen psychotic symptoms in those with schizophrenia. Stress - as it does with many other ailments - can worsen symptoms. Childhood abuse may also increase the risk. 

Other sings and Symptoms

·         Impaired communication skills

·         Incomprehensible or illogical speech

·         Inappropriate reactions (e.g. laughing at a funeral)

·         Emotional indifference

·         Infantile behavior (baby talk, giggling)

·         Peculiar facial expressions and mannerisms

There is no known way to prevent schizophrenia, although good prenatal care for pregnant women may help. To prevent psychotic episodes and other symptoms, it is important to get treatment and avoid alcohol and street drugs. 

The symptoms of schizophrenia may appear suddenly or develop gradually over years, but they often begin between the ages of 15 and 35. The average age for onset is 18 for men and 25 for women. It is unusual for the disease to start in childhood or late in life.

Symptoms must be present for at least six months and cause problems with work, school or social functioning. However, some people may suffer from just one or a few of the symptoms. Five different types of schizophrenia have been identified.

The symptoms of schizophrenia are often described as positive, negative and cognitive symptoms.

• POSITIVE SYMPTOMS These are the most common in schizophrenia, although they can occur in other mental illnesses. They include visual hallucinations, hearing voices, delusions, muddled thinking or thought disorder, feelings of being controlled and bizarre behaviour.

• NEGATIVE SYMPTOMS These are include emotional flatness, lack of pleasure or interest in life, difficulty communicating, and discomfort around others.

• COGNITIVE SYMPTOMS Schizophrenics have difficulty concentrating and remembering, organizing, planning and problem-solving.

 

Depression  is apparent before treatment in around half of people suffering from schizophrenia. In those with continuing symptoms, depression occurs in one out of every seven. No test exists to diagnose schizophrenia, so other causes - both physical diseases and mental disorders - must be ruled out. Laboratory tests as well as CT or MRI scans may be done. Although schizophrenia does cause brain abnormalities which may show up on CT or MRI scans, they are not sufficient for a diagnosis. 

 

Relationship problems. Relationships suffer because people with schizophrenia often withdraw and isolate themselves. Paranoia can also cause a person with schizophrenia to be suspicious of friends and family.

Disruption to normal daily activities. Schizophrenia causes significant disruptions to daily functioning, both because of social difficulties and because everyday tasks become hard, if not impossible to do. A schizophrenic person’s delusions, hallucinations, and disorganized thoughts typically prevent him or her from doing normal things like bathing, eating, or running errands.

Alcohol and drug abuse. People with schizophrenia frequently develop problems with alcohol or drugs, which are often used in an attempt to self-medicate, or relieve symptoms. In addition, they may also be heavy smokers, a complicating situation as cigarette smoke can interfere with the effectiveness of medications prescribed for the disorder.

 

Increased suicide risk. People with schizophrenia have a high risk of attempting suicide. Any suicidal talk, threats, or gestures should be taken very seriously. People with schizophrenia are especially likely to commit suicide during psychotic episodes, during periods of depression, and in the first six months after they’ve started treatment.

Treatment for schizophrenia, which includes both medication and psychological interventions, is more effective the earlier it is started. One in five people with schizophrenia will resume functioning reasonably well, but 10 percent will commit suicide.

• HOSPITALIZATION In some cases, symptoms are severe enough to warrant hospitalization until the patient is stabilized on medication.

• MEDICATION Antipsychotics can- not cure schizophrenia, but they can keep symptoms like delusions and hallucinations under control. The 'typical' antipsychotics, developed in the mid-1950s, reduce the action of a neurotransmitter, dopamine, in the brain. Although effective, they may cause side- effects such as Parkinson's disease- like symptoms, uncomfortable restlessness, sex life disorders and tardive dyskinesia (TO), which are persistent involuntary movements, usually of the mouth and tongue.

Newer antipsychotics, developed in the 1990s and later, are referred to as 'atypical'. They affect other neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, and are less likely to cause the Parkinsonian side-effects although they may result in weight gain, problems with sexual function, type 2 diabetes , and cardiovascular problems. They also have more effect on 'negative' symptoms than the typical antipsychotics. It may take multiple trials to find the drug that provides the best symptom control and fewest side effects for each patient.

• TALK THERAPY Individual talk therapy can be used to help patients identify and work out problems in daily living. In addition, counseling can provide support in the process .

• FAMILY COUNSELLING These sessions help all family members understand better and cope with the patient who has schizophrenia and reduce emotional triggers that bring on symptoms.

• OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY Occupational therapists can help with identifying and improving skills and assist in the return to work.

• RELAXATION TECHNIQUES Learning ways to handle stress can help prevent symptoms.

• YOGA Good evidence suggests that yoga , particularly Kundalini meditation  and relaxation can be useful in the management of schizophrenia.

 

• MUSIC THERAPY Music therapy , in addition to other treatments, may help improve the functioning of patients. 

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