What is schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia is a type of mental illness in which the affected person cannot distinguish between real and imaginary things or situations. There are times when people can completely lose touch with reality.
Most people with schizophrenia recover well, whereas some experience relapse or worsening of the condition. If you have been diagnosed with schizophrenia, you can cope with its symptoms by combination therapy of medications, psychotherapy, self-care, and a good support system.
What are the symptoms of schizophrenia?
Some of the characteristic signs and symptoms of schizophrenia include:
- Hallucinations: You start seeing, hearing, feeling, or smelling things that don’t exist.
- Delusions (false beliefs): You may not believe things based on facts but instead form your own false or irrational belief.
- Confused thinking: You are unable to focus on a single thought—there is a rapid shift in thoughts that leads to confusion in the thinking process.
- Disordered thinking: Disordered thinking manifests in the form of randomly spoken words and complete incoherence (nonsense sentences) in speaking or writing.
- Inappropriate emotional response: You are not able to understand the difference between serious and light moments. As a result, you display opposite emotions in events where you are expected to react normally as a healthy person (without schizophrenia) would react.
Other signs and symptoms of schizophrenia include:
- You suddenly become overly active.
- There is a sudden appearance of a state (catatonia) in which your body becomes rigid and cannot be moved.
- You take a bath very fewer times in a week and stop grooming (you may look untidy and shabby).
- You start withdrawing from meeting family and friends.
- You are unable to carry out your routine activities at school, work, or home.
- You lose interest even in things that were enjoyable earlier.
What is the medical treatment of schizophrenia?
The medical treatment for schizophrenia works by reducing psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions, paranoia, and disordered thinking. Finding the right drug and dosage takes time, and hence, treatment is a long-term process.
Second-generation antipsychotic drugs seem to work with fewer side effects than first-generation antipsychotics. Some of these include:
- Abilify (Aripiprazole)
- Saphris (Asenapine)
- Rexulti (Brexpiprazole)
- Vraylar (Cariprazine)
- Clozaril (Clozapine)
- Fanapt (Iloperidone)
- Caplyta (Lumateperone tosylate)
First-generation antipsychotics are also known as typical or conventional. Some of these are as follows:
A therapeutic shock treatment known as electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is sometimes used as an adjunct to antipsychotic medications. This therapy is usually used when medications to treat schizophrenia fail to improve the symptoms.
What are the self-care strategies for schizophrenia?
Taking care of yourself plays a vital role in substantiating the benefits of treatments for schizophrenia. Here are some self-care strategies:
- Maintain good physical and mental health by having regular, well-balanced meals and being physically active.
- Learn to deal effectively with minor ailments and long-term conditions.
- Learn to recognize the signs if you become sick or the symptoms increase.
- Be in regular touch with your healthcare team.
- Take your medicine as prescribed and do not stop them without consulting your doctor.
- If you have any doubts regarding the medicines you are taking, talk to your doctor.
- Try reading the information leaflet that comes with the medicine about possible interactions with other drugs or supplements.
- Manage your stress by doing regular activities that relax you (this can be yoga, deep breathing, or even as simple as taking a stroll in the lap of nature). Additionally, you can learn ways to deal with stress through psychotherapy from a mental health therapist.
- Try quitting alcohol, smoking, and drugs because these can interfere with your treatment.
- Spend time with your family and friends and ask for suggestions for your condition. Alternatively, you can join a schizophrenia support group to know about how others affected with schizophrenia deal with their problems.
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