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Gaining valuable insight on schizophrenia through a detailed analysis of the disease

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Through research and evaluation of credible sources, this information can be used to help people suffering from abnormal psychological disorders such as schizophrenia. Diagnostic criteria, the history and background, epidemiology, etiology, and forms of treatment for schizophrenia have been discussed in brief detail. Most information has been extracted from sources using statistics and data from the DSM-IV-TR and patient evaluations. The purpose of the information presented could be used for families and friends of schizophrenic patients to gain insight on the debilitating disorder and to find means of coping with it. Highlights include the overall history of and misdiagnosis of schizophrenia, the symptoms associated, the statistics of people affected based on social class, gender, and race, and means of treatment. Take note that this could not be used as a professional analysis or in-depth overview of the disorder, but the article uses key points that specialists most frequently address to patients and their families and friends when diagnosed.

Schizophrenia has been known to be a disorder that causes a perception of an altered reality. According to Ciccarelli and White (2015):

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Once known as dementia praecox, a Latin-based term meaning “out of one’s mind before one’s time,” schizophrenia was named by Eugen Bleuler, a Swiss psychiatrist, to better illustrate the division (schizo) within the brain (phren) among thoughts, feelings, and behavior that seems to take place in people with this disorder (Bleuler, 1911; Möller& Hell, 2002) (pg. 562).

Not to be confused with dissociative identity disorder, the term can be defined as “split mind,” but the symptoms of schizophrenia progress more rapidly and cause severe functioning in normal daily processes (Ciccarelli& White, 2015, 562).

The history of schizophrenia could be dated back to the times of ancient Egypt, where symptoms such as depression, abnormal thought patterns, and dementia had been recorded in detail in the Book of Hearts. These symptoms show in patients suffering from schizophrenia as well. Because Egyptians focused on physiology as well as spirituality, they expressed the symptoms being related to problems with the heart and the uterus, and claimed the disorder originated from blood vessels, purulence, human excrement, poisoning, or demonic possession (“History of Schizophrenia” 1). Back in the middle ages, any form of psychological illness had been misconstrued as witchcraft or demonic possession, and means of treatment usually resulted in confinement and/or death (Ciccarelli& White, 2015, 538). Not many knew how to diagnose schizophrenia and would misdiagnose the disorder as dementia. In the 1970s, specialists started developing psychological programs in an effort to obtain more knowledge on the underlying causes presented (Swingler, 2013, 49).

Concerning epidemiology, morbid risk with families of first-degree relatives had a 5.6% chance of developing schizophrenia in parents of schizophrenics, a 12.8% chance in children with one parent suffering from schizophrenia, and 46.3% in children with two parents diagnosed with schizophrenia (Bromet&Fennig, 1999, 872). Symptoms usually develop during adolescence and early adulthood (Kamir& van Os, 2009, 635). According to Bromet and Fennig of Biological Psychiatry, the overall heritability estimate for the liability to schizophrenia is 60% to 70%” (Bromet&Fennig, 1999, 872). Concerning social class, a study regarding a relationship between social class and schizophrenia showed a ratio from lower to upper class of 3:1 (Swingler, 2013, 153). The ratio of the risk of schizophrenia from male to female is 4:1, where symptoms are present in males before 25 and in females before 35 (Mitchell & Travis, 2012, 49).

Etiology or the causes associated with schizophrenia fall under physiological disturbances. Strong evidence supports that genetics plays a role in passing on schizophrenia (Ciccarelli& White, 2015, 564). As a matter of fact, the stress-vulnerability model suggests that stress-related events in individuals with genetic “markers” for schizophrenia will trigger the development of the disorder at some point in their life, usually during puberty (Ciccarelli& White, 2015, 565). In the early stages of schizophrenia, the immune system releases high levels of inflammation-fighting secretions in the brain. Studies have shown a shortage of the myelin coating on the axons between the frontal lobe to the temporal lobe and the cingulum bundle that links part of the limbic system to be correlated to inefficient sending of neural signals between cells. This has been known to cause problems in decreasing memory and improper decision-making. (Ciccarelli& White, 2015, 565).

Means of treatment consist of long-term usage of first-generation antipsychotic medication and second-generation antipsychotic medication. Antipsychotics such as Risperidone and olanzapine could be recommended for first two years after diagnosis but long-term use is highly encouraged to prevent future episodes. If first-line treatment has been ineffective, a second-generation antipsychotic is paired with a first-generation antipsychotic for a period of 6 months or longer. These medications do not interfere with causes associated with hyperprolactinaemia, extrapyramidal side-effects or tardive dyskinesia (Mitchell & Travis, 2012, 49). Clozapine oral monotherapy at or equal to 900 mg is the third line of treatment if others have been ineffective in alleviating negative symptoms that affect normal daily functioning such as poor attention or lack of emotional expression (Mitchell & Travis, 2012, 49).

Overall, schizophrenia has been determined to be a long-term psychotic illness, but the symptoms can be managed. Normal daily functioning is possible with the proper help and medication to alleviate symptoms. Although times dating back to ancient Egypt suggested a spiritual and physiological cause for the disorder, several factors such as environment, genetics, and drug use influence the triggering of onset schizophrenia. The parts of the brain highly affect mood and dysfunction when their processes and neural signals cannot be transmitted properly.

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