General Practice 2022

Schizophrenia: what é, types, symptoms and treatment

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Schizophrenia: what é, types, symptoms and treatment
Schizophrenia: what é, types, symptoms and treatment

Schizophrenia is a set of severe and disabling psychiatric disorders characterized by changes in thinking, emotions and behavior, which can be caused by genetic, environmental factors and changes in neurotransmitters. Schizophrenia usually manifests between late adolescence and early adulthood in both men and women.

Symptoms of schizophrenia can vary from person to person, there is no specific symptom of this disorder, however it is possible that there are hallucinations, delusions, disordered speech and changes in behavior. Therefore, it is recommended that the psychiatrist be consulted as soon as symptoms are noticed.

Treatment of this disorder is focused on combating the symptoms and improving the person's quality of life and, for this, the psychiatrist may recommend antipsychotic drugs, such as Risperidone, Quetiapine or Clozapine, for example, in addition to psychotherapy and techniques behavioral as a way to help rehabilitate people and promote their integration into society.

Symptoms of schizophrenia

Symptoms of schizophrenia vary according to the type of schizophrenia and from person to person, and there is no specific symptom for this disorder. The main symptoms are:

  • Delusions, which arise when a person strongly believes in something that is not real, such as being persecuted, betrayed or having superpowers, for example. Understand better what delirium is, the types and what the causes are;
  • Hallucinations, are vivid and clear perceptions of things that do not exist, such as hearing voices or seeing visions;
  • Disorganized thinking, in which the person says disjointed and nonsensical things;
  • Abnormalities in the way of moving, with uncoordinated and involuntary movements, in addition to catatonism, characterized by lack of movement, presence of repeated movements, fixed gaze, grimaces, echo of the speak or be silent, for example;
  • Changes in behavior, there may be psychotic breaks, aggression, agitation and risk of suicide;
  • Negative symptoms, such as loss of will or initiative, lack of emotional expression, social isolation, lack of self-care;
  • Lack of attention and concentration;
  • Memory changes and learning difficulties.

Schizophrenia can appear suddenly, in days, or gradually, with changes that appear gradually over months to years. Usually, the initial symptoms are noticed by family members or close friends, who notice that the person is more suspicious, confused, disorganized or withdrawn.

Possible causes

The exact cause of what causes schizophrenia is still unknown, however, it is known that genetic and environmental factors can lead to the development of symptoms.A person with a family member diagnosed with schizophrenia has a 10 times greater risk of developing the disease as well.

Some factors that may be involved in the development of the disease are older age of the parents, episodes of seizures in childhood, strong blows to the head, infections during pregnancy, complications during childbirth and use of substances such as cannabis for example. Furthermore, the theory of alterations in the functioning of neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and serotonin, is proposed to explain the development of this psychiatric disorder.

Types of schizophrenia

Classically, schizophrenia can be classified into different types, according to the main symptoms that the person presents. However, according to the DSM V, which classifies several mental disorders, the existence of several subtypes is no longer considered, since according to several studies, no differences are observed in the evolution and treatment of each subtype.

Thus, the main types of schizophrenia are:

1. Paranoid schizophrenia

It is the most common type, in which delusions and hallucinations predominate, especially hearing voices, and behavioral changes such as agitation and restlessness are also common. Learn more about paranoid schizophrenia.

2. Catatonic schizophrenia

It is characterized by the presence of catatonism, in which the person does not react correctly to the environment, with slow movements or paralysis of the body, in which one can remain in the same position for hours to days, speech slurred or not speaking, repeating words or phrases that someone has just said, as well as repeating bizarre movements, grimacing, or staring.

It is a less common type of schizophrenia, and more difficult to treat, with a risk of complications such as malnutrition or self-harm, for example.

3. Hebephrenic or disorganized schizophrenia

Disorganized thinking predominates, with nonsense and out of context speech, in addition to the common presence of negative symptoms, such as disinterest, social isolation and loss of ability to perform day-to-day activities.

4. Undifferentiated schizophrenia

It appears when there are symptoms of schizophrenia, however they do not fit into the other types and, therefore, the person does not fit into the aforementioned types of schizophrenia.

5. Residual schizophrenia

It is a chronic form of the disease. It happens when the criteria for schizophrenia occurred in the past, but are not currently active, however, negative symptoms such as sluggishness, social isolation, lack of initiative or affection, decreased facial expression or lack of self-care, for example, still persist.

Diagnosis of schizophrenia

There is no laboratory or imaging test capable of diagnosing schizophrenia.Therefore, to confirm schizophrenia, the psychiatrist will evaluate the set of signs and symptoms presented by the person and, if necessary, request tests such as computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging of the skull to rule out other diseases that can cause psychiatric symptoms, such as a brain tumor or dementia, for example.

How the treatment is done

Schizophrenia treatment is guided by the psychiatrist, with antipsychotic drugs, such as Risperidone, Quetiapine, Olanzapine or Clozapine, for example, which help to control mainly positive symptoms, such as hallucinations, delusions or changes in behavior.

Other anxiolytic-type drugs, such as Diazepam, or mood stabilizers, such as Carbamazepine, can be used to relieve symptoms in case of agitation or anxiety, in addition to antidepressants, such as Sertraline, may be indicated in case of depression.

In addition, psychotherapy and occupational therapy are necessary as a way of contributing to a better rehabilitation and reintegration of the patient into social life.Family counseling and follow-up by social and community support teams are also important measures to improve treatment effectiveness.

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