Schizophrenia

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Schizophrenia is a severe mental disorder that affects an individual’s thoughts, feelings and behavior. It is the most chronic and disabling of major mental illnesses and can hamper a patient’s relationship, work and functioning in the society.

While the disorder affects men and women equally, men are more likely to have an earlier onset. An individual with schizophrenia may have difficulty distinguishing between imaginary and real life. He or she may be unresponsive or withdrawn and may have difficulty expressing normal emotions in social situations. Though not as common as other mental disorders, schizophrenia affects about 1 percent of the population. A person with schizophrenia can encounter problems like having delusions and hallucinations, lack of motivation and trouble with thinking and concentration. 

Schizophrenia: Types

The severity of schizophrenia varies from person to person and its symptoms seem to improve or deteriorate in cycles known as remissions and relapses. The disorder can be categorized into various subtypes.

  • Paranoid Subtype: An individual with paranoid schizophrenia may feel persecuted or spied on.
  • Catatonic Subtype: A person with catatonic schizophrenia can be physically immobile or unable to speak.
  • Residual Subtype: In a person with residual schizophrenia, symptoms are no longer present or are noticeably reduced.
  • Disorganized Subtype: An individual with disorganized schizophrenia may appear confused or disjointed.
  • Undifferentiated Subtype: In this category, a schizophrenic shows no symptoms of any of the category. 

What causes schizophrenia?

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), following are the possible causes of schizophrenia:

Genetics: Schizophrenia can sometimes run in families. No single gene can cause the disorder by itself, but many different genes may increase its risk.

Environment: Interaction between genetics and environmental factors can also be a cause for schizophrenia. Environmental factors may include psychological factors, malnutrition before birth, problems during birth and exposure to viruses.

Brain chemistry: Problems with certain brain chemicals may cause schizophrenia. An imbalance in the complex brain chemical involving neurotransmitters called glutamate and dopamine may play a role in the development of schizophrenia.

Substance use: Some studies have suggested that mind-altering drugs taken during teen years and young adulthood can increase the risk for schizophrenia. As per studies, smoking marijuana may lead to an earlier onset of schizophrenia.

What is Addiction?

Addiction is a disease that manipulates a person’s sense of reward, motivation, memory and a number of related neurological functions.

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Signs and symptoms of schizophrenia

As per the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), symptoms of schizophrenia usually begin between ages 16 and 30 and in some rare cases can affect children too. The symptoms can be broadly divided into positive, negative and cognitive symptoms.

Positive symptoms: Positive symptoms may include thought and movement disorders, hallucinations and delusions. These are psychotic behaviors usually not seen in healthy people. During hallucination, a person may hear, see or smell things not perceived by others. Those with delusions often have confused thinking or face problems in concentrating.

Negative symptoms: These symptoms affect normal emotions and behaviors and may cause reduced speaking, reduced feelings of pleasure in everyday life and difficulty beginning and sustaining activities. Negative symptoms are also responsible for diminishing an individual’s abilities.

Cognitive symptoms: Cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia may include trouble focusing, poor executive functions and problems with working memory. Individuals with cognitive symptoms often struggle to remember things, organize thoughts or complete tasks.

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Schizophrenia: Diagnosis

Diagnosing schizophrenia may not be easy because many a times, individuals detected with the problem do not believe that they have the disorder. As per the NAMI, use of drugs like LSD or methamphetamines can cause schizophrenia-like symptoms. Diagnosis of schizophrenia cannot be done by a single physical or lab test. To be diagnosed with schizophrenia, a person must suffer from two or more than two symptoms persistently. Some of the symptoms are:

  • catatonic behavior
  • delusions
  • hallucinations
  • disorganized speech
  • negative symptoms

Early identification of the disease improves an individual’s chance of managing the illness and reducing psychotic episodes. All these can help in faster recovery. A six-month evaluation of a person’s illness helps in the correct diagnosis of the disorder. 

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Treatment with Sovereign Health

Schizophrenia can be treated and managed in several ways. The goal of schizophrenia treatment is to reduce the symptoms and chance of a relapse. Treatment for schizophrenia involves medications, psychotherapy, psychosocial treatments and other therapies.

Medications

During schizophrenia treatment, a health care professional prescribes antipsychotics to manage various symptoms like delusions and hallucinations. Usually taken in pill or liquid form, some antipsychotics are injectables given once or twice a month. 

Psychotherapy

Therapy for schizophrenia may involve cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), cognitive enhancement therapy (CET) and supportive psychotherapy.

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: CBT helps manage affective disorders. By focusing on one’s thoughts, images and beliefs, the therapy helps in identifying and changing the patient’s thought process. For more serious conditions like psychosis, additional cognitive therapy is added to the basic CBT that helps patients develop coping strategies for symptoms not managed by medicines.
  • Cognitive Enhancement Therapy: CET helps in promoting cognitive functioning and confidence in patients. It involves a combination of computer-based training and group sessions. 

Psychosocial treatment

Psychosocial treatments help people compensate for or eliminate barriers caused by schizophrenia. Such treatments can help tackle behavioral, social, psychological and occupational problems associated with the illness, identify early warning signs and develop a plan to avoid a relapse. Psychosocial therapies include individual therapy, family therapy, group therapy, rehabilitation and cognitive remediation. As per the NAMI, some of the more common psychosocial treatments include peer support groups and assertive community treatment (ACT).

Sovereign Health offerings

Treatment programs for schizophrenia focus on soothing the symptoms. Sovereign Health offers a variety of treatment options for mental health disorders. Depending on the level of illness, treatment for schizophrenia involves medication and therapy. In addition to CBT, we provide individual, group and family psychotherapies with experiential therapies like meditation, yoga, art therapy, equine therapy and eTherapy.

Following are the therapies offered at Sovereign Health:

Experiential Therapy: Through activities like role-playing, guided imagery and use of props, experiential therapy seeks to address hidden or subconscious problems. Examples of experiential therapy include equine therapy, recreation therapy, music therapy, art therapy and many others.

  • Equine therapy: This form of therapy involves interaction between patients and horses. It helps in improving self-esteem, interpersonal relationships, communication skills, self-control and concentration among patients.
  • Rock to Recovery: Based on music therapy, Sovereign Health’s rock to recovery program is effective for a mental disorder or an addiction. It allows patients to get in touch with their artistic side and express themselves by singing, playing an instrument or dancing.
  • Expressive arts therapy: The process of making art can help an individual improve his or her emotional and physical well-being. Effective in managing feelings and behaviors, the therapy can help reduce stress and improve self-esteem and awareness. This is a therapeutic approach that combines music, visual arts, drama and writing. By integrating such approaches, an individual gains access to his or her inner resources for healing, creativity and clarity.
  • Meditation and yoga: Therapeutic activities like yoga and meditation aid in stabilizing one’s mood. For those dealing with mental illness or substance use disorders, yoga, meditation, and mindfulness-based stress reduction therapy offer many physical and emotional benefits.

Neurofeedback: Neurofeedback involves retraining the brain to react differently to stimuli brought on by the environment, thereby, teaching it to function more effectively. A type of biofeedback, it uses real-time displays of brain activity to teach self-regulation of brain function.

Cognitive Remediation: The technique helps improve one’s cognitive functions and leads to improved social functioning. It helps improve attention, cognitive flexibility and working memory.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy: It helps people suffering from trauma, anxiety, panic, disturbing memories, PTSD and many other emotional problems. EMDR therapy works by replacing one’s anxiety and fear with positive images, emotions and thoughts.

eTherapy: A telehealth video conferencing service is ideal for patients seeking freedom and flexibility in managed care. Helpful in making continuing care easy, eTherapy helps a patient stay in contact with caregivers. It connects patients with a licensed clinician in a safe and secure environment. 

What our Clients Say!

‘We learned to talk about things in a safe environment & know we won’t be judged because we all have things we have to work towards here.’

Streamlining the process

At Sovereign Health, our trained medical staff and health care professionals provide evidence-based treatment to each patient. We conduct a thorough assessment of our patients’ medical and family history, and a psychiatric evaluation before designing a personalized treatment plan. To eliminate any stress during the admission process, Sovereign Health provides many financial options. We have also streamlined the insurance process and accept most major health insurance plans, including Anthem, BlueCross, BlueShield, Humana, Aetna, Cigna and many more.

To know more about various schizophrenia treatment options offered at Sovereign Health, call us at our 24/7 helpline number 866-698-4295. You can also chat online with our representatives to know about our finest mental health treatment centers near you.