Affecting easily confused to the under educated. For

Affecting barely 1% of the US population, roughly 3.5 million
adults aged 18 or older, Schizophrenia, or “Schizo” is one of the most
disabling diseases affecting humankind (“How schizophrenia affects the
brain”, 2015).  Schizophrenia is classified as an extreme and chronic
brain disorder that interferes with a person’s ability to think clearly, manage
emotions, make decisions and relate to others. There are numerous other
symptoms and factors that follow “schizo” which are not involved in multiple
personality disorder (dissociative identity disorder), however the two are
easily confused to the under educated. For decades, research on the etiology of
schizophrenia has been dominated by theories associated with genetics and
neurotransmitters. Psychotic disorders as such nearly always emerge in late
adolescence or early adulthood, with onset peaking between the ages of 18 and
25. The reasons for its appearance in this age range have not been identified
(“Schizophrenia – Fact Sheet”).

Contradicting many minds of public perception, “Schizo” is not
brought on by childhood events, lack of willpower, or poor parenting, however,
the symptoms are not synonymous for each person (“Schizophrenia”,
2017). Although it’s not recognized what just quite is the source of
schizophrenia, to a majority of researchers it is believed that a certain union
of genetics, environment and brain chemistry play a part in the development of
the disorder.  Scientists recognize that the disorder is observed to be
genetic and that a person inherits a tendency to develop the disease over time.
If a parent, brother, or sister is affected, the chances go up by 10% and if
both parents are affected, this chance increases to 40%. Indistinguishable to
some other genetically-related illnesses, schizophrenia has a possibility to
materialize when the body undergoes hormonal and physical changes like those that
occur during puberty or vastly stressful situations (“Schizophrenia”,
2017). But some of those affected with schizophrenia have no history of it in
their family. Scientists think that in these cases, a gene may have changed and
made the condition more probable. Differences in genetic code can sometimes
increase one’s odds for developing diseases like schizophrenia as well and
doctors believe there is more than one gene that can be a potential cause of
schizophrenia. Environment is also a potential factor to schizophrenia
development. If a patient were to be exposed to certain viral infections before
they were born, chances of getting schizophrenia are instantly increased. This
may also be true if someone didn’t get proper nutrition from their mother while
she was pregnant, especially during her first six months of pregnancy.

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            Schizophrenia involves a wide array of problems with both
cognitive behavior and emotions. Signs and symptoms may vary, and also have the
possibility to come and go, all depending on the person.
(“Schizophrenia”, 2016) While signs begin occurring sooner in men
than women, signs have a tendency to appear between the ages of 16 and 30.
Often times, sufferers have close to no clue at all that they are
psychologically ill until informed formally by a medical professional. Signs
and symptoms viewed as “positive” are simply actions not commonly witnessed by
“healthy people”. These signs and symptoms involve one being convinced of false
beliefs that do not exist in reality, seeing and hearing things that don’t
exist, disorganized thinking and speech, and abnormal motor behavior. The
“negative” symptoms are correlated with disruptions to “normal” emotions and
behaviors, including decreased expression of emotions in facial expressions
and/or tone of voice. Symptoms in teenagers however, may be harder to recognize
because of natural personality and hormonal changes which would emit the same
symptoms. These symptoms may include reduced motivation, depressed or irritable
mood, insomnia, poor performance in school and isolation from friends and
family. Also, compared to symptoms in adults, teenagers hold a higher chance to
have visual hallucinations, yet are less prone to delusions of reality.

            According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI),
diagnosing schizophrenia is not easy. Some complications stem from the tendency
of the patient not being aware that they are a sufferer, which adds complexity
to any diagnosis. In order to be clinically diagnosed with schizo, one must
exhibit two or more of the above stated symptoms, occurring for a significant
period of time during a 1-month period. (“NAMI”). However an
exception stands when “severe” delusions or hallucinations consisting of one or
more disembodied voices maintaining an ongoing commentary of the patients
thoughts and actions, will pose as enough physical evidence for a diagnosis
alone. Though there are no specific physical, psychological or lab tests that
can singlehandedly diagnose the disorder, an MRI or a CT scan may be used in
order to rule out other disorders or illnesses such as: brain tumors and
bipolar disorder. Therefore, medical professionals can assess the symptoms
through a series of prolonged observations through the a set period of said
person’s illness, or a psychiatric evaluation using the criteria of DSM-5, in
order to gain a full understanding of the disorder.

            Treatment of schizophrenia remains about as chronic as
the disorder does, even when symptoms may appear to have subsided. In some
cases, hospitalizing the patient may be necessary, but typically medications
and therapy will be the most common forms of treating this disorder. The most
recurrent prescribed medication to these patients are antipsychotics (Fluphenazine
(Proxlixin), Aripiprazole (Abilify), etc)
which affect the neurotransmitters in the brain therefore controlling the
symptoms (“Schizophrenia”, 2016). but other medications such as
antidepressants or anti-anxiety drugs may be used as well to achieve different
effects, since these are two side effects of schizophrenia. Psychotherapy is a
form of treatment in which is used when patients are unresponsive to medications,
or are in need of additional treatment. Some of these therapy techniques are
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Cognitive Enhancement Therapy and Supportive
psychotherapy, which all can be classified as cognitive rehabilitation for the
patient.

            As most factors do in this disorder, the prognosis of a
“schizo” patient depends on the individual’s level of diagnosis. Schizophrenia
results in a higher mortality rate than those of the unaffected, leaving men at
a 5.1% and women at a 5.6% increased chance of early death (“Schizophrenia,
2016) due to its correlation with obesity, lack of exercise, smoking and chance
of suicide. This disorder also makes the patient more prone to physical health
risks like diabetes, heart problems and even lung cancer. As much as 25% of
patients are also guilty  of repetitive and severe substance abuse, which
itself can make treatments less effective for the patient, or even worsen
symptoms. Disorders like OCD and anxiety are also noticeably a common
development in schizo patients. Overall, there is no prevention for
schizophrenia, although consistency through early treatment is the best way
improve the long-term outlook, reducing relapses and to keep symptoms under
control before severe complications are able to manifest.