This is a MRI of a brain without schizophrenia. The space in the middle of the brain is very small.
This is a MRI of a brain with schizophrenia. It is easy to see that it looks much different from that of a normal brain. This is due to the increased number of neurotransmitters released between neurons.
Billy was the best kid on his block. He participated in all of the sports and was the smartest in his class. He was well-dressed, clean, and outgoing. Everyone seemed to love him. One day everything started to change for Billy, though. His appearance no longer mattered, he was not motivated to participate in any social activities, and did the bare minimum to get by. He told his parents he suspected that they were evil people and began to hear his mother's voice in his head. After enough change, Billy's parents had him see a doctor. He was diagnosed with schizophrenia.
Billy is not that odd. The disease he suffered from is found in about 1% of the world's population (1 out of every 100 people). Schizophrenia is a very serious disease of the brain. It is one of the most disabling and emotionally devastating illnesses known to man. Unfortunately, because it is such a misunderstood disease, it has received relatively little attention and its victims have been undeservingly defamed and denounced. The people have been looked at as non-human.
Before getting any deeper knowledge of the disease, one should know ways in which to distinguish someone with the disease. Schizophrenia can be detected by a constellation of distinct symptoms. The most common symptoms are called "positive symptoms." They cause very abnormal behavior. Examples of this behavior include a disorder in thought, hallucinations, and delusions. Thought disorder is the inability to think clearly and logically. This makes it impossible for person to communicate proper and causes them to become unaware or their surrounding life and society. Hallucinations are more obvious. This is when a person is hearing, seeing, or feelings things that are not really occurring. A common type of delusion for one with schizophrenia would be paranoia. The person suffering has tendency to believe that he or she is being conspired against. "Negative symptoms" are less obvious, but still of equal seriousness. These symptoms give a very dull and flat personality. They cause social withdrawal or lack of emotional expression. It is easy to see that with the symptoms of this disease, it is not a mystery when someone has it.
Like all diseases, there is a science behind all of the symptoms of a patient diagnosed with schizophrenia. The brain is made up of nerve cells and chemicals. The nerve cells are called neurons and the chemicals are referred to as neurotransmitters. An imbalance of one neurotransmitter, dopamine, is thought to cause the symptoms of schizophrenia. Recent studies suggest that serotonin, another neurotransmitter, may also play a significant role in causing the symptoms of schizophrenia. Brain activity in a brain with schizophrenia obviously differs from a brain without schizophrenia. In the brain with schizophrenia, far more neurotransmitters are released between neurons. Therefore, the symptoms of schizophrenia become present.
The next matter one needs to ponder is who exactly can attract this disease. Believe or not, a disease extreme as this is not all that rare. An estimated one percent to one and a half percent of the United States' population is diagnosed with it over the course of their lives. The disorder can affect anyone at any point in life. However, it is somewhat more common in those who are generically predisposed to the disease. Statistically, the probability of developing schizophrenia as the offspring of two healthy parents without the disease is 1 percent. The likelihood of one developing the disease with one parents whom carries the disease is 13 percent. The probability of developing schizophrenia as the offspring of two parents, both whom have schizophrenia, is 35 percent. Most cases of schizophrenia occur between the ages of 16 and 25. At this age, the larger majority of patience are male. After 25 years of age the disease becomes less common. The larger majority of patients after this age are female. It is important to understand that statistics do not always follow all of the cases. As stated previously, schizophrenia can affect any one and any time in his or her life.
The final and one of the most important topics to address is how the disease is treated. Hospitalization is often required in cases of schizophrenia. This keeps the affected person safe and allows observations by trained mental health professionals to determine whether schizophrenia is the correct diagnosis. Once the diagnosis is made, patience suffering from this illness are put onto antipsychotic drugs. These drugs can dramatically improve the functioning of people with schizophrenia. After the worst of symptoms are overcome by the medication, hospitalization is usually no long needed. Depending on the seriousness of the disease, the patient may utilize day programs, rehabilitation facilities, and be treated in an outpatient setting. This allows the psychiatrist to further analyze the patient and adjust medication dosages accordingly. Aside from the medication needed, the patient will most likely need some sort of counseling. This will help them readjust to society once their symptoms have been controlled.
Schizophrenia is a serious disease that many people turn their back on. Just because a patient is diagnosed with this disorder, it does not make them hopeless. Medication and counseling can help these people make a huge comeback. These patients are just as human as anyone else- it is up to society to see this.