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Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia

 

Schizophrenia is a chronic psychotic disorder highlighted by marked distortion of subjective reality. These distortions more commonly manifest as delusions or hallucinations, but Schizophrenia also can exhibit disorganized thinking and grossly disorganized/ abnormal motor behavior, including catatonic symptoms (DSM 5th ed pp 87-88 American Psychiatric Publishing, Arlington, VA 2013).

In the United States lifetime prevalence of Schizophrenia is roughly 1% (NIMH.NIH.GOV). However, there is a strong genetic factor evidenced by a 10% occurrence when a first degree relative has the disorder, and twin studies indicate a 40-65% occurrence. (ibid) Brain chemistry and structure of people diagnosed as schizophrenic differ significantly from the general population. Men and women are affected equally, and typical onset of Schizophrenia is between the ages of 18 and 30, with boys often being diagnosed a bit earlier (age 16) and girls later (age 25). (CDC.gov)

The magnitude of Schizophrenia varies from person to person and type to type. Lower functioning schizophrenic patients may be permanently disabled, and in extreme cases unable to function in society.  However, higher functioning patients can lead rich, productive lives as evidenced by the late Nobel Prize winning mathematician John Nash.

The primary treatment for Schizophrenia is anti-psychotic medication(NIMH.NIH.GOV).  However, medication alone is not typically sufficient to stabilize patients. Many schizophrenic patients have been shown to benefit from various interpersonal therapies such as Cognitive behavioral therapy, behavioral modification, group therapy and family education. Schizophrenics with strong family support and communication tend to have better prognoses, and demonstrate reduced incidence of relapse.

(Family Interventions for Schizophrenia Dixon & Lehman Schizophrenia Bulletin (1995) 21 (4): 631-643 doi: 10.1093/schbul/21.4.6311)(Citation according to APA style)

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