Those suffering from schizophrenia find it difficult to distinguish between what is real and unreal, think clearly, manage emotions, relate to others, or function normally.
The term "schizophrenia" is an inadequate and misleading diagnosis. "Disperceptions of unknown cause" is a better term. If one includes fevers, environmental aggravations and drug reactions, there are innumerable ways to "go crazy" and be diagnosed as "schizophrenic".
It is not true that schizophrenia refers to a "split personality" or multiple personalities. Multiple Personality Disorder is a different and much rarer condition. Schizophrenics are simply "split off" from reality.
Most cases of schizophrenia first appear in the late teens or early adulthood, but it can develop at any age. Schizophrenia tends to be more severe in men than in women.
The lifetime risk of developing schizophrenia is widely accepted to be around 1 in 100, so it is not a rare condition. Genetics play a strong role; schizophrenia occurs in 10% of people who have a first degree relative (parent or sibling) with the disorder. Rates are also higher for those with second-degree relatives (aunts, uncles, grandparents, or cousins) with the disease. Someone with an identical twin with the disorder stands a 45-60% chance of developing it.
While schizophrenia runs in families, about 60% of schizophrenics have no family members with the disorder.
A comprehensive list of possible causes for disperceptions that cause schizophrenia is shown below.
Less Well-known causes
Almost Unknown causes
Prostaglandins ("prosta": standing before; "glandin": gland) are substances that act like hormones in the body. They effect blood pressure, metabolism, body temperature, and other important functions. Prostaglandin levels that are too high or too low can create symptoms. There are different kinds of prostaglandins with specific functions, thus different physical and mental reactions occur with imbalances in each one. Elevated prostaglandin levels have been observed in, for example, pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS). Research has shown that high levels of a prostaglandin called E2 coupled with low levels of one called E1 have been seen as a major cause of certain forms of depression. E2 is a central nervous system depressant.
It's been observed that geographical regions with low selenium levels in the soil and less sunshine have higher rates of "schizophrenia." Since some prostaglandins require selenium for their synthesis, it's believed prostaglandin deficiency may be a source of "schizophrenia."
Endorphins, discovered in 1975, are substances secreted in the brain. They have a pain-relieving and stress-relieving effect similar to morphine. Endorphin molecules lock onto receptors in the brain to remove the perception of pain.
It has been shown that drugs which artificially stimulate and suppress the endorphin receptors can produce symptoms bordering on psychosis. Gluten molecules (see "Wheat-gluten Sensitivity" above) are molecularly similar in shape to endorphins and thus can create the same stimulatory/suppression activity. Certain dairy proteins have been shown to have similar qualities.
Serine is an amino acid that is part of many proteins. It plays a critical role in maintaining blood sugar levels. It has a vital part in the production of the myelin sheath – the coating that protects certain nerve fibers.
In numerous studies the plasma levels of serine have been found to be significantly higher in "schizophrenics" than in control groups. There is also evidence that serine metabolism is abnormal in psychotics. In one study a limited sector of psychiatric patients who responded to a carbohydrate-rich, low-protein diet became psychotic again after oral intake of serine.
Schizophrenia can appear suddenly and without warning. But usually it develops slowly, with subtle warning signs and a gradual decline in functioning long before the first severe episode. In this early stage, schizophrenics can appear eccentric, unmotivated, emotionless, indifferent, and reclusive. They may withdraw from society and isolate themselves, appear hostile and suspicious, start neglecting their health, personal hygiene and appearance, and say peculiar things or speak in strange ways. They may abandon hobbies and other activities, and their performance at work or school often deteriorates. They may 'stare blankly', lack the ability to cry or be happy, or laugh or cry without reason. Depression, insomnia, oversleeping, forgetfulness, inability to concentrate, and extreme reaction to criticism are also common first signs.
People with schizophrenia have an altered perception of — and often lose contact with — reality. They may see or hear things that don't really exist, speak in strange or confusing ways, believe that others are trying to harm them, or feel like they're being constantly watched. Instead of dealing with everyday life, which is hard and often frightening for schizophrenics, they often withdraw from the outside world or are driven by confusion and fear.
With support, medication, and therapy, many with schizophrenia are able to function independently and live satisfying lives.
In general, the earlier schizophrenia develops, the more severe it is. The outlook is best when schizophrenia is diagnosed and treated right away.
While long-term treatment may be required, the outlook for schizophrenia is not hopeless. Those receiving proper treatment can often enjoy life and function well with others.
Some of the possible consequences of schizophrenia are:
[Rupp, Claudia I.; Fleischhacker, W. Wolfgang; Kemmler, Georg; Kremser, Christian; Bilder, Robert M.; Mechtcheriakov, Sergei; Szeszko, Philip R.; Walch, Thomas et al (2005). "Olfactory functions and volumetric measures of orbitofrontal and limbic regions in schizophrenia". Schizophrenia Research 74 (2-3): pp149-61]
According to some, no caffeinated beverages – or even decaffeinated ones – should ever be taken, as these deteriorate into homogentisic acid which is known to be excreted in larger quantities in schizophrenics than in others. Some include colas, tea, coffee, chocolate, and caffeine-containing medications in the list of things to avoid.
GHB has been reported to reduce schizophrenia symptoms, but must not be used with some psychotropic drugs, such as Valium, Thorazine, Dilantin or Phenobarbital.
Since pellagra can mimic the symptoms of schizophrenia, the use of niacin to treat schizophrenia and depression is controversial. Some report improvements using mega vitamin therapy, while others obtain little or no results. The American Psychological Association disapproved the use of niacin to treat mental disorders in 1979, and has not changed its mind since.
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