Schizophrenic Disorders

What are schizophrenic disorders?

Schizophrenic disorders involve confusion in the patients’ minds about who they are, what they see or hear around them and this causes severe social problems for them. They include:

What is schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a major psychiatric disorder where the patient experiences a multitude of strange symptoms such as loss of contact with reality, false beliefs, false perceptions of sounds and images, abnormal thinking, reduced motivation and flattened affect. As a result these patients, when untreated live in their own world, find it extremely difficult to communicate and to trust people around them, which makes it awkward for loved ones, friends and strangers to understand them. This leads then to social isolation, work disturbances and often marital conflicts and divorces. Secondary depression often sets in and frequently leads to suicide.

What are the signs and symptoms of schizophrenia?

The patients differ a fair amount and not all of the following symptoms are present in every patient. A patient with persecutory thoughts will interpret all of the actions around him as meaning that something or someone is after the patient. Another patient may hear voices that are not really there. Other symptoms of schizophrenia are disorganized thinking and speech. The person interacting with the patient will notice that the topic is frequently switched, before the thought has been expressed completely. Other symptoms may include:

Affective flattening – The schizophrenic patient finds it difficult to express emotions and this is apparent during a conversation. The face stays unresponsive, does not express emotion, there is poor eye contact and reduced body language.

Alogia – The speech is poor, there are expressive problems with only brief, empty replies. The decreased fluency and productivity of speech seems to reflect the thought inhibition that is going on inside. As normal people can also go through similar phases, this needs to be observed over a period of time and by interviewing relatives and friends that have close contact with the patient.

Avolition – The schizophrenic patient finds it difficult to initiate a project, plan it and see it through to completion. This is a common occurrence in a person’s life. But for the schizophrenic this becomes an insurmountable task.

How is schizophrenia treated?

The treatment of schizophrenia consists of the use of antipsychotic medication. These medications are not without problems. One of the unpleasant side-effects is motor restlessness(akathisia), which often leads to terminating therapy by the patient.

Other side-effects are common such as extrapyramidal side-effects that mimic Parkinson disease. Symptoms can include trembling of the hands, shakiness of the upper extremity muscles as well as muscle rigidity, cogwheel phenomenon when testing muscle mobility and balancing problems. Benztropine (brand name: Cogentin) is helpful in treating this.

Other supportive measures have proven effective in helping patients cope with their disorder.