Schizophrenia – A New Mental Illness?

Schizophrenia is a chronic and severe mental disorder where a person suffering this cannot differentiate between what is real and what is not; often called as “psychosis” or “psychotic episode”. It is stated as chronic because this may last up to many years or even life long. The effects can be seen on how a person behaves, thinks and feels. He or she may feel as though someone has touched them, but in reality it will not be the case. The may see things, which cannot be seen by other people.It is one of the most common mental illness. Every 1 out 100 people (1% of population ) suffer from schizophrenia. This mental disorder is present across all the countries, in all races and cultures.

It is a brain disorder that creates hallucinations, delusions, thought disorder, movement disorder and reduced speaking. A person with schizophrenia loses the touch of pleasurable life and has trouble focusing or paying attention. It usually strikes one during their adolescence and youth ( from the age of 16 to 30 years). It affects both men and women equally. But on an average, men are likely to develop schizophrenia earlier than women.

Before patients actually experience psychosis they can experience mild symptoms like disordered thinking i.e. jumping from one topic to another or giving unrelated answers to the question. The patients thought process or their thinking capacity starts deteriorating. Often, schizophrenia is associated with supernatural beliefs because of the symptoms that manifest. They often get unreal fear or suspicion that someone is trying to get them or that some alien or unidentified power is trying to control and command them.

Persons with schizophrenia are found to have larger normal ventricles in their brain. Superior temporal gyrus is a part of the brain which is involved in auditory processing. Usually, in most people this portion is highly connected to the regions of the brain involved in sensory perception and motor control. But, the superior temporal gyrus is more connected to limbic regions of the brain, which are involved in processing emotions in patients affected with schizophrenia. This could be one of the reasons why patients with schizophrenia usually experience auditory hallucinations.

There are several factors that can develop schizophrenia in a person. Studies show that schizophrenia could be genetic. Another evidence can be from “twin theory”. Identical twins who share exactly same genetic makeup are usually prone to developing such disorder. It may range between 30% to 50% , but it is not the sole factor for the occurrence of this illness. Second reason could be various environmental factors like exposure to viruses, malnutrition before birth and problems during birth. Third reason could be psychological factors such poor social interactions, family stress, infections and trauma at an early age.

Australian scientists have made a remarkable discovery that schizophrenia could be a possible outcome of increase in the number of immune of cells, which are a type of white cells. Many treatments are undertaken, including the consumption or injection of psychotic pills which reduces the effects over time or could also include psycho-social treatment. The possible effects of such pills are restlessness, contraction of muscles, weight gain and skin problems.Mental health advocates are lobbying to get schizophrenia classified as a brain disease like Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s, instead of as a mental illness; a move that could reduce stigma and lead to more dollars for a cure.

In India, with a population of nearly 1.1 billion, there are approximately 1 million schizophrenia cases  reported every year. The reasons being crisp and clear – unhealthy working conditions, extreme financial pressure, increasing pollutants in air, the widening of gap between the poor and rich, indefinite discrimination based on caste, religion , gender, race and so on. All such factors are giving way to different mental illness, one of them being schizophrenia.

It becomes important for the government to take such matter into consideration because the major asset of any country lies in the healthy well-being of its population. Affected population proves to be a liability as their creativity decreases, are unable to think out of the box, always dissatisfied, leading to reduce in their productivity skills; all these factors not only affect the economy or well-being of a country, but also affect an individual to an extent that they lose the meaning or purpose of life.

Picture Credits : rebelcircus

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