National Schizophrenia Awareness Day
"Mental illness is not a choice,
but recovery is."
National schizophrenia awareness day is observed on July 25th every year. Schizophrenia is a chronic mental disorder that affects the perception of reality in a person. It is a psychiatric disorder where a person’s way of acting, thinking, expressing emotions, speaking, and behavior gets affected. It might also cause hallucinations and delusions in the patient. Around the world, approximately 24 million people, or about 1 in 300 individuals (0.32%), are impacted by schizophrenia.
Goals Of National Schizophrenia Awareness Day
- National schizophrenia awareness day aims to raise awareness about the challenges faced by people living with schizophrenia.
- The event seeks to highlight and break down the stigma and discrimination surrounding schizophrenia.
- By promoting understanding and empathy, the day strives to improve the lives of those affected by the condition.
- Participating in activities such as retweeting stories, sharing facts on social media, and joining online platforms can support the cause.
Symptoms Of Schizophrenia
There are various schizophrenia symptoms. These symptoms vary depending upon the type and severity of the condition. Like any other illness, the severity, frequency, and duration of symptoms for schizophrenia also differ from one person to another. The symptoms of schizophrenia are
Early symptoms often begin in the teenage years and early 20s. The period of early symptoms is called the prodromal period, and its symptoms are
- Sleep disturbances
- Social disconnection
- Change in focus
- Problem concentrating
- Mood swings
The symptoms of schizophrenia are classified as positive and negative symptoms.
Positive Symptoms Of Schizophrenia
In the case of schizophrenia, positive doesn’t signify good. It means added thoughts or actions in the patient that they show noticeable changes in their behavior with the following symptoms.
- Delusions: These beliefs are false and not based on reality. The patient often refuses to let go of the false beliefs after being presented with facts. For example, a person experiencing delusion with thoughts that they are extraordinary and have special powers or that someone is trying to kill or harm them.
- Hallucinations: These are experiences like hearing or seeing things that are not real. People with schizophrenia often experience hallucinations. Auditory hallucinations (hearing voices) are extremely common symptoms of schizophrenia.
- Disorganized thinking and speech: People with schizophrenia might experience a tough time organizing their thoughts. They might find it difficult to comprehend what’s being told to them, and it might look like they are zoning out or are not focused. Sometimes, when they talk, it would not make sense, or they might use mixed words that might be made up or out of context and make no sense.
- Abnormal or disorganized motor behavior: These movements may vary from childish behavior to unpredictable agitation. The patient with schizophrenia might start moving around too much for no reason or become passive suddenly and stay still for hours (catatonic).
Negative Symptoms Of Schizophrenia
Negative symptoms are the decreased or lack of ability of the patient to function normally, which include
- Limited lack of emotions
- Low energy
- Loss of interest in day-to-day activities
- Social isolation
- Feeling demotivated
- Poor hygiene
- Less talking and reduced interactions with people
- Facing difficulty in coping with scheduled plans and in following daily tasks
Causes Of Schizophrenia
The exact causes of schizophrenia are not known. However, researchers believe that various risk factors are associated with the development of schizophrenia. They are
- Heredity factor: A family history of schizophrenia is a potential risk factor.
- Chemical imbalance in the brain: People with imbalances of certain chemicals called neurotransmitters (dopamine, serotonin) are at risk of developing schizophrenia.
- Environmental factors: Excessive stress, birth complications (malnutrition) or issues during pregnancy, exposure to toxins, exposure to viruses, and autoimmune disorders are some environmental factors that pose a potential risk factor for developing schizophrenia.
- Using certain drugs or medications: Using mind-altering drugs during adolescence and young adulthood can increase the risk of developing schizophrenia.
Treatment Options For Schizophrenia
There is no way to cure schizophrenia. The goal of schizophrenia treatment is to manage the symptoms, reduce their severity, prevent their relapse and avoid hospitalization. Certain potential treatment options include
- Antipsychotic medications: These medications help ease the symptoms of schizophrenia-like delusions, hallucinations, and thinking issues.
- Psychosocial therapy: Apart from medications that relieve the symptoms, psychosocial treatments can help deal with behavioral, social, and psychological issues. Different psychosocial therapies include individual therapy, rehabilitation, family therapy, cognitive therapy and enhancement, and social recovery therapy.
- Hospitalization: In certain instances where the symptoms are too severe, or the patient cannot look after themselves properly, or in case of self-harm, hospitalization is required.
- Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT): This treatment is seldom used. It is used only when medications work no longer or if catatonia or chronic depression poses difficulty in treatment.
Schizophrenia Is Not The End!
People with schizophrenia are often subjected to a lot of discrimination. But it is time to create awareness about this condition and break its stigma. Mental illness is a serious topic and needs to be spoken about more. There are few healthy ways to relieve mental stress. When this condition is left untreated, it can give rise to severe complications. These complications can have a massive impact on the day-to-day life of the person. Certain complications include severe depression and aggressive behavior, which may result in self-harm, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts.
On national schizophrenia awareness day 2023, let us come together to break the stigma surrounding schizophrenia and raise awareness about the challenges faced by individuals living with this condition. By spreading the word on social media, sharing our stories, and engaging in open communication, we can create a more supportive and understanding society. Remember, every little step matters, and together, we can make a significant difference in the lives of those affected by schizophrenia. Let's stand united in advocating for mental health and working towards a world where everyone receives the care, compassion, and respect they deserve.