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What is Schizophrenia

  • Geetha Subramaniam

Peter Green is a British rock guitarist and the founder of the American band Fleetwood Mac. Green played lead in Peter Barden’s band, Peter B’s Looners in 1966. He was ranked 38th in Rolling Stone’s list of the “100 Greatest Guitarist of All Time”. Along with a lifetime of success has come a lifetime of struggling with mental illness.Peter Green has discussed his experiences with schizophrenia publicly while he was seemingly on top of the world with his band,Green’s personal life started to spiral out of control in the early 1970s.

Green was eventually diagnosed with schizophrenia and spent time in psychiatric hospitals undergoing electroconvulsive therapy during the mid-1970s. He told Los Angeles Times about when he was admitted to a hospital. “He was throwing things around and smashing things up. He smashed the car wind screen. The police took him to the police station and asked him if he wanted to go to the hospital. He said yes because he didn’t feel safe going anywhere else. Green went through aggressive treatments that included multiple medications. He eventually left the hospital and started playing guitar again. He has said, “It hurt my fingers at first and I am still relearning. He began a slow recovery. Green now focuses on the basics in life. He used to worry and make things very complicated. Now he keeps it simple. Due to the complexities surrounding schizophrenia, celebrities with the condition have come out to talk about their own experiences. Their stories serve as inspiration and their actions help to fight stigma about the disorder.

Schizophrenia is a chronic psychiatric disorder that can affect nearly every aspect of life. People with this disorder experience distortions of reality often experiencing delusions, visual or auditory hallucinations and lack of emotional intelligence. It can affect how a person thinks and may also disrupt behaviour, relationships and feelings. Genetics, biological and environmental factors can be causes of schizophrenia. Schizophrenia can occur in men and women of all ages. Men often develop symptoms in their late teens or early 20s. Women tend to show signs in their late 20s and early 30s. Many people with schizophrenia find it difficult at times to tell the difference between real and imagined experiences to think logically, to express feelings or to behave appropriately.

People with schizophrenia often go on to suffer terrifying symptoms such as hearing voices not heard by others or believing that other people are reading their minds, controlling their thoughts or trying to harm them. Their speech and behaviour can be disorganised that they may be incomprehensible or frightening to others. “Psychosis” a common condition in schizophrenia is a state of mental impairment marked by hallucinations which are disturbance of sensory perception such as hearing voices and seeing things that others can’t and delusions which are strongly held personal beliefs that result from an inability to separate real from unreal experiences.

The early signs of schizophrenia include sleep disturbance, marked unusual behaviours, feelings that are blunted (flat) or seem inconsistent to others, a change in focus and concentration, speech that is difficult to follow, persistent feelings of unreality, changes in the way things appear, sound or smell and appetite disturbance. People who suffer from schizophrenia may have very broad range of symptoms which can cause great distress to themselves and their families. These symptoms can take many forms including positive symptoms, negative symptoms and cognitive dysfunction.

Positive symptoms (abnormal experiences) of schizophrenia such as hallucinations (seeing, hearing, feeling something that isn’t actually there) delusions (false and usually strange beliefs) and paranoia (unrealistic fear). The negative symptoms of schizophrenia interrupt a person’s typical emotions, behaviours and abilities. These symptoms include disorganized thinking or speech where the person changes topics rapidly when speaking or uses made-up words or phrases. On top of that, loss of interest or excitement for life, trouble experiencing pleasure, a lack of emotions or expressions, added emotional responses to situations, social isolation and also having difficulty completing normal everyday activities. Lastly, the third symptom is cognitive dysfunction (problems with concentration, learning abilities and memory).

Living in a world distorted by hallucinations and delusions individuals with schizophrenia may feel frightened, anxious and confused. Schizophrenia often affects a person’s ability to think straight. Thoughts may come go rapidly. Not only the person may not be able to concentrate on one thought for very long and may be easily distracted, unable to focus attention but also unable to connect thoughts into logical sequences with thoughts becoming disorganised and fragmented.

There is no cure for schizophrenia. if you are diagnosed with this disorder, you will need lifelong treatment. Treatment with medication and psychosocial therapy can control or reduce the severity of symptoms. It’s important to get treatment from a psychiatrist or mental health professional who has experience treating people with this disorder. Therefore, possible treatment includes the following medications. First is antipsychotic medications, the most common treatment for schizophrenia. These medications can help stop hallucinations, delusions,symptoms of psychosis. If psychosis occurs, the individual can be hospitalized and receive treatment under close medical supervision.

Another treatment option for schizophrenia is psychosocial intervention. This includes individual therapy to help the person cope with stress and identify early signs of relapse can help people with schizophrenia manage their illness. On the other hand, social training can improve social and communication skills. Obviously, vocational rehabilitation can provide you with the skills you need to return to work. It can maintain a regular job easier. One of the common psychological treatments include cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). This therapy aims to help you identify the thinking patterns that are causing to have unwanted feelings and behaviour, and learn to replace this thinking with more realistic and useful thoughts. The professionals teach patients to recognise examples of delusional thinking so that they may receive adequate help and advice about how to avoid acting on these thoughts irrationally. Although the symptoms and treatments may feel severe, there is a way to manage these and live a fulfilled life with schizophrenia by accessing the right help sooner.


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