World Schizophrenia Day

Schizophrenia is a mental disorder characterized by an inability to differentiate between what is real and what is not. The word, schizophrenia, is derived from a Greek word that can be loosely defined as ‘split mind’.
The father of modern psychiatry, Phillippe Pinel, in his book in 1809 described this abnormal condition of the mind which was later named schizophrenia. The disorder is characterized by a spectrum of conditions that fall under the category of psychotic disorders and therefore varies from one person to another.

Schizophrenia affects about 24 million people worldwide. Although no proven causes are known, some factors may increase a person’s chances of developing the condition: genetic makeup, family history, environment, drug use, etc. It is one of the commonest mental disorders, and World Schizophrenia Day, marked annually on 24th of May, is a day set aside to spread awareness about the condition and advocate for the eradication of the myths and superstitious beliefs about mental ill-health. The commonest of such myths is that people living with schizophrenia have a split personality.

According to the World Health Organization, schizophrenia is characterized by persistent delusion, where a person holds onto a belief that is not true. The condition is also characterized by hallucination — a person may start hearing, seeing, touching or feeling things that are not present. Patients may also present with irrelevant speech. They also experience difficulties in cognitive skills including attention span, memory and problem-solving skills.

According to the American Psychiatry Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder, Fifth Edition, to diagnose schizophrenia in a person, two of the five main symptoms have to be identified. These symptoms include hallucination, incoherent speech, unusual movements, delusions, and negative symptoms. The symptoms must have also lasted for about four to five weeks.

The age of onset varies slightly in males and females, but the condition generally manifests during late adolescence or early adulthood. Schizophrenia in children tends to be more severe. It was also observed by researchers that COVID-19 could have a greater effect on schizophrenia patients in terms of higher risk of being contaminated, mortality, and suffering a psychotic relapse.

There are about seven disorders in the schizophrenia spectrum, and schizophrenia occurs in three stages: prodrome, active and residual stages.
Psychotherapy can help in effectively managing schizophrenia patients, but it is difficult to prevent schizophrenia because there is no exact known cause. Suspected cases should be reported to experts for appropriate diagnosis and treatment.

Patients should see medical experts, avoid self-medication and take medication as appropriate. Alcohol and recreational drugs should also be avoided. Patients should pay attention to symptoms and seek support from loved ones. Although schizophrenia is a chronic condition where some sufferers recover, and others do not, it can be effectively managed. Managing it involves following expert opinions and going for regular treatment. A healthy lifestyle is very crucial as the symptoms may influence physical health. Family and friends can help to provide a support system to aid the patient’s improvement.

Perpetuating factors like toxic environments, peer influence that may encourage unhealthy lifestyles, and so on should be monitored to ensure that the patient does not relapse. Building and maintaining a community where there’s awareness, access to quality health care and necessary resources, empathy, support, and inclusion is essential to ensuring that people with schizophrenia get the help required. This is the duty of every member of society.

Written By Taiwo Fatola, a medical student at Osun State University. He is a box of paradoxes and ironies. He loves sports but doesn’t play any. He loves to write but doesn’t do so often. Sleeping to him is the best compensation for physical stress. He’s a budding journalist who takes accountability very seriously.

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Asido Campus Network

Asido Campus Network

Asido Campus Network is a student led mental health promoting club and the youth arm of the Asido Foundation dedicated in ensuring optimal mental health