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What is schizophrenia and can it be cured – about complex mental health disorders health news


Marked by significant impairment in cognition and behavioral changes, schizophrenia affects an estimated 24 million people worldwide, or 1 in 300, according to a June 2022 World Health Organization report. Schizophrenia is a complex and often misunderstood mental health disorder, shares Dr Himanshu Champaneri, Senior Consultant – Neurosurgery, Marengo Asia Hospital, Gurugram. The doctor goes on to explain the disorder, symptoms, red flags to look for and dos and don’ts.

What is schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a long-term brain disorder characterized by abnormalities in thinking, feeling, seeing and behaving, says Dr Himanshu Champaneri. “Patients with schizophrenia may exhibit hallucinations, delusions, distorted thought patterns, compromised cognitive functioning and social isolation. It usually manifests in adolescence or early adulthood and can significantly affect a person’s ability to go about their daily lives,” said Dr. Champaneri.

What causes schizophrenia?

Dr. Champaneri explains that although a person may be genetically predisposed to schizophrenia, the condition is not usually present at birth. Rather, it typically appears in adolescence or early adulthood, often brought on by a combination of neurological, environmental and genetic variability, he adds. The development of schizophrenia later in life can occur in a variety of situations, such as:

Genetic predisposition: A family history of schizophrenia or other psychiatric disorders increases the risk.

Environmental Factors: Toxin exposure, substance abuse, stressful life events and trauma can all contribute to the onset of schizophrenia.

Neurobiological factors: Disturbances in brain development, imbalances in neurotransmitters, and structural defects in the brain may be involved.

Dealing with People With Schizophrenia: Tips for Family and Friends

Early diagnosis of schizophrenia is essential for timely intervention and care, says Dr. Champaneri. He lists the following advice for friends and family of a schizophrenic person:

– Be alert for changes in mood, thought processes or behaviour, such as slurred speech, social withdrawal, paranoia or strange beliefs.
– Promote open discussion and show care without judgment.
– If your loved one experiences severe or persistent symptoms that indicate schizophrenia, seek professional help.

Can depression lead to schizophrenia?

Although they are two different mental health conditions, some people can have both depression and schizophrenia, Dr. Champaneri says. He adds, “Although depression cannot directly cause schizophrenia, it can worsen preexisting symptoms or make susceptible individuals more likely to develop schizophrenia.”

Is schizophrenia preventable? to take action

Although schizophrenia is not always preventable, there are things you can do to reduce your risk or lessen its effects. Dr. Champaneri advises:

-Rapid intervention: Treating and diagnosing symptoms as early as possible can improve outcomes and avoid complications.

– Nurturing and supportive setting: People with schizophrenia can manage their symptoms better and live better lives when they are in a caring and supportive environment.

Healthy Lifestyle: Regular exercise, a balanced diet, adequate sleep, and stress-reduction techniques can improve mental health and well-being in general.

Can schizophrenia be cured?

Dr. Champaneri says, “Although schizophrenia is a chronic illness that needs to be managed over time, it can be successfully treated through a combination of medication, counseling, and support systems. There is currently no cure for schizophrenia, but treatment can help people manage their symptoms, their reduce the risk of relapse and enjoy a happy, fulfilling life.”

Also Read: Obesity: It’s Not About Looks! Excess weight can affect mental health – expert explains

Coping with Schizophrenia: Dos and Don’ts

Dr. Champaneri suggests the following dos and don’ts for family members and friends who are closely associated with the schizophrenic person:

To do:

– Promote adherence to prescriptions and treatment plans.
– Offer empathy and emotional support without passing judgment.
– Learn about the management of schizophrenia.
– Promote interaction with others and joining support networks.

Don’t:

– Discriminating or stigmatizing people with schizophrenia.
– Ignore or deny their symptoms or experiences.
– Try to control the symptoms without consulting a doctor.
– Disrespect your personal health to help someone with schizophrenia.

“Schizophrenia is a complex mental disorder that requires in-depth knowledge, prompt treatment and continued support. We can improve the lives of people affected by schizophrenia by increasing good outcomes and reducing stigma through compassionate care and increased awareness,” said Dr. Champaneri.

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