Schizophrenia is a psychiatric diagnosis that is descriptive of a mental disorder in which the person experiences abnormalities in the perception or the expression of reality. The symptoms are typically exhibited in the early years of adulthood. The is no specific cause for schizophrenia, but research does indicate there may be factors that are encouraging the disorder such as environmental, biological, or psychological stressors.
There are three sets of diagnostic criteria that must be met before a person can be diagnosed with schizophrenia.
The first criteria include characteristic symptoms and two or more must be present and must be exhibited for the majority of a one-month period. Those symptoms include:
- Hallucinations – a hallucination is a sensory experience in the absence of any actual physical stimuli. For example, the person may hear voices saying things that no one else can hear or feel the sensation of bugs crawling on him in the absence of any actual infestation.
- Delusions – a delusion is an unshakable belief that simply is not based on reason and factual reality. For instance, the person might believe that others are out to get him when this has no basis in reality.
- Speech problems – the inability to express formal thoughts in conversation.
- Behavior problems such as dressing inappropriately, frequent crying, or catatonic behavior.
- Negative symptoms such as lack of emotional response, lack of speech, or lack of motivation.
There are different types of schizophrenia based on the constellation of symptoms displayed. However, generally speaking, to be diagnosed with schizophrenia, a person has to either hallucinate or have delusions AND,
The second criterion is social/occupational dysfunction, which means that the person has been unable to function at work, in personal relationships, or in self-care for a substantial amount of time since the onset of the disorder.
The third criterion is duration. The disorder must have had continuous signs of disturbance for at least six months and exhibited symptoms for at least one month of that time.
There are some treatments and medications available that can assist in alleviating the symptoms of this disorder. The treatment for schizophrenia often involves neuroleptic medication which can help alleviate some of the worse symptoms of schizophrenia.
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