What are the First Symptoms of Schizophrenia?
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Early Symptoms of Schizophrenia Can Lead You to Obtain Early Treatment
Each year nearly 3 million people are diagnosed with schizophrenia. This complex mental illness features a break from reality, making living with it very taxing. The symptoms may come on slowly, therefore they may be dismissed as something else.
With schizophrenia it is always best to begin treatment as early in the illness arc as you can. The key is to notice the symptoms early on, and have the loved one assessed by a mental health expert. This early intervention can improve the quality of life for years to come.
What is Schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia is a complex mental health disorder that features a loss of touch with reality. The illness is known by its disordered thoughts, which may lead to severe impairment. Schizophrenia is a chronic illness that requires lifelong treatment to help manage the symptoms and improve quality of life.
Science has not yet determined the exact cause of schizophrenia. The illness seems to be triggered due to genetics, such as a gene mutation or a family history of mental illness. Environmental factors are also said to play a role. Some of these factors might include being exposed to certain viral infections or lack of proper nutrition in utero. Other causal factors might be extreme poverty, trauma, childhood neglect, and the effects of certain substances like LSD.
Schizophrenia is considered a brain disease. The brain of the schizophrenic is not the same as a healthy person’s brain. Brain imaging has revealed a variance in brain structure, as well as a reduced number of connections between brain cells.
Classic symptoms of this disease include:
- Abnormal thinking.
- Unusual emotional response.
- Poor eye contact.
- Avoids talking to others.
- Lacks motivation.
- Rigid posture.
- May stay in bed all day to avoid others.
- Lack of expression, flat affect.
- Impaired thoughts.
- Psychosis; hallucinations or delusions.
Early Signs of Schizophrenia
The early signs of this illness will show up in the 20s in most cases. In childhood they may have seemed a little odd, but the symptoms emerge during college age. Some of the early signs of the disease include:
- They isolate themselves. The young person may avoid social contact, preferring to remain in his or her own little world.
- The illness is triggered by substance use. Some may begin using substances to help manage the early symptoms, only to have the substance trigger the illness. Substance use is present in 50% of those with schizophrenia.
- Their thoughts become their world. They begin to live inside their own head, and sometimes say they hear voices.
- They may talk nonsense. Their speech may become incoherent, where they are not making any sense.
- They may become aggressive. The illness may frustrate them and they may act out with violence or aggression.
- They play video games all day. The young person may spend the day in the make believe world of video games.
- They avoid responsibilities. They may stop doing their college coursework and begin failing in school. For those in their late 20s, they don’t pay their bills, show up for work, or may neglect their child.
Parents often choose to ignore these early signs of mental illness. Even with the signs that their child isn’t doing well in school or socially, they may remain in denial. They explain the symptoms away, saying their child is just struggling to adjust in college or to young adulthood.
Many times it is when their child is showing aggressive behavior or is involved in drug use will parents get their child assessed. Their child may have even overdosed and landed in the ER, prompting parents to have their child seen.
Treatment Options for Schizophrenia
At present, there is no cure for the illness. To improve functioning, a multi-pronged approach to treatment offers the best results. These include:
Medication. Psychiatric meds are the mainstay treatment for this severe mental illness. The substances that have shown to be the most helpful include antipsychotics, both old and new generation versions. Side effects can be an issue with the psych substances. There are many options within this drug class, so it will come down to a balance of risk and reward. Mood stabilizers and antidepressants are also helpful for treating schizophrenia.
Psycho-Social. Support for the families of someone with the illness is crucial. These family therapies and community support sources help relieve some of the burden. Family members are taught problem solving techniques and are informed about their loved one’s mental illness. This helps the family be better equipped to help them.
ECT. Electroconvulsive therapy may be needed if the person does not respond to the psych meds.
Treatment. About half of those with schizophrenia also struggle with a substance problem. When an SUD is present they will need to enroll in a treatment program.
ACT. Assertive community treatment involves social services and community resources to help the person on a daily basis. ACT services can help reduce the problem of homelessness among those with the illness.
CBT. Cognitive behavioral therapy helps the person change their disordered thought patterns. This helps them to make better choices and to function better socially.
When a loved one begins showing the signs of schizophrenia they are best served with speedy interventions. Instead of being in denial and ignoring the symptoms, address the problem and get the person the help they deserve.
Mental Health Hope Online Support Resource for Mental Health
Contact the team at Mental Health Hope today for help for a loved one showing signs of mental illness. Schizophrenia is a complex mental health disorder. Our team can provide important information and guidance that points you in the right direction. Call us today at (877) 967-9274.
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