Schizophrenia is a severe mental illness that affects the way a person thinks, acts, and expresses emotions. People who suffer from schizophrenia believe people are out to harm them, control their thought patterns and, read their mind. People with schizophrenia have a hard time making out what's real and what's not causing the persons personality and behavior to change sudden, this is referred to as a psychotic episode. Schizophrenia suffers will experience different psychotic episodes during their lifetime. Even though schizophrenia is a long life disease it can be controlled with the right treatment, but first it must be diagnosed.
Getting diagnosed isn't easy because the symptoms of schizophrenia can be similar to those caused by other health problems. Therefore a full psychiatric evaluation will be conducted, as well as medical history evaluation, an exam, and laboratory test. At the psychiatric evaluation you will be asked a serious of questions about your symptoms, your family history of mental health problems, and about your psychiatric history.
When you go for your medical history evaluation you will be asked questions about your and your family's health history. When the doctor has finished the evaluation they will perform a physical examination to look for medical problems that could be adding to the problems. Than lastly you will go for laboratory testing, even though the test can't diagnose schizophrenia they can rule out other medical problems. Depending on what they find they may order a MRI or a CT scan to take pictures of your brain to look for abnormalities.
Once the doctors have determined that schizophrenia is in fact the problem they will start the treatment process. The treatment process consists of two phases one focuses on the severe symptoms of a psychotic episodes. While the other phase focuses on preventing future attacks, all the while improving functioning. These two treatment phases are need because during the treatment process people go through three separate phases of recovery: the acute phase, the stabilization phase, and the maintenance phase.
In the acute phase the treatments aim is to get the psychotic symptoms like: delusions, hallucinations, and confused thinking under control. During this phase of treatment you will be given medication daily until the psychotic symptoms are under control so you can't be a danger to others or yourself. The stabilization phase is what you go through once you have your acute psychotic symptoms controlled. In this phase of treatment you will continue to experience schizophrenia symptoms only not as strong. Therefore the aim of this treatment is to keep you from relapsing by reducing symptoms even more. The maintenance phase is considered the long term recovery phase. During this treatment phase the aim is to reduce the risk of setback, maintain remission control, and teach skills for everyday life. This treatment phase consist of support, counseling, social rehabilitation, and medication.
The medications that are used for the treatment of schizophrenia are called antipsychotics. These medications work by reducing the psychotic symptoms of the disorder. They also work good to control the delusions, hallucinations, and confused thinking although they don't help with lack of emotions and motivations. Most symptoms react to the medication with-in just a few days, but other symptoms don't react to it for a few weeks or longer. But once the medications have started people are likely to see a considerable amount of improvement.
ReferenceSmith, M, Larson, H, Kemp, G, Jaffe, J, & Segal, J. (2001). Getting help for schizophrenia. Retrieved from http://helpguide.org/mental/schizophrenia_treatment_support.htm#authors