What Is Schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia is a chronic, severe, and disabling brain disorder.
It affects about 1 percent of people all over the world.
People with schizophrenia may hear voices other people don't hear
or believe that others are reading their minds, controlling their
thoughts, or plotting to harm them. These experiences are terrifying
and can cause fearfulness, withdrawal, or extreme agitation. People
with schizophrenia may not make sense when they talk, may sit for
hours without moving or talking much, or can seem perfectly fine
until they talk about what they are really thinking. Since many
people with schizophrenia have difficulty holding a job or caring
for themselves, the burden on their families and society is significant
Schizophrenia is a major mental illness characterized
by persistent defects in the perception or expression of reality.
A person suffering from untreated schizophrenia typically demonstrates
grossly disorganized thinking, and may also experience delusions
or auditory hallucinations. Although the illness primarily affects
cognition, it can also contribute to chronic problems with behavior
Schizophrenia may develop so gradually that the family and even
the person with the disease may not realize that anything is wrong
for a long period of time. This slow deterioration is referred to
as gradual-onset or insidious schizophrenia. A
gradual build-up of symptoms may or may not lead to an acute
or crisis episode of schizophrenia. An acute episode is
short and intense, and involves hallucinations, delusions, thought
disorder, and an altered sense of self.
Sometimes schizophrenia has a rapid or sudden onset.
Very dramatic changes in behaviour occur over a few weeks or even
a few days. Sudden onset usually leads fairly quickly to an acute
episode. Some people have very few such attacks in a lifetime; others
have more. Some people lead relatively normal lives between episodes.
Others find that they are very listless. depressed, and unable to
In some, the illness may develop into what is known as chronic
schizophrenia. This is a severe, long-lasting disability
characterized by social withdrawal, lack of motivation, depression,
and blunted feelings. In addition, moderate versions of acute symptoms
such as delusions and thought disorder may be present in the chronic
There are 5 recognized types of schizophrenia:
catatonic, paranoid, disorganized, undifferentiated, and residual.
Features of schizophrenia include its typical onset before the age
of 45, continuous presence of symptoms for 6 months or more, and
deterioration from a prior level of social and occupational functioning.
People with schizophrenia may show a variety of symptoms. Usually
the illness develops slowly over months or even years. At first,
the symptoms may not be noticed. For example, people may feel tense,
may have trouble sleeping, or have trouble concentrating. They become
isolated and withdrawn, and they do not make or keep friends. As
the illness progresses, psychotic symptoms develop:
• Delusions - false beliefs or thoughts
with no basis in reality
• Hallucinations - hearing, seeing, or feeling
things that are not there
• Disordered thinking - thoughts "jump"
between completely unrelated topics (the person may talk nonsense)
• Catatonic behavior - bizarre motor behavior
marked by a decrease in reactivity to the environment, or hyperactivity
that is unrelated to stimulus
• Flat affect - an appearance or mood that
shows no emotion
No single characteristic is present in all types of schizophrenia.
The risk factors include a family history of schizophrenia.
Schizophrenia appears to occur in equal rates among men and women,
but women have a later onset. For this reason, males tend to account
for more than half of patients in services with high proportions
of young adults. Although the onset of schizophrenia is typically
in young adulthood, cases of the disorder with a late onset (over
45 years) are known.
Childhood-onset schizophrenia begins after
the age of 5 and, in most cases, after relatively normal development.
Childhood schizophrenia is rare and can be difficult to differentiate
from other pervasive developmental disorders of childhood, such
No one symptom positively identifies schizophrenia. All of the
symptoms of this illness can also be found in other brain disorders.
For example psychotic symptoms may be caused by the use of drugs,
may be present in individuals with Alzheimer’s Disease, or
may be characteristics of a manic episode in bipolar disorder. However,
when a doctor sees the symptoms of schizophrenia and carefully asseses
the history and the course of the illness over six months, he or
she can almost always make a correct diagnosis.
The symptoms of schizophrenia are generally
divided into three categories, including positive, disorganized
and negative symptoms.
• Positive Symptoms, or "psychotic"
symptoms, include delusions and hallucinations because the patient
has lost touch with reality in certain important ways. "Positive"
as used here does not mean "good." Rather, it refers to
having overt symptoms that should not be there. Delusions cause
the patient to believe that people are reading their thoughts or
plotting against them, that others are secretly monitoring and threatening
them, or that they can control other people's minds. Hallucinations
cause people to hear or see things that are not there.
• Disorganized Symptoms include confused
thinking and speech, and behavior that does not make sense. For
example, people with schizophrenia sometimes have trouble communicating
in coherent sentences or carrying on conversations with others;
move more slowly, repeat rhythmic gestures or make movements such
as walking in circles or pacing; and have difficulty making sense
of everyday sights, sounds and feelings.
• Negative Symptoms include emotional flatness
or lack of expression, an inability to start and follow through
with activities, speech that is brief and lacks content, and a lack
of pleasure or interest in life. "Negative" does not,
therefore, refer to a person's attitude, but to a lack of certain
characteristics that should be there.
Schizophrenia is also associated with changes in cognition. These
changes affect the ability to remember and to plan for achieving
goals. Also, attention and motivation are diminished. The cognitive
problems of schizophrenia may be important factors in long term
Schizophrenia also affects mood. Many individuals affected with
schizophrenia become depressed, and some individuals also have apparent
mood swings and even bipolar-like states. When mood instability
is a major feature of the illness, it is called, schizoaffective
disorder, meaning that elements of schizophrenia and mood
disorders are prominently displayed by the same individual.
Cause of Schizophrenia
Scientists still do not know the specific causes of schizophrenia,
but research has shown that the brains of people with schizophrenia
are different, as a group, from the brains of people without the
illness. Like many other medical illnesses such as cancer or diabetes,
schizophrenia seems to be caused by a combination of problems
including genetic vulnerability and environmental factors that
occur during a person's development. Recent research has identified
the first genes that appear to increase risk for schizophrenia.
Like cancer and diabetes, the genes only increase the chances of
becoming ill, and do not cause the illness all by themselves.
During an acute episode of schizophrenia, hospitalization
is often required to promote safety, and to provide for the person's
basic needs such as food, rest, and hygiene.
Antipsychotic or neuroleptic medications work
by changing the balances of chemicals in the brain and are used
to control the symptoms of the illness. These medications are effective,
but are also associated with side effects that may discourage a
patient from taking them regularly. However, many of these side
effects can be addressed, and should not prevent people from seeking
treatment for this serious condition.
Common side effects from traditional antipsychotics
may include sedation and weight gain. Other side effects are known
as extrapyramidal symptoms (muscle contractions, problems of movement
and gait, and feelings of restlessness or "jitters").
Long-term risks include a movement disorder called tardive
dyskinesia, which involves involuntary movements. Newer
agents known as atypical antipsychotics, appear
to have a somewhat safer regarding side effects. They also appear
to help people who have not benefited from the older traditional
medications. Ongoing treatment with medications is usually necessary
to prevent a return of symptoms.
Supportive and problem-focused forms of psychotherapy
may be helpful for many individuals. Behavioral techniques, such
as social skills training, can be used in a therapeutic setting,
or in the patient's natural environment to promote social and occupational
Family interventions that combine support and education about
schizophrenia (psychoeducation) appear to help families cope and
reduce relapse. Patients who lack family and social support may
be helped by intensive case management programs that emphasize active
outreach and linkage to a range of community support services.
Expectations (prognosis) for Schizophrenia
There are many different potential outcomes of schizophrenia.
Most people with schizophrenia find that their symptoms improve
with medication, and some achieve substantial control of the symptoms
over time. However, others experience functional disability and
are at risk for repeated acute episodes, particularly during the
early stages of the illness.
Supported housing, vocational rehabilitation, and other community
support programs may be essential to their community tenure. People
with the most severe forms of this disorder may remain too disabled
to live independently, requiring group homes or other long-term,
structured living environments.
Homeopathy Treatment & Homeopathic Remedies for Schizophrenia
Homeopathy treats the person
as a whole. It means that homeopathic treatment focuses on the patient
as a person, as well as his pathological condition. The homeopathic
medicines are selected after a full individualizing examination
and case-analysis, which includes the medical history of the patient,
physical and mental constitution etc.
Following homeopathic medicines
cover symptoms of various types and stages of schizophrenia:
Lachesis, Ars-alb, Aurum-met,
Hyoscyamus, Lycopodium, Pulsatilla,
Stramonium, Sulphur, Aconite,
Belladona, Ignatia, Merc-sol, Psorinum,
Rhus-tox, Anacardium, Calc-carb,
Causticum, Cimicifuga, Helleborus,
Kali-brom, Natrum-sulph, Opium,
* Medicines indicated in Blue Color
may prove especially useful in sudden onset schizophrenia and acute
crisis of schizophrenia, depending upon the symptom presentation.
** Medicines indicated in Red Color
may prove especially useful if depression and suicidal tendencies
*** Medicines indicated in Green Color
may prove especially useful if 'flat-effect' is marked.
Homeopathic medicines are selected on the basis of symptoms, cause,
family history and constitution of the person affected. Considering
all these factors any of the above (or some other) homeopathic medicine
may be indicated and helpful in a case of schizophrenia.