1. Schizophrenia: An Introduction
Schizophrenia is one of the world’s most studied psychological disorders. It is notable for the severity of its symptoms and their effects on those suffering from it. The American Psychological Association defines ‘schizophrenia’ as ‘a serious mental illness characterized by incoherent or illogical thoughts, bizarre behavior and speech, and delusions or hallucinations, such as hearing voices’ (apa.org). Schizophrenia affects cognitive processes. This means that the way and what a person thinks is altered by the disorder. This results in behavior that is out of the ordinary. Schizophrenia can affect anyone and depends on a number of different factors. The symptoms differ depending on what factors caused the disorder in a patient. There are also various methods to treat schizophrenia, the most common and widely-used being psychosocial and anti-psychotic medications (nimh.nih.gov).
The symptoms of schizophrenia manifest themselves in different ways and at different times in a person’s life. The usual age at which symptoms manifest themselves is between 16 and 30. According the National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health, there are three phases in the symptoms of schizophrenia. The first phase, known as the ‘prodromal’ phase, shows deterioration in personal functioning. Memory, concentration, social skills and communication are affected in this stage. Patients also experience difficulty focusing on daily activities. This is also the stage when bizarre thought and actions are first noticed. This is followed by the second phase, referred to as the acute phase, where positive symptoms that include hallucinations, delusions, distress and agitation, manifest themselves in an individual. It is usually in this stage that treatment is sought and applied. The effects that stay on after these treatments are negative symptoms and resemble those of the prodromal period. This phase is followed by a third phase, which could last several years, and is interrupted by relapses. These relapses require additional treatment (“Schizophrenia”, 16 – 17).
Psychosocial treatment and anti-psychotic medication/drugs are the two most commonly used treatments for schizophrenia. The treatment is usually determined by the stage at which the patient is currently displaying symptoms. The prodromal phase is usually treated through psychosocial methods. This includes...