Many definitions seem confusing when it comes to defining schizophrenia.
Schizophrenia is a condition where the receipt of sensory information is distorted to the degree that the way one perceives the world (from the five senses, i.e. hearing, vision, touch, taste, smell) differs drastically from actual reality yet, it is perceived as real. When mis-information becomes the dominant sensory input, the output becomes distorted and we see that thinking becomes altered to the point where it is a thought disorder and bizzare thoughts and delusional thinking dominates. If you can’t recognize what is real, it becomes difficult to manage emotions, think clearly, communicate and make judgment calls.
Gradually we see more and more reports of hallucinations with strange and bizarre thoughts and behaviors. Such people begin to misconstrue reality and present with paranoid suspicions that others are out to harm them which may scare or frighten them. Behavior and speech can become quite disorganized. Behavior may appear so bizarre that one might think that these patients are on a street drug. Advancing cases can’t keep track of thoughts and trail off which is a symptom called ‘ideas of reference’.
In the state of sensory over-stimulation, emotions flatten out and ones expression becomes ‘wooden’. Onset is gradual and insidious but some symptoms can advance quickly when the biochemical upset starts to dominate. These patients tend to withdraw from the over-stimulation and prefer to be left alone. This is called ‘withdraw from society’.
Those affected are unfortunately often the young and intelligent portion of society.
Early Onset and hopeful Early Intervention
In the young we see the social development landmarks have not been well ingrained and many lose out in this regard. Early in the course of the disease however there is less brain tissue structure compromise and this makes for the best timing for intervention. Of course interventions vary.
The clinical nutrition rationale for treatment is explained well in the following review on schizophrenia.
Can Schizophrenia be Prevented
If you look at the definition of prevention we can see what we mean when we say we are helping you prevent a disease such as schizophrenia.
Primary prevention methods of assessment and treatment would look to avoid the occurrence of schizophrenia. At this point in time we can assume based on historical and anecdotal response rates with clinical nutrition that it is possible to prevent high-risk populations from preventing schizophrenia. Health promotion efforts of this type are of course a thing of the future.
Secondary prevention methods of diagnosing, assessing (biochemical nutirent imbalances) and treating schizophrenia would look to intervene in the early stage before it causes significant harm or morbidity. Based on historical and anecdotal response rates with clinical nutrition it is possible that cases can respond early on. Of course recognition of the pre-schizophrenic (prodromal) symptoms is a key component and here below we provide a snapshot look at what prodromal symptoms to look out for.
Prodromal symptoms to look out for include in descending order with the more frequent symptoms listed first include: reduced concentration, reduced attention, reduced interest/motivation/drive, depressed mood, disturbed sleep, anxiety, withdrawal from social situations, suspiciousness, deteriorated role functioning, and irritability. (This research article goes into great depth on the insidous nature of pre-schizophrenic symptoms as described above — Yung & McGorry: The prodromal phase of first-episode psychosis: past and current conceptualizations. Schizophrenia Bulletin 1996; 22(2): 353-70.)
In tertiary prevention you must interceed with a method that aims to reduce the negative effects of an existing disease state by aiming to restore function and reduce disease-related symptom complications. So this includes helping patients that are more chronic to lessen the degree and frequency of the main symptoms of hallucinations, delusions, emotional flattening and social withdrawal. Other aspects of a successful tertiary prevention treatment include may involve helping patients sleep better, concentrate better, and start to enjoy life and feel more motivated.
In chronic cases in our clinic we rate symptoms before and after treatment and have found a significant portion acheiving an average 40-60% improvement over the course of treatment.
Quaternary prevention methods aim to mitigate and avoid if possible the effects caused by use of unnecessary or excessive medicine realted interventions. Medication side effects include unwanted muscle movement effects and cardiovascular risks and other lengthy lists of putative symptoms caused secondary to neuroleptic treatment.
Manganese/B3/C/EPA theray can offer great benefit to clients experiencing muscle movement side effects (EPS). The end goal is to help alleviate these effects directly and by working with your MD to maintain the lowest effective dose of the medication causing the problem ideally after acheiving 40-60% consistant improvement of symptoms.
Schizophrenia is more Common than you think
If you group 100 people from the general population over age 18, you will find one schizophrenic. Globally this translates into about 40,000,000+ schizophrenics world wide. Globally, 700,000 to 2,800,000 million new cases arise every year.
Who is affected with Schizophrenia
The most commonly affected are the young with an average of age of onset of 18 if you are male and 25 if you are female.
Impact on the Family Unit
Schizophrenia affects a person’s functioning in 3 ways: it affects daily activities, the ability to function in an occupation and, the ability to function socially in relationships or otherwise.
Daily we see problems in self-care in the following areas: dressing, grooming, bathing, looking after health related issues, and keeping the home environment in order and clean.
Socially we see strain on relationships due to the communication barriers. They exhibit poor communication skills and poor ability to sustain deep relations which require more advanced social skills and, we see a compromise in their ability to care for others.
Occupationally what do we see? We see poor ability to not only acquire but also sustain/hold a job. Poor social and cognitive skills are not desirable in today’s work environments so job tasks and responsibilities need to be if possible, tailored to the individual. Work around the house can even be difficult for a schizophrenic and for students, homework and studying routines are often quite difficult to do.