Youth Ambassador Series: Exploring Different Mental Health Disorders – Schizophrenia

As part of NAMI Eastside’s Youth Ambassador program, Jinwoo “Antonio” Lee is exploring the eight different mental health disorders defined by the World Health Organization (WHO).

 

About Schizophrenia

NAMI Eastside Youth Ambassador Jinwoo “Antonio” Lee

The fifth mental disorder that the World Health Organization classified is schizophrenia.  The word comes from Greek origins, “schizo” as “split” and “phrene” as “mind.” Unlike other mental disorders that affect people’s emotions, schizophrenia distorts cognition, which profoundly challenges daily life. Schizophrenia is far from a rare disorder – 1 in 300 people are affected by schizophrenia worldwide. Thus, it is crucial to raise awareness about this disorder. Why is schizophrenia a serious disorder? How can it be prevented or treated?

What are the possible causes of schizophrenia? Like other mental disorders, there are no evident causes of schizophrenia. Research suggests a lot of complex factors that can lead to schizophrenia: physical, genetic, psychological, and environmental. There is a possibility that schizophrenia has a biological basis, which means it can be passed over generations. The other cause is neurological – relating to brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. Oversupply of dopamine and serotonin and decreased levels of norepinephrine can contribute to the neurological cause of schizophrenia. Also, highly stressful situations or exposure to a hallucinogen (for example, marijuana, LSD, peyote, etc) can be an environmental cause of the development of schizophrenia. 

What are the symptoms and treatments of schizophrenia? Since the main cause of schizophrenia is related to the brain, the symptoms are related to patients’ cognitive abilities. Hallucinations, “hearing voices or seeing things that do not exist,” are the main symptoms of schizophrenia, where people’s brains create distorted perceptions and beliefs. In addition, it can decrease one’s ability to plan and communicate. It can negatively affect emotions, too. To thoroughly diagnose and treat patients, proper medical examinations should be processed by a psychiatrist or related medical doctors. Medications vary by individual, and antipsychotic medicines and cognitive behavioral therapy are the most commonly used methods to treat schizophrenia. 

Thus, people should pay more attention to schizophrenia. A lot of people believe schizophrenia is a rare disorder, but in fact, over 20 million people worldwide suffer from this disorder. Patients who suffer from symptoms of schizophrenia may have a hard time in their lives. As students, patients cannot normally plan and space out their schedules and have a hard time emotionally with their friendships. As adults, patients can have a hard time in their workplaces or leisure time or lose joy in their emotions. In order to become more aware of people struggling with schizophrenia, people should take actions such as learning more about mental disorders, voicing their opinions for policy changes, and creating an inclusive society where those people wouldn’t be isolated or separated. It is essential not to be a bystander when it comes to awareness of schizophrenia.

 

Works Cited

Bhandari, Smitha. “Schizophrenia: An Overview.” WebMD, www.webmd.com/schizophrenia/mental-health-schizophrenia. Accessed 6 Feb. 2024.

George, Erin L. “Historical and Contemporary Understandings of Schizophrenia.” MentalHelp.net, www.mentalhelp.net/schizophrenia/understanding/. Accessed 6 Feb. 2024.

“Mental Disorders.” World Health Organization, www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/mental-disorders. Accessed 6 Feb. 2024.

“Schizophrenia.” NHS Inform, www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/mental-health/schizophrenia/#:~:text=Schizophrenia%20is%20usually%20treated%20with,cognitive%20behavioural%20therapy%20(CBT). Accessed 6 Feb. 2024.

“What Is Schizophrenia?” American Psychiatric Association, www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/schizophrenia/what-is-schizophrenia#:~:text=Schizophrenia%20is%20a%20chronic%20brain,thinking%20and%20lack%20of%20motivation. Accessed 6 Feb. 2024.