Schizophrenia is a chronic disease that affects the brain (NIH 2008). No other part of the body is affected by this disorder, although patients could end up hurting themselves as they struggle with the disease. Persistent medical research has shown that both men and women can get affected at certain periods of their lives (Häfner 2002). The medical profession has not yet identified convincing causes of this disease, though it has been established that it is hereditary, that is, it is passed from one generation to the other, which explains why it has quite a few victims that amount to about 1% of the United States’ adult population (Torrey & Yolken, 2003).
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Torrey & Yolken (2003) further established that some environmental factors at birth could increase chances of the baby developing this disease in later stages of life; the propensity of acquiring the disease could increase if babies are born at the transition of winter and spring when they are born in urban areas, as well as other perinatal and postnatal conditions. Though Schizophrenia is a brain disorder that brings out symptoms similar to those of other mental illnesses, it is easier for the medical profession to identify it because of various key symptoms. Medical Encyclopaedia (2006) lists the special symptoms as they will be discussed below.
- Voices: People suffering from Schizophrenia tend to hear voices that tell them to hurt themselves. This is one of the most visible signs of the disease and can be understood by medical practitioners, family members, or friends that are familiar with the disease. Individuals who see their peers in such conditions are thus supposed to take unnecessary measures that will lead to a diagnosis of the disease for quicker treatment (Hoffman 2003).
- Little Care: Patients with this brain disorder also seem to have little care for their well-being. It is therefore easy to see these individuals in less pleasant physical presentations than normal. This symptom can also be identified by their peers and friends, who should in turn seek medical intervention on behalf. Family members and friends should thus keep helping their ailing compatriots with hygiene matters such as taking baths, doing laundry, and staying presentable.
- Overwhelmed and Hopeless: Individuals suffering from the disease tend to feel overwhelmed by absolutely everything that goes on in their lives. They could therefore get irritated by little stuff that could have instead been simple things that can pass without notice or concern. People associating with patients with this sort of symptom should be careful not to portray the behaviors that could lead to such agitation. Instead, they should minimize such occurrences to help patients heal smoothly. Talking to the patients in a way that could enhance their hopes in life and activities they usually engage in is one way of reducing patients’ overwhelmed, as well as keeping them with the hope that all will be well.
- Fear: Some patients could show immense amounts of fear that could even include living in their houses or even bedrooms. This could be exacerbated by the voices that some patients could be feeling. It is not unusual to hear patients saying that they could hear voices of some other individuals or creatures who intend to injure or even take lives (Healthy Place 2006). This symptom could be accompanied by shouts or deep silence from the patients. Patients experiencing this symptom should be kept in the company at all times lest they end up harming themselves in the attempt to run away from purported assailants. This is even though patients with this symptom will most likely tend to prefer being left alone by withdrawing (Harris County 2006) themselves from public circles completely.
- Hallucinations: Schizophrenia patients tend to see nonexistent things, which explain most of their behavior. Some of the non-existence things include the actions of the voices they could be haring, such as the people who want to control or end patients’ lives. It is not easy for friends, family members, or individuals close to patients to explain that there was nothing they were seeing, that is, all was happening in their brains and could just go away if they spot thinking such happenings. Despite the hard task of explaining reality, individuals accompanying patients should ensure contacting a local medical professional that will intervene. These individuals should also ensure maintaining communication with patients as a way of keeping them busy and away from the mental pictures that were being exemplified.
Since this disease is a mental illness, members of the family and friends should always consider seeking medical intervention for their ailing peer(s). At the medical facility, all the symptoms that the patient in question has been showing should be communicated to the relevant medal official, or fill them in the forms provided. It is at that medical officials in the facility should make use of psychiatrist services. This is because only psychiatric tests that can help in understanding whether the patient is suffering from this disease (Maruish 187). In addition, a psychiatrist can easily deal with the case without irritating the patient.
Such a procedure makes the rest of the diagnosis and treatment procedures helpful and finally successful in attaining the key goal: get healing. It is important for the same team of physiatrists that participated from the initial stages to be associated with the entire treatment period. This arrangement will make following up with the medication much advantageous to the patient, as it will be easy for the medical professions to tweak their medication depending on the progress being made. In case all psychiatrists cannot attend sessions, they should come up with occasions by which each of them will be with the patient and subsequently brief their colleagues.
Psychiatrists should however be careful not to agitate the patient. For a successful diagnosis that will not agitate the patient, psychiatrists and other medical professionals should work together; members of the family should also be engaged in the treatment so they can understand how to help their member to go through the healing process. In a nutshell, cooperation from all stakeholders is important during the diagnosis and treatment period. To make the diagnosis helpful to the patient, the Medical Encyclopaedia (2006) has listed five elaborate steps that ensure success in understanding what the patient could be going through. The five key areas are described below in detail.
Since this is a hereditary disease, psychiatrists and other health professionals should first understand the history of the disease throughout the recent history of the patient’s family generations (Robbins 102). This can be used to understand when last such a case was reported in the family and thus ask whether they were the same symptoms. Secondly, these professionals should understand the time the current patient started exemplifying the systems.
Patient history from childhood to the current age should thus be investigated. This is the point that families, friends, schoolmates, teammates, workmates, and other individuals that have a close connection with the patient become very helpful. They should help medical professionals explain the symptoms at various stages of growth and different situations and environments. Such measures greatly help in understanding what triggers symptoms to start occurring in the patient, which will further lead to the proper medication and quicker treatment, both of which are advantageous to the patient and other stakeholders.
Genetic and family history
Other than understanding the recent family history, especially in that section where the patient has been alive, psychiatrists should also investigate family history from all sides of parents up to the earliest point (Joseph 115). The history shall, however, only involve when and who in the family had the disease. This shall help psychiatrists understand how often the disease occurs in the family, as well as how different individuals were affected.
Understanding the frequency of the disease in the family is important because it prepares members to face such a health issue at some point in time. In case it is too often, members should be well trained on dealing with the disease when it attacks them or other fellow members. Likewise, the family doctors shall also take necessary measures in preparing themselves with how to face the disease and subsequently help clients through such tough times. Further, understanding the magnitude of the disease when it attacks will help psychiatrists to know which level of the disease they could be dealing with.
For instance, if most members of the family who have had the disease faced little challenges, then it shall be almost certain that they will have to do several procedures that will see the patient go ahead with normal life. This should however not be used into believing that the current case is simple; more tests should be done to completely understand how much the patient was affected. In case it happens that most members of the family have a long time and heavy struggle with the disorder, then the psychiatrists shall understand they are dealing with a serious matter that needs immediate and total attention. Members of the patient’s family should give vivid descriptions of other victims’ experiences with the disease.
How the patient used to perform normal duties before the catastrophe struck should be investigated. Like in the previous point, family members and friends should be requested to give vivid descriptions of the patient’s behavior before the disease symptoms started to show. This helps medical professionals understand whether the disease symptoms struck abruptly or gradually, which aids in selecting the treatment procedures to follow. In case it happened gradually, members of the family should be advised to immediately inform healthy authorities. Likewise, they should report early in case the symptoms start showing gradationally; this could afford faster treatment and thus avoid catastrophic events.
Symptoms Duration and Immediate Course
This is an important factor for the health authorities to take into consideration; it helps in understanding how long it takes for the symptoms to develop into full blows disease. Health officials can thus make quicker decisions on the right treatment. This depends on the cooperation that the authorities get from the patient, together with friends and family (Goldberg 1988).
Response to pharmacological therapy
Pharmacological therapy refers to the treatment that is directed to certain symptoms (MEAO 1999). This helps medical officials to well understand whether the symptoms exemplified by the patients are those of the disease in question. Should the patient test positive, then doctors can go ahead and test for the other symptoms. The patient’s response to treatment provided for certain symptoms should always be monitored for some time to give conclusive results.
How to Help Schizophrenia Patients
To successfully help patients recover from this tormenting disease, it is important for health practitioners too, first of all, understand the symptoms described in the earlier sections of this paper (Wahlbeck & Cheine 2000). To ensure that those symptoms are right, the practitioners should ensure undertaking pharmacological therapy on all the symptoms that the patient is showing. This will lead to making proper decisions regarding the best medication that will lead to a successful healing process.
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Secondly, patients should be hospitalized for close observation from medical professionals. This will ensure that the patient is receiving the best medication possible as well as round-the-clock observation, which enables health administrators to attend to emergencies or make the needed changes in the treatment process. This controlled environment should serve the patient well because there will be people to talk to and accompany them at all times (Arieti, 814).
Thirdly, the controlled environment should not resemble seclusion from the rest of the public, because this could increase the severity of the disease. All the hospital officials having contact with the patient should be asked to be very careful and friendly with the patient. Never should they make the patient feel that they have been secluded from the public area due to their medical situation. This aspect could impact the healing process in the wrong way; should thus be avoided at all costs.
Fourthly, medical officials should serve as the patients’ best friends. The development of a working rapport between the two parties should be cultivated right from the beginning of the treatment process to the end. Patients are more likely to comply with treatment procedures when health specialists become sort of their friends. Family members and friends should be part of this rapport, too: the major reason is that they also need to have peace of mind as they see their loved one healing at pleasant rates.
Fifthly, and this applies to just the medication process, health specialists should consider undertaking some neuroleptic medications that help in controlling chemical balance in the brain and thus control symptoms(Valenstein 1998). This could succeed in bringing patients down to the self-awareness levels that they can understand themselves and express feelings to the doctor. This measure should be undertaken after doctors have become sure that the patients being shown by the patient are those of Schizophrenia. All the medications that patients would receive should consistently be monitored for a certain period.
After following those procedures in the treatment process, medical professionals should ensure that family members, friends, and workmates have received enough educational information regarding the disease. That will be the surest way of ensuring that patients with Schizophrenia will be assured of quality care when the disease attacks while at home, at work, or during leisure time with friends.
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