Schizophrenia (Madness): Causes, Treatments

Schizophrenia simply translates as “split personality”. It means when a person is having a different personality from others or is out of touch with reality.

click here to read the symptoms of Schizophrenia in our previous write up.

We are going to continue here with the Causes and available treatment option for the serious mental disease as well the available centres in Nigeria where care is given.

Causes of Schizophrenia

There have been different possible ideas to what could be responsible for this condition. Some of them are;

Dopamine abnormality: dopamine is a substance that controls what happens in our brain. Abnormalities in the pathways of this substance have been suspected as a possible cause of schizophrenia. This is because, some drugs & substances that increases the amount of dopamine in the body like amphetamines can cause schizophrenia-like symptoms in some people. Also all drugs that are effective and used to treat people having schizophrenia work by blocking the action/production of this dopamine.

Use of illicit drugs: abuse of legal or illicit drugs like amphetamine, cannabis, as we mentioned above can create this conditions in people. No wonder it is commonly seen among drug addicts.

Neurological dysfunction: these symptoms are also seen in people with complex partial seizures (a type of convulsion/epilepsy), where a part of the brain known as the left temporal lobe limbic structures are affected, e.g. temporal lobe epilepsy.

Birth complications: It has also been observed that birth complications are associated with an increased risk of schizophrenia.

Environmental causes: Factors such as stressful life events and highly charged emotional environments (high expressed emotion) can have a role in precipitating episodes of the illness.

Genetic: The risk for persons with an affected relative is significantly higher. This has been seen commonly in cases of twins.

Treatment of Schizophrenia

This depends on the condition, if acute or chronic. All persons with this condition should see a doctor, particularly, a psychiatric doctor.
Note that: psychiatry does not mean madness. It is only a branch of medicine that deals with people with mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder, etc. A psychiatrist is a mental health specialist.

You should know that this condition cannot be cured. Drugs given for schizophrenia are to be taken for life, just like that of Hypertension or Diabetes. Treatment basically involves the use of antipsychotic drugs combined with social, emotional and psycho-educational supports.

Treatment Resistance

A proportion of patients with schizophrenia do not respond to the standard treatment approaches. When this happens, you need to know if;

  • the person received all his/her drugs.
  • does the person still use alcohol and/or other illicit drugs.

Consult your doctor (psychiatrist) again with these information. The person would be re-evaluated and placed on a different drug. Its just like when chloroquine fails to treat malaria, the person can be switched to Arthemeter & lumefantrine.

Physical health

Patients with this condition are at greater risk of physical health problems, such as cardiovascular
disease, diabetes and cancers. The causes of this include lifestyle, side-effects of medication and what appears to be a higher inherent risk.

Centres for Management of Schizophrenia in Nigeria.

In Nigeria, facilities were created for people with this condition, and they are still available and functional.

  • In Lagos, one can be seen in Yaba, popularly known as Yaba Left.
  • In Enugu, we have one at Federal Neuropsychiatry, New Heaven.
  • Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Aro, Abeokuta,
  • Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Centre, Kwara,
  • Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Uselu, Benin,
  • Federal Psychiatric Hospital, Calabar,
  • Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Enugu,
  • Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Kaduna,
  • Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Maiduguri,
  • State Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Awka, Anambra,
  • Psychiatric Hospital, Eket, Akwa Ibom,
  • Psychiatric Hospital, Sokoto, Kano
  • State Psychiatric Hospital, Kano, and
  • Psychiatric Hospital, Abia.
schizophrenia
Federal Neuropsychiatry Hospital Enugu

All these are dedicated Psychiatry Hospitals. There are a number of other hospitals that offere Psychiatry services such as in Teaching Hospitals. Individual with this condition should be taken to these centres for rehabilitation, rather than allowed to be on the streets.

Types of schizophrenia

A number of subtypes of schizophrenia have been identified, based on particular patterns of symptoms.
simple schizophrenia: negative symptoms predominate.
hebephrenic schizophrenia: mood is inappropriate with giggling and shallowness, behaviour is
irresponsible. Delusions and hallucinations are fragmented. Thoughts are disorganized. Commonly starts around the age of 15–25 years.
paranoid schizophrenia: complex delusions and hallucinations. Delusions may be persecutory,
grandiose or religious.
catatonic schizophrenia: psychomotor disturbance varying from stupor to sudden outbursts of
activity. Waxy flexibility, automatic obedience and negativism.

Try to observe your child and friends today and know when they need to talk to a mental health specialist for check up. You could be saving their lives and making them better, especially in our environment.

When next you see a Mad person, think that it could possibly be Schizophrenia that wasn’t handled.

Authors

  • Obasi Chinedu David attended the College of Medicine, University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, in ituku-ozalla, Enugu state, Nigeria.

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