Updated May 24th, 2024 at 08:44 IST

World Schizophrenia Day 2024: History, Causes, Treatment

World Schizophrenia Day is a crucial observance dedicated to raising awareness about schizophrenia, its causes, and treatment options.

World Schizophrenia Day | Image:Freepik
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World Schizophrenia Day is observed annually on May 24th to raise awareness about schizophrenia, a chronic and severe mental health disorder that affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves. This day aims to combat stigma, promote understanding, and encourage those affected to seek help and support. It also serves as an opportunity for mental health professionals and organisations to disseminate information about the latest research and advancements in treatment. The observance underscores the importance of mental health and advocates for improved mental health care systems worldwide.

Causes

The exact cause of schizophrenia remains unclear, but it is believed to result from a combination of genetic, environmental, and neurobiological factors.

Schizophrenia tends to run in families, suggesting a genetic predisposition. Individuals with a first-degree relative (such as a parent or sibling) with schizophrenia have a higher risk of developing the disorder. However, no single gene is responsible; rather, multiple genes contribute to the risk.

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Exposure to certain environmental stressors can increase the risk of schizophrenia. These may include prenatal exposure to infections, malnutrition, or stressful life events during critical periods of brain development. Substance abuse, particularly the use of psychoactive or recreational drugs during adolescence and early adulthood, can also trigger or exacerbate symptoms.

Abnormalities in brain structure and chemistry are associated with schizophrenia. This includes imbalances in neurotransmitters such as dopamine and glutamate, which play crucial roles in regulating mood and behaviour. Brain imaging studies have shown differences in the brain structure and central nervous system of people with schizophrenia, though the precise implications of these differences are still being studied.

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Schizophrenia | Image: Pexels

Treatment

Schizophrenia is a complex disorder requiring a comprehensive treatment approach that typically includes medication, therapy, and support services.

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Antipsychotic medications are the cornerstone of schizophrenia treatment. These drugs help manage symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions, and thought disorders by altering the brain's chemical balance. Medications are often divided into first-generation (typical) and second-generation (atypical) antipsychotics, with the latter generally having fewer side effects.

Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) is commonly used to help individuals cope with symptoms and improve functioning. Family therapy can also be beneficial, providing education and support to both patients and their families.

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Comprehensive care often involves case management, social skills training, vocational rehabilitation, and housing support. These services aim to enhance the individual's ability to live independently and improve their quality of life.

Support groups and community programs play a vital role in providing a network for individuals with schizophrenia. These resources offer emotional support, practical advice, and a sense of belonging.

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Published May 24th, 2024 at 08:41 IST