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This is a term paper on the experimental methods for treating Schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is derived from a Greek meaning “split mind”. Schizophrenia is a chronic, debilitating and severe brain disorder that affects about 1% of US adult population annually. It is one of the psychotic disorders and is one and a half times more prevalent in men than in women. The causes of Schizophrenia are not yet known but a combination of genetic, biological, environmental and psychological factors are believed to be involved. The symptoms characterizing Schizophrenia include: hallucinations, delusions, movement disorders, cognitive deficits, flat affect, disordered thinking, social withdrawal, disorganized behavior, and disorganized speech (National institute of mental health, 2010). Those suffering from this disorder tend to think weird things like; people are plotting to harm them. There are different types of Schizophrenia depending on the symptoms exhibited at the time of assessment. Paranoid Schizophrenia which is characterized by one or more delusions and hallucinations; Disorganized Schizophrenia which is characterized by disorganized speech and disorganized behavior; catatonic schizophrenia which is characterized by difficulty in movement, abnormal movement or repeating what others are saying; Undifferentiated schizophrenia which characterized by more than two delusions, hallucinations ,disorganized speech and catatonic symptoms; Residual schizophrenia which is characterized by social withdrawal, disinterest and not speaking ( MedicineNet, 2010). However this disorder is treatable upon being diagnosed by a psychiatrist. Since it cause is not known, its treatment is based on clinical research and experience. At the same time, self-care at home can be offered depending on the level of the disorder and family’s ability. Medical treatments include antipsychotic medications and psychosocial treatments. Antipsychotic medications used in the early times include; chlorpromazine, haloperidol, perphenazine, and fluphenazine. In addition, new and safer methods of treatment are being discovered in recent times. The term paper will outline and analyze the new and experimental treatments for schizophrenia.
The treatment of this disorder involves two stages; acute stage, when high doses are required to treat psychotic symptoms, and the maintenance stage, which is life-long. In the 1990’s the anti psychotic drugs invented and where properly used, neurological side effects like restlessness, Painful spasms, muscular rigidity and tremors reduced. However, they are not suitable for everyone. The first drug to be introduced was the clozaril. The drug has increased effectiveness but produce severe side effects like decrease in number of white blood cells (agranulocytosis) which fight infection. This necessitates patients to be monitored with blood test on weekly basis. Clozaril is however only recommended after at least two other atypical antibiotics fails. Other atypical antipsychotic drugs include Abilify, Geodon, Risperdal, Zyprexa, Invega, Saphris, and Seroquel. These new medications are more effective and better tolerated. They improve the social functioning of the patient and reduce the psychotic symptoms. But they do not cure schizophrenia or ensure no further psychotic episodes. There is a risk of a relapse of illness where antipsychotic drugs are taken irregularly or discontinued. They are however characterized by side effects like; drowsiness, tremors, dry mouth, restlessness, muscle spasm, constipation, low libido, skin rashes, weight gain, rapid heartbeat, sensitivity to the sun, menstrual problems for women and blurred vision (Helpguide, 2010). Life-long treatment with antipsychotic drugs can lead to recovery from schizophrenia although the long term side effects may cause tardive dyskinesia which characterized by involuntary movements of the mouth, lips, arms or legs. Nevertheless, the treatment from the newer antipsychotics is significantly advanced.
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Also included in the treatment are the psychosocial treatments. This is because the medication do not offer complete cure and hence the need to help the patients cope with their illness and become more independent. This treatment is also purposed to avoid relapse, treat apathy and enjoyment, and motivate the patient to continue with the medication. This involves illness management skills, integrated treatment for co-occurring substance abuse, rehabilitation, family education, cognitive behavior therapy, self-help groups and individual psychotherapy. In the illness management skills; the patient is educated on the symptoms, treatment options of schizophrenia, and the importance of medication. This makes the patient to take an active role in the treatment hence facilitating recovery. In the integrated treatment for co-occurring substance abuse; treatment programs are integrated with drug programs hence, perfect results are assured. In rehabilitation; the patient is trained, advised and supported to develop the skills necessary for a job. This makes the patients to think, remember and improve their functioning. In family education; the family members are educated abut schizophrenia to enable them handle the patients after discharge from hospital. In cognitive behavior therapy; this helps the patients who are not responding to medication in testing the reality of their thoughts. This reduces the risks of a relapse. In self-help groups; patients and their families form self-help groups where they encourage and comfort one another. It also removes isolation factor and draws attention to discrimination instigated on people with mental disorders. In individual psychotherapy,; patients hold scheduled meetings with the psychiatrist.
In addition to the new medications introduced, there have been experimental methods used for treating Schizophrenia. The four experimental methods of treating schizophrenia are; weekly treatments of carbon dioxide inhalations, biweekly shock treatment alternated with biweekly carbon dioxide inhalations, weekly shock treatments and tranquilizer drug treatment (Gibbons and Chakraborti, 2003). In one of the researches conducted in the University of California, forty seven male and fifty three females first admission patients in the middle section of the prognostic range and treatment was given under close supervision following the above experimental methods. A multi-disciplinary evaluation was carried out before and after treatment and a follow up of three years. Patients treated with drugs did tremendously well compared to those who only took electric shock treatments. Schizophrenia patients are hypersensitive to effects of inhaled carbon dioxide. When carbon dioxide is inhaled, it induces panic and the patient assumes normal attitude. No hallucinations or delusions were experienced and the patient recovered from schizophrenia after six months. A tranquilizer reduces anxiety, agitation and related disturbed mental states; major tranquilizers treat schizophrenia. Insulin shock treatment has been recommended for the treatment of schizophrenia. Insulin maintains equilibrium of glucose in the body. Lack of insulin causes diabetes while the excess of it leads to hypoglycemia which in turn leads to a coma (Sabbatini, 2003). During the coma, patients recovered their mental soberness; out of the 76 patients treated under this experiment, 56 recovered from schizophrenia (American journal of psychiatry, 1940).
There has also been an ongoing a research, Pitt research on a brain region, the orbitofrontal cortex. Orbitofrontal cortex is a brain portion that deals with cognitive abilities related to schizophrenia. Initial results of the Pitt experiment show that the orbitofrontal cortex may be a component in networks inhabited by schizophrenia (Vieru, 2008). This research may be of great significance to the treatment of schizophrenia once completed. However despite all these tested and verified treatment methods, research have shown that out of 100 schizophrenia patients: 20 patients will never have another acute attack; 50 patients will experience a relapse of symptoms within two years; 30 patients will never be free from the symptoms; 20 patients will remain resistant to treatment and constant support and supervision is therefore required (NHS, 2009). Of concern also is the medication offered to a pregnant woman. The medication should of significance to the woman and at the same time consider the health of the foetus. Hence the medication varies from person to person.
Schizophrenia is a severe mental disorder. It is categorized into five stages depending on the level of the disorder during its assessment. Although it is more prevalent in men, its effects in both men and women are disturbing. It is a complicated disorder in that its causes are not known and hence its prevention is not guaranteed. Clinical research and experienced has helped in treating this disorder and with time its medication has developed significantly. There are however variant methods of treating this disorder, schizophrenia; medication, experimental and psychosocial; methods. However in any case, medication must be used. Different treatments are applied to different patients depending on the stage of the disorder and the situation of the patient. The different treatments are also defined by a number of side effects; either short term or long term. In some cases patients don’t respond to medication and hence necessitating other treatments. A lot of patience is required in treating schizophrenia as some treatments may even take years to effectively yield some results. Family care and support is highly significant in the treatment of this disorder and continued medication is of essence. The symptoms of this disorder should be critically analyzed to avoid confusion with other diseases. However no delays should be executed to see a psychiatrist since early diagnosed schizophrenia is easy to treat. Although its mortality rate is not significant, its effects are disturbing and costly to the society as it withdraws happiness and comfort. Worth noting is that, although the new drugs are more effective than the older drugs, both have dire side effects. Patients should not worry about this disorder since upon diagnosis, treatment can be assured.
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