Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a challenging mental illness that inhibits or distorts the way a person thinks, feels and behaves. Typical signs include hallucinations, impaired self-other distinctions, delusions, emotional flattening and withdrawal into one's own world.

Overview

Schizophrenia is a challenging mental illness that inhibits or distorts the way a person thinks, feels and behaves. Typical signs include hallucinations, impaired self-other distinctions, delusions, emotional flattening and withdrawal into one's own world. It is caused by an interplay of social, mental, biological and other factors. It is important to get help.

Symptoms

Positive symptoms

(= productive symptoms, “exaggeration” of normal factors)

  • Hallucinations: mainly Hearing voices
  • Distorted thought processes
    • Inhibited, slowed down
    • Distracted
    • Thoughts going round and round in the head, brooding
  • Delusional misinterpretation of experiences
  • Disorders of the self (impaired self-other distinction)
    • Patients feel estranged from their own being
    • Believe their thoughts and feelings are determined by others
    • Believe their thoughts are being “listened to” or stolen

Negative symptoms

(= unproductive symptoms, “taking away” from normal factors)

Social and emotional withdrawal into one's own world

  • Patient doesn’t understand their environment, communication becomes difficult
  • Emotional flattening
  • Blocked decision-making process, ambivalence
  • Loss of motivation
  • Motor disturbances
    • Reduced movement
    • Reduced mimicry and gestures

Causes and treatment

Cause

  • The exact mechanisms and causes aren't known
  • Coincidence of several causes is suspected
Factors
  • Genetic factors (family predisposition)
  • Anatomical: change in brain structure
  • Neurotransmitter dysfunction (chemical messengers in the brain)
  • Psychological and social factors
  • Use of drugs (e.g. cannabis)

Further treatment by your doctor / in hospital

Possible tests
  • Conversation
  • Exclusion of a physical psychosis
    • Blood test
    • Physical examination
    • CT scan or MRI of the brain
Possible therapies
  • Psychotherapeutic counselling
  • Social measures
    • Support
    • Professional reintegration
    • Employment
  • Medication, effect

What can I do myself?

  • Self-help group (sufferers and families)
  • Don’t use drugs
  • Don't become completely withdrawn
  • Family members play an important supporting role
    • Make sure that medication is taken regularly, if necessary
    • Social integration/structure
    • Recognise a new episode (after training), involve doctor in good time

When to see a doctor?

  • Feeling that “something is wrong”
  • Hearing voices in your head
  • Delusions of persecution
  • Thinking problems
  • Emotional flattening
  • Social problems
  • Withdrawal behaviour
  • Renewed episode if schizophrenia has been diagnosed
  • Failure to accept something is wrong despite presence of symptoms: family members should contact a specialist

Further information

Selbsthilfe Schweiz (Self-Help Support Switzerland)
www.selbsthilfeschweiz.ch

"Leben mit Schizophrenie": Informationsplattform für Angehörige und Bezugspersonen (“Living with schizophrenia”: information platform for relatives and caregivers)
www.lebenmitschizophrenie.ch

Synonyms

schizophrenia

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CSS offers no guarantee for the accuracy and completeness of the information. The information published is no substitute for professional advice from a doctor or pharmacist.

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