Mental health

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mental health

Most people are mentally healthy. They have no severe trouble being able to deal with normal life issues such as relationships, jobs, family and friends. However, there are those who simply cannot deal with these common matters on a day-to-day basis without the need to have assistances in the form of therapy or medication. These people are considered to be suffering from some type of mental illness and are not mentally healthy. Mental illnesses are diagnosable disorders of the brain. (Myers, 2002) They may stem from many different things such as problems with family members, or the guilt and shame over something from their past. (Austrian, 1995)

     Mental illnesses are diagnosed by administering a clinical assessment. It is used to evaluate a person's biological, mental and social well being.(Potnik, 1999) Once a mental illness has been established it is treated by psychiatrist. Psychiatrists are doctors who are trained to treat people with mental illnesses. Social workers also provide care for the mentally ill. They work in hospitals and schools.

One of the most terrible mental illnesses that many suffer from today is schizophrenia. People suffering from schizophrenia occupy about one-third of all beds in psychiatric hospitals in the United States.( The National Institute of Mental Health has estimated that schizophrenia costs the United States tens of billons of dollars each year in direct treatment, social services and lost productivity.(

Schizophrenia is a severe mental disorder. It was first identified by German psychiatrist, Emil Kraepelin in the 19th century. At the time, Kraepelin labeled it Dementia Praecox. (Schumaker, Ward 2001) It is estimated that schizophrenia affects about 1.8 million people in the United States. It is characterized by an array of symptoms including; delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech, bizarre behavior and decreased emotional expressiveness and social withdrawal. (Harvey, Keefe, 1994)

The symptoms are put into two categories: negative and positive symptoms. Positive symptoms include teh occurrence of irregular experiences such as hallucinations or delusional beliefs. Positive symptoms also involve thought instability and distortions of words. Negative symptoms refer to the lack of generally expected behavior such as, social withdrawal and lack of proper speech. Hallucinations and delusions are the two most serious symptoms. Hallucinations are false perceptions. Delusions are false beliefs. (Harvey, Keefe,1994) They are constant and unusual. People who have delusions deny facts that go against their delusions even though thier beliefs are often untrue and impossible. The diagnosis of schizophrenia requires that continous symptoms of the disorder be present for at least six months. (Crow, 1980)

Schizophrenia is a crippling disorder. It can cause a person to have trouble separating real from false experiences. It also impairs their ability to have a job, go to school, be in a relationship or even take care of themselves. About ten percent of people with schizophrenia commit suicide.( Once a person develops this disease they usually suffer from it for the rest of their lives. This disorder has not bias it can happen to anyone of any sex or race. It usually begins during the last stages of adolescence or early childhood. It can develop over months or years.

Schizophrenia is not just caused by one factor. Many scientist believe its caused by brain structural adnormalities, an imbalance of chemicals in the brain, genetics and the prenatal environment. People diagnosised with this illness have shown a number of biological abnormalites. They have abnormally proportioned brain matter and abnormal brain chemistry.( Harvey, Keefe, 1994.) Another factor is chemical imbalance in the brain. Some scientists believe the source is the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine influences movement,learning and attention. ( Myers,2002) They believe that schizophrenia may result from excess activity of dopamine. Evidence in support of this comes from antipsychotic drugs. Antipsychotic drugs reduce or emilinate psychotic symptoms like hallucinations and delustions. They block the brain receptors for dopamine. However, for the most part while many doctors think this is a diffinite factor, they do not believe that an excess of dopamine alone causes schizophrenia. (

We must not forget another crucial factor of schizophrenia, genetics! There is research that suggests genetics is by far the most influenced factor for developing this disorder. There are three major approaches to the study of heritability for schizophrenia; the corcordance, adoptive, and high-risk approach. The corcordance approach compares the rate of schizophrenia across groups that differ in terms or their biological relatedness( Hollandsworth, 1990) This approach helps us to understand that the risk of schizophrenia is higher for children with a schizophrenic parent. Its 46% higher when both parents have the disorder(Hollandsworth, 1990) The adoptive approach conlcudes that adoptive children who develop schizophrenia had biological relatives with the disorder.(Hollandsworth, 1990) The high-risk approach involves indentitifying individuals at high risk( such as children of schizophrenic parents) and following them for a number of years. They found that in most cases the children had indeed developed the full symptoms of schizophrenia. (Hollandsworth, 1990)
An additional factor in developing schizophrenia is events that occur during the prenatal period. For instance, pregnant wowen who have been exposed to influenza or have poor nutrition can slightly increase the risk of thier child developing schizophrenia later in life.
Now its been established what schizophrenia is and what the risks are for developing the disorder.

There are five types of schizophrenia. Each type is based on its prognosis and its response to treatment. The five types are catatonic, disorganized, paraniod, unidifferentiated and residual.
Catatonic has symptoms of psyomotor disturbance that can involve stupor, rigidity, excitement or posturing. It is less common today than a few years ago.(Hollandsworth,1990)
Disorganized is characterized by incoherence and grossly disorganized behavior. Delusions are common but lack a coherent theme. (Hollandsworth,1990) Paranoid involves preoccupation with one or more systematized delustions or auditory hallucinations related to a single theme. ( Hollandsworth, 1990) The most common type is undifferentiated. It s a frequent diagnosis for long-term residents in mental hostpitals. The main feature for undifferentiated is the presence of psychotic symptoms like delustions or incohernce that cannot be classified as one of the other three. Residual is diagnosised when there has been at least one epitsode of schizophrenic symptoms but no prmienent psychotic features even though signs of the disorder persist. (Hollandsworth, 1990)
Now although there are different types of schizophrenia there are but few treatments.

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