What is schizophrenia? It’s a lifelong mental illness that affects the ability to tell the difference between fiction and what’s real. It also affects the social behavior of those who suffer from it.
Schizophrenia is a mental illness that has no preferences. It can strike people from all nations, cultures, races, social classes and genders. Today, according to experts, about 51 million people suffer from schizophrenia in total worldwide.
This mental illness is more involved than most people realize. There are actually five different types of schizophrenia:
Symptoms & Signs
For those suffering from schizophrenia, symptoms often reveal themselves during the ages of 16 to 25. Some males show signs of having the mental illness even earlier. These are just some of the symptoms of schizophrenia. Please keep in mind that having one symptom does not necessarily mean you have the disease.
Those with the schizophrenia frequently suffer from:
- Disorganized behavior
- Disorganized speech
- Lack of inhibition
- Poor hygiene
- Social withdrawal
- Problems paying attention
- Problems with memory
- Problems with socialization
There isn’t a clear link to what causes schizophrenia. In fact, different studies will point to different causes. But, most experts believe that the mental illness is caused by both the environment and genetics. When damaged, several genes have been known to raise the risk of a person developing it. However, scientists say they expect to find others.
For instance, some doctors suggest that the heavy use of cannabis in the teenage or young adult years leads to the disease. Others say cannabis therapy can help soothe the symptoms of the disorder.
These are some of the other risk factors that may lead to schizophrenia:
- Pre-birth exposure to viral infections or malnutrition
- Issues with certain neurotransmitters or brain chemicals (glutamate and dopamine)
- Other factors which interrupt the development of the brain
To be diagnosed as schizophrenic, the symptoms must be examined by a professional. Then, all other possible causes for those symptoms must be first ruled out.
When treating schizophrenia with traditional methods, antipsychotic medications are prescribed. These are said to help treat depression and anxiety. Specialists, such as therapists, suggest combining this with group therapy. Either way, schizophrenia is a lifelong mental disorder. Therefore, treatment for schizophrenia is also lifelong.
Because most schizophrenic people don’t think rationally, it can be very hard to keep them on their meds. Many turn to self-medication methods just to cope. Often, if left untreated, schizophrenia can lead to suicide. So, ignoring the problem is never an option.
Does Using Cannabis Increase Risks of Becoming Schizophrenic?
Many doctors believe there is a link between marijuana and schizophrenia, but what exactly is the connection? J. Clin Psychiatry conducted a study to examine the possible effects of cannabis on schizophrenia. This study is a response to more and more American states and foreign countries legalizing cannabis.
Researchers found that there was an increase in the risk of developing schizophrenia in those who are young, as well as vulnerable to psychosis development. In other words, if a person isn’t already at risk of becoming psychotic, based on environmental and genetic issues, the risk of becoming schizophrenic is very low.
Study on Schizophrenia in Both Cannabis Users & Non-Users
Another study by Psychol Med studied the prognosis of the mental illness on those with a history of using marijuana and those without. During the study, scientists were trying to find out whether or not schizophrenia patients who use marijuana have different prognoses that those who don’t. They used hospital duration and readmission to help come up with their facts.
50,087 Swedish men between 18-20 years of age with history of cannabis use were studied during the research
357 schizophrenia cases were identified during the in-patient care study (1973-2007)
Those with Cannabis Use History
Schizophrenia patients with a history of using cannabis had higher median durations of the first episode at hospital. This was about 59 days, compared to non-users at 30 days. These patients also had higher readmission median rates. They were readmitted 10 times, versus four times.
The total number of days these patients remained in hospitals was also higher at 547 days, versus 184 days. However, patients who had cannabis use history were less likely to develop paranoid schizophrenia. They had an 8% chance. Those who have never used cannabis say a 17% chance of becoming paranoid schizophrenic.
The mystery continues
As the medical community continues their research, the relationship between cannabis and schizophrenia is one many are expected to explore. Although the most recent studies suggest that marijuana does not cause schizophrenia, its effect on those prone to the disorder is still hard to decipher.