the true risk behind the disease

A chronic and degenerative disease such as schizophrenia is the target of myths and lies as it is a mental disorder that plays with the perception of reality.

Dr. Gabriel Jiménez, second-year resident of the medical sciences campus.

The schizophrenia is a psychiatric condition that alters the perception of reality through fixed ideas that challenge external evidence (delusions), or the physical capture of sensations and non-real stimuli (hallucinations). Exclusively for the Journal of Medicine and Public Health, Dr. Gabriel Jiménez, a second-year resident of the medical sciences campus, explained that this disease is diagnosed through symptoms.

“Schizophrenia has a constellation of diagnostic criteria, including delusions and hallucinations, but disorganization of thoughts can occur that generally affect communication skills as there is little coherence in sentences, disorganized behavior that can affect social relationships.”

The symptoms of schizophrenia are clinically divided into 3: positive, negative and cognitive. Positive symptoms include delusions and hallucinations; negative symptoms, mood swings, lack of motivation and emotional blankness; Finally, cognitive symptoms have to do with the attention and concentration deficit, and memory problems.

There is no established regulation that relates the possibilities of suffering from the disease, with sex, that is, men and women can suffer it equally. Now, what is certain is that, in men, the aforementioned symptoms, also called positive symptoms, are more likely to appear in adolescence up to about 25 years of age, while in women the symptoms may appear from 20 to 30 years, approximately.

“The difference is more marked in the symptoms, since men have a prevalence of positive symptoms, such as hallucinations, delusions, etc. In women, the predominance is that of negative symptoms, such as alterations in mood, lack of motivation and emotional expressionlessness ”, added the specialist.

For the Puerto Rican media El Vocero, Dr. Robert Moran, a prominent psychiatrist in Florida, indicated that the Island has the highest incidence rate in schizophrenia compared to the United States.

The expert’s explanation agrees with the report published by the Behavioral Sciences Research Institute of the Medical Sciences Campus of the University of Puerto Rico (UPR), where it is specified that 7.3% of Puerto Rican adults between 18 and 64 years old suffers from a serious mental condition. The research adds that “23.7% combine some mental condition with drug and / or alcohol abuse.

There are several factors that can contribute to the appearance of the disease, such as genetic and environmental predisposition. However, it is important to take into consideration that the diagnosis is made through a clinical evaluation, in which the presence of psychotic characteristics that may be the result of conditions such as tumors, urinary infections, acute bleeding, etc., are ruled out.

Generally, the treatment for schizophrenia is multidisciplinary, that is, it requires psychiatric and psychological support, involving not only the patient, but also their family members and the people who are most important to them. Given this, the specialist assures that “psychotherapy is used to work on negative thoughts that prevent the patient from valuing himself. It is important to bear in mind that the disease has no cure, but the treatment allows to increase the functionality of the patient as a person ”.

The stigmas around schizophrenia

It is common that when we talk about schizophrenia we imagine an aggressive person, because over the years this negative behavior has been associated with the disease when, in reality, it is very rare. “Yes, there are pictures of aggressiveness because our patients are hearing voices that sometimes can give them orders repeatedly, which cause them anguish and they can become aggressive, but as a defense mechanism against the orders they receive.”

Dr. Jiménez assures that patients with schizophrenia are marginalized because they are considered a “different” population, compared to people who do not have a diagnosis. The concern that there are still stigmas towards these people is that they can generate a relapse and worsening of symptoms when feeling rejected socially, professionally, or academically. Given this, the professional highlights “as a society we have the duty and responsibility to educate ourselves to learn more about the condition and stop the stigmas that can put patients with schizophrenia at risk.”

It is important to go to a professional at the first signs of the disease

This condition causes a variety of physical and psychological impairments, similar to those caused by other types of disorders such as depression, bipolar disorder, and catatonia, so being able to receive treatment as soon as possible will allow for delay these consequences.

One of the most worrying risk factors is the indication of patients diagnosed with schizophrenia, since about 20% of this minority commit suicide when they do not receive adequate treatment, or when they do not receive the necessary medical attention. “The importance of receiving treatment at an early stage, that is, when the first symptoms appear, makes it possible to reduce dysfunction in patients’ lives and the deterioration that I mentioned earlier. Without the corresponding medication, the person can manifest symptoms similar to those of dementia and make them victims of attacks by other people towards them as a result of their untreated condition ”.

It is important that the patient with a positive diagnosis can lead a normal life to strengthen his self-esteem; to be able to get involved in tasks that are suitable for them without generating stress and giving them the opportunity to isolate themselves.

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