The Unmet Medical Needs within Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is a long-term mental health condition, affecting 1 in 100 people, which is commonly characterised by a number of psychological symptoms. These can include positive symptoms primarily related to schizophrenics, such as hallucinations, delusions and erratic behaviour, or negative symptoms caused as a result of insufficient normal emotional responses, such as disorganised thought processes or an inability to experience pleasure.
Men and women are equally affected, with the most common diagnosis rate between the 15 – 35 year age brackets.Therefore, due to the symptom onset typically occurring at a younger age, this demonstrates the fundamental importance for earlier diagnosis, prior to further symptom development and the progression of additional major conditions, such as clinical depression and anxiety disorders.
Many schizophrenics also suffer from paranoia, due to a heightened awareness of oppression from outside sources, and are often found to be withdrawn, occasionally with a rigid, abnormal posture. Additionally, many doctors often describe schizophrenia as a psychotic disorder due to the inability of sufferers to distinguish their own thoughts and ideas from reality. This, combined with the fact that the Greek derivation of schizophrenia translates to mean ‘split mind’, consequently led to many theorising that sufferers possessed some form of ‘split-personality’. However, this public misconception, as well as the misconception for sufferers inducing violent outbursts, has since been disproved.
A number of the detrimental symptoms, associated with a reduced quality of life, have been effectively managed through the use of anti-psychotic drugs, such as chlorpromazine, although major issues still arise due to the harmful side effects that can be caused. This knowledge has acted as the trigger for further research into treatments against schizophrenia, primarily focused upon different areas of the affiliated pathophysiology.
A number of distinct unmet medical needs still exist within schizophrenia, but conceivably the major example of these suggests a correspondence to the lack of practical and available treatments focused on reducing the associated negative symptoms, rather than the positive symptoms. On the other hand, current research into a number of anti-inflammatory agents and potassium channel mediators is showing a lot of promise and, therefore, further research and appropriate drug designs should maintain dedication within these areas.
Schizophrenia has the potential to be a highly manageable disorder, but is highly dependent on the fulfilment of these key unmet medical needs. Nonetheless, studies into the condition are currently showing signs of heading in the right direction so, hopefully before too long, sustainable treatment agents able to counteract all forms of schizophrenic-associated symptoms will be readily available for sufferers.
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