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World Schizophrenia Day 2019: Decoding hallucination and delusion

Petition demands inclusion of mental illness in vaccine comorbidity list. © Shutterstock

World Schizophrenia Day is celebrated on 24th May every year. While observing this day today, we shed light on the two most prominent symptoms of schizophrenia (hallucination and delusion) while giving you a low-down on the condition.

Written by Editorial Team |Published : May 24, 2019 10:32 AM IST

According to a 2018 report by the World Health Organization (WHO), over 21 million people across the globe are affected with schizophrenia, a brain disorder. The world body also noted that people living with this condition are 2-3 times more likely to die early as compared to the general population. Schizophrenia is a largely misunderstood condition in which patients often face discrimination and violation of human rights. In order to help those with schizophrenia and spread awareness about this psychological disorder, Helping Minds, a non-profit organization, initiated the first Schizophrenia Awareness Week way back in 1986. Starting from 20th May of every year, a whole week is being dedicated to this global campaign since then. World Schizophrenia Day, which is celebrated on 24th of May is part of this initiative.

WHAT IS SCHIZOPHRENIA?

Schizophrenia is a disorder that affects the way you think, act, perceive and express your emotions. It is a disease that one has to live with, throughout the life. However, the manifestations can be managed with proper care and treatment. Quite often, we mistake this mental health condition for multiple personality disorder, also known as dissociative identity disorder. However, they are two different conditions with varying characteristics and treatment options. On this world Schizophrenia Day, we give you a low-down on the condition.

The common symptoms a schizophrenic person is likely to experience on a daily basis include hallucination, delusion, bizarre behaviour and disorganized speech. Genetic predisposition, severe viral infections and exposure to environmental toxins like lead are considered to be the culprits behind schizophrenia.

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Since there are no laboratory-based tests available to identify this mental health disorder, you doctor may rely on your symptoms and family history for the diagnosis. Apart from these, certain blood tests and brain imaging studies can also be performed to rule out the onset of substance-induced psychosis. After assessing your condition, your psychiatrist will prescribe medications like chlorpromazine, loxapine and haloperidol among others. The medicines can be accompanied by psychological therapy where a counsellor guides the patient on managing the symptoms. The therapy is categorised in three types:

  • Individual psychotherapy: In this therapy, the patient is taught to deal with his thoughts and behaviour.
  • Cognitive behavior therapy: Here, the therapist teaches the patient to deal with delusions and hallucinations. He is also taught to identify the triggers behind his psychotic episode.
  • Cognitive enhancement therapy: Using a computer-based brain training programmne, a therapist helps a schizophrenic person to enhance his ability to catch social cues and organize his thoughts.

In rare but extreme cases, a psychologist may also recommend electroconvulsive therapy or electric shock. In this therapy, electrodes are attached to the patient s scalp after administering general anesthesia.

HALLUCINATION VS. DELUSION

Hallucination and delusion are the two most common symptoms of schizophrenia. Hallucination is a condition where a schizophrenia patient sees, hears, feels and touches things which are not real. In case of delusion, the patient has strong convictions in things which are not real. The belief is so strong that it doesn't change even after seeing contradictory evidences. On this World Schizophrenia Day, we shed light on the different types of hallucination and delusion that a patient living with this mental health condition may experience.

TYPES OF HALLUCINATION

There are various types of hallucination that a schizophrenic patient might go through. These can be visual, auditory, sense-based and tactile.

Auditory hallucinations

It is one of the most common forms of hallucination people suffering from schizophrenia experience. They hear voices from one or multiple speakers. which could be loud or soft as well. These voices sometimes are sometimes demand and commanding as well.

Visual hallucinations

As the name suggests, in this type of hallucination, the patient is likely to see objects, patterns or people who are actually not there. Usually, people with schizophrenia tend to imagine their loved ones, friends or other people they know to be present in front of them.

Olfactory hallucinations

A person with schizophrenia may feel that there is a smell in the space he or she is present in. This is known as olfactory hallucination.

Tactile hallucination

If you are suffering from schizophrenia, you may believe that an insect or someone s hand is crawling over your body.

TYPES OF DELUSION

Delusion is another prominent symptom of schizophrenia. The feelings, however, may vary from person to person. While some may believe that a conspiracy is going on to kill them, others may feel that they are suffering from a serious health condition.

Persecutory delusion

In this type, the patient believes that a group, person or organisation is either mistreating him or trying to harm her.

Erotomanic delusion

A schizophrenic patient may believe that another person has feelings for her. Usually, the person who is imagined to have feelings is a celebrity.

Somatic delusion

If someone is suffering from schizophrenia, she is more likely to believe that she has been diagnosed with a fatal disease, even when the medical reports don't say so.

Grandiose delusion

This type of delusion makes the schizophrenic patient believe that he is born with extraordinary abilities or qualities. For example, a person with this mental health disorder may feel that he has made a ground-breaking discovery while the reality is different.

HELPING YOUR LOVED ONES

Since this disease impairs the patient s ability to function daily tasks, he is most likely to need help with his daily chores. As a caregiver, you need to stay calm while helping a schizophrenic patient. Do not focus on his hallucinations and delusions. You need to be encouraging and patient with your loved one if he or she is suffering from this condition.

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