Monday, November 19, 2012

What is schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that makes it hard to:
  • Tell the difference between what is real and not real
  • Think clearly
  • Have normal emotional responses
  • Act normally in social situations

Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Schizophrenia affects both men and women equally. It usually begins in the teen years or young adulthood, but it may begin later in life. It tends to begin later in women, and is more mild.

Schizophrenia symptoms usually develop slowly over months or years. Sometimes you may have many symptoms, and at other times you may only have a few symptoms.

People with any type of schizophrenia may have trouble keeping friends and working. They may also have problems with anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts or behaviors.

At first, you may have the following symptoms:
  • Irritable or tense feeling
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Trouble sleeping

As the illness continues, you may have problems with thinking, emotions, and behavior, including:
  • Bizarre behaviors
  • Hearing or seeing things that are not there (hallucinations)
  • Isolation
  • Lack of emotion (flat affect)
  • Problems paying attention
  • Strongly held beliefs that are not real (delusions)
  • Thoughts that "jump" between different topics (“loose associations”)

Symptoms depend on the type of schizophrenia you have.

Paranoid schizophrenia symptoms may include:
  • Anxiety
  • Anger or arguing
  • False beliefs that others are trying to harm you or your loved ones

Disorganized schizophrenia symptoms may include:
  • Childlike behavior
  • Problems thinking and explaining your ideas clearly
  • Showing little emotion

During an episode of schizophrenia, you may need to stay in the hospital for safety reasons.

Antipsychotic medications are the most effective treatment for schizophrenia. They change the balance of chemicals in the brain and can help control symptoms.
These medications are usually helpful, but they can cause side effects. Many side effects can be managed, and they should not prevent you from seeking treatment for this serious condition.

Common side effects from antipsychotics may include:
  • Dizziness
  • Feelings of restlessness or "jitters"
  • Sleepiness (sedation)
  • Slowed movements
  • Tremor
  • Weight gain

Long-term use of antipsychotic medications may increase your risk for a movement disorder called tardive dyskinesia. This condition causes repeated movements that you cannot control, especially around the mouth. Call your health care provider right away if you think you may have this condition.

When schizophrenia does not improve with several antipsychotics, the medication clozapine can be helpful. Clozapine is the most effective medication for reducing schizophrenia symptoms, but it also tends to cause more side effects than other antipsychotics.

Schizophrenia is a life-long illness. Most people with this condition need to stay on antipsychotic medication for life.

Support Programs and Therapies
Supportive therapy may be helpful for many people with schizophrenia. Behavioral techniques, such as social skills training, can be used to improve social and work functioning. Job training and relationship-building classes are important.

Family members of a person with schizophrenia should be educated about the disease and offered support. Programs that offer outreach and community support services can help people who lack family and social support.

Family members and caregivers are often encouraged to help people with schizophrenia stay with their treatment.

It is important that the person with schizophrenia learns how to:
  • Take medications correctly and manage side effects
  • Notice the early signs of a relapse and what to do if symptoms return
  • Cope with symptoms that occur even while taking medication (a therapist can help)
  • Manage money
  • Use public transportation

Famous People and Schizophrenia 
There are relatively few famous people with schizophrenia because schizophrenia is a brain disorder that typically strikes people when they are quite young - age 17 to 28. People this age typically are too young to be famous, they are just starting out their professional lives after completing high school or college.

A recent Nobel Laureate in Economics, John Forbes Nash Jr., has a lifetime history of Schizophrenia but is now doing very well, as has been well documented in the book "A Beautiful Mind" and the academy award-winning movie of the same name.

Many "historical diagnoses" are frequently not entirely certain -- a "good guess" for schizophrenia includes Mary Todd Lincoln, wife of President Abraham Lincoln.

Following is a list of famous people who have been diagnosed with schizophrenia, or are highly suspected of suffering (or who had suffered) from schizophrenia.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Fun Facts About the Month of March

The name of March comes from ancient Rome, when March was the first month of the year and named Martius after Mars (Ares), the Greek god of war. In Rome, where the climate is Mediterranean, March was the first month of spring, a logical point for the beginning of the year as well as the start of the military campaign season. It’s one of seven months that is 31 days long.


Aquamarine - a gemstone was believed to protect sailors, as well as to guarantee a safe voyage. The serene color of aquamarine is said to cool the temper, allowing the wearer to remain calm and levelheaded.

Bloodstone - a dark-green jasper flecked with vivid red spots of iron oxide. This ancient stone was used by the Babylonians to make seals and amulets and was believed to have healing powers, especially for blood disorders. Sometimes called the martyr's stone as legend tells that it was created when drops of Christ's blood stained some jasper at the foot of the cross.

Birth flower: Daffodil - Cheerful yellow daffodils signal the end of winter cold and the return of warmer days. If you live in a moderate climate, daffodils are among the first flowers to bust into bloom every spring, making them a symbol of rebirth.

In the language of flowers, daffodils symbolize friendship, chivalry, respect, modesty and faithfulness. Apparently, the daffodil was originally called "affodell," a variant of asphodel. No one really knows why the letter "d" was added to the front of the name, but from at least the 1500s the flowers have been playfully known in literature as "Daffadown Dilly" or "daffadowndilly."
Daffodil is the common name for all members of the genus narcissus, and many people call daffodils narcissus. In North America, daffodils are also known as jonquils, the Spanish name for the flower. Daffodils range in size from 5-inch blooms on 2-foot stems to half-inch flowers on 2-inch stems and have a sweet fragrance.

March 1st: Ohio became 17th state (1803), Nebraska became 37th state (1867), Glenn Miller born (1904), Charles Lindbergh’s baby kidnapped (1932), President Kennedy established the Peace Corps (1961), 7 officials in the Nixon White House indicted for Watergate (1974)

March 2nd: Sam Houston born (1793), Texas declared independence from Mexico (1836)

March 3rd: Missouri Compromise passed (1820), Florida became 27th state (1845), Alexander Graham Bell born (1847)

March 4th: Vermont became 14th state (1791), President Franklin Roosevelt makes famous “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself” inaugural address (1933)

March 5th: Boston Massacre (1770), Joseph Stalin died (1953), Winston Churchill made “Iron Curtain” speech in Fulton, MO (1946)

March 6th: Michelangelo born (1475), Elizabeth Barrett Browning born (1806), Fort Alamo fell to Mexican troops (1836)

March 7th: Alexander Graham Bell patented the telephone (1876)

March 9th: Amerigo Vespucci born (1451), Yuri Gagarin born (1934)

March 10th: Salvation Army founded in the US (1880), Claire Booth Luce born (1903) 

March 12th: Juliette Low founded the Girl Scouts (1912)

March 14th: Albert Einstein born (1879)

March 15th: The Ides of March (Caesar’s assassination - 44 BC)

March 17th: St. Patrick’s Day

March 19th: Dr. David Livingstone born (1813), Wyatt Earp born (1848), William Jennings Bryan born (1860) 

March 20th: Henrik Ibsen born (1828)

March 21st: Johann Sebastian Bach born (1685)

March 22nd: The ERA was passed (1972)

March 23rd: Patrick Henry ignites American Revolution with his “give me liberty or give me death!” speech (1775)

March 24th: The Philippine Islands granted independence by President Franklin Roosevelt after almost 50 years of US control (1934), Harry Houdini born (1874), Exxon Valdez oil spill (1989)

March 26th: Tennessee Williams born (1911)

March 28th: Three Mile Island nuclear accident (1979) 

March 29th: The House Select Committee on Assassinations released final report on the murders of John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, and Martin Luther King (1979)

March 30th: Vincent Van Gogh born (1853), Ronald Reagan and James Brady shot (1981)

March 31st: Daylight Savings Time goes into effect in the US (1918)