Patient Education regarding Schizophrenia Diagnosis
Explain the diagnosis of schizophrenia to a patient in pieces patients are able to understand:
Addressing: neurobiology of disorder, brief explanation of potential contributing factors (genetics, environment, and situation),
Discussing key neurotransmitters involved and any brain structure changes that may be present
REMEMBER these patients have little to no medical knowledge so explanation should be simplified
Explain the diagnosis of schizophrenia to a patient in pieces’ patients are able to understand
Schizophrenia is a mental illness where the affected patient experiences challenge distinguishing between reality and imagination. People with this condition lose touch with what is real in their environment. To determine if a person has this condition, care providers carry out several assessments. The initial assessment involves identifying the three main symptoms associated with schizophrenia. They include hallucinations: hearing, seeing, smelling, and feeling things that are not real. Delusions; are characterized by having strange beliefs and convictions that are not true, such as one can see or hear the devil: disorganized speech and thoughts, people with schizophrenia exhibit incoherent speech and disorganized ideas in their speech. The symptoms need to have existed for at least one month to consider the diagnosis (De Pablo et al., 2020).
The disease is associated with imbalances of chemicals in the brain, which affect the communication between different brain cells/neurons. Dopamine and serotonin are the two main brain chemicals that have been shown to contribute to schizophrenia. Increased production or decreased production of these chemicals affects how information is transmitted and processed in the brain, leading to schizophrenia symptoms. For example, the hallucination and delusions observed are due to the increased dopamine release in the brain’s subcortical region, causing increased receptor activation. Patients with schizophrenia have also been shown to have abnormalities in their brain structures, including lower gray matter volumes in some parts of the brain, such as the prefrontal and temporal regions. They also have smaller intracranial spaces, hippocampus, and nucleus accumbens. The presence of these observations during the examination can be used to determine a schizophrenia diagnosis (De Boer et al., 2020).
Other factors that are considered during diagnosis include the family history of the patients; patients who come from a family where other members have ever been diagnosed with schizophrenia are likely to develop the illnesses. Stress and drug abuse can also contribute to the development of schizophrenia. While the two do not directly cause schizophrenia, they can cause chemical imbalances in susceptible individuals leading to the development of the condition (Zamanpoor, 2020).
De Boer, J. N., Van Hoogdalem, M., Mandl, R. C. W., Brummelman, J., Voppel, A. E., Begemann, M. J. H., … & Sommer, I. E. C. (2020). Language in schizophrenia: relation with diagnosis, symptomatology and white matter tracts. NPJ schizophrenia, 6(1), 1-10. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41537-020-0099-3
De Pablo, G. S., Catalan, A., & Fusar-Poli, P. (2020). Clinical validity of DSM-5 attenuated psychosis syndrome: advances in diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment. JAMA psychiatry, 77(3), 311-320. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapsychiatry/article-abstract/2755320
Zamanpoor, M. (2020). Schizophrenia in a genomic era: a review from the pathogenesis, genetic and environmental etiology to diagnosis and treatment insights. Psychiatric Genetics, 30(1), 1-9. https://journals.lww.com/psychgenetics/Abstract/2020/02000/Schizophrenia_in_a_genomic_era__a_revie