Schizophrenia and Orthomolecular Medicine

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For 30 years the Canadian Schizophrenia Foundation has provided vital information, support and hope for effectively treating schizophrenia and related disorders.

What is Schizophrenia? Schizophrenia is not a split personality. It refers to a group of biochemical diseases which can affect a person physically, mentally and emotionally. Schizophrenia can change the way a person hears, sees, tastes, thinks and feels. Some studies have shown that the predisposition to schizophrenia is inherited. It affects one to three percent of the population and strikes mainly young people in all walks of life.

What Causes Schizophrenia? Some professionals blame fathers, mothers, society or environment. However, scientific evidence indicates that schizophrenia is caused by errors in body chemistry.

What are the Danger Signals? Schizophrenia can have symptoms which are similar to other illnesses and disorders. It is therefore necessary to see a competent physician if schizophrenia is suspected. The following are some of the most common complaints that persons with schizophrenia have:

Extreme fatigue and feeling of weakness

Difficulty in concentrating and getting organized

Loss of interest, withdrawal

Depression unrelated to life circumstances

Vague fears and anxieties

Changes in sight, hearing, touch, taste or smell

Change in character or behaviour

Headaches

Insomnia

How is it Diagnosed? There is a great difference of opinion as to what constitutes schizophrenia and considerable variety in its diagnosis. Persons with schizophrenia or their relatives are often told the patient is emotionally disturbed, has had a nervous breakdown, has an immature personality, or is retarded. Unfortunately, no matter what terms are used, the majority do not get well on conventional treatments.

The principal method used in diagnosing is clinical observation by the doctor. Avery useful psychological test, the Hoffer-Osmond Diagnostic Test, which can be administered easily and quickly, has been developed to help in diagnosis.

How is Schizophrenia Treated? If left untreated, there is a natural recovery rate of about 35%. The usual forms of treatment are tranquilizers, psychotherapy or electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). There are many schools of thought and many opinions regarding the treatment of schizophrenia. It has been shown, however, that psychotherapy alone is not an effective treatment. ECT and tranquilizers may be useful as part of a good treatment program but cannot produce lasting benefits alone.

Orthomolecular treatment is reported to be effective in 80% or more of the cases and is the best treatment developed so far. This treatment usually includes a special diet, vitamins and minerals in accordance with the individual needs of the patient, and other therapeutic aids such as tranquilizers, supportive psychotherapy, and other treatments which the doctor thinks will be useful. Many persons with schizophrenia have low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and allergies which are treated.

How Does Schizophrenia Affect Society? Schizophrenia is a frightening disease which can bring about a great deal of suffering to the patients and the family and severe problems to society. Schizophrenia is an important factor in social aid and welfare costs, health care costs, employment inefficiency, impaired learning ability, alcoholism, broken homes and suicide. The average person with schizophrenia will cost one to two million dollars to society, directly and indirectly, in his/her lifetime.

What Can be Done to Control Schizophrenia? Schizophrenia will only be conquered with effective diagnosis and treatment. The aim of the Canadian Schizophrenia Foundation is to conquer schizophrenia by:

Informing the public about schizophrenia, its danger signals and what can be done about it.

Helping the person with schizophrenia and the family to learn how to deal with this illness.

Ensuring that effective diagnostic and treatment methods are instituted, and that people with schizophrenia are given a better chance of getting well than they have at present.

Promoting research.

Improving mental hospitals and treatment centres.

Orthomolecular Treatment

What is it? Orthomolecular treatment is defined as providing the brain and the body with the best possible biochemical environment, especially with those substances normally found in the body such as vitamins, minerals, amino acids and other essential molecules.

What are the Principal Components of the Treatment? Vitamins and minerals are administered according to the individual needs of patients. A good diet is considered to be an important part of the therapy. Treatment for such disorders as low blood sugar, allergies, and thyroid problems are included when necessary. Sometimes tranquilizers are used for brief periods, and other treatments and supportive therapy are included.

For Which Disorders is it Used? The orthomolecular treatment can be used for a wide variety of disorders such as schizophrenia and other mental illnesses, behaviour and learning disorders in children, problems of aging, alcoholism and addiction, arthritis, heart and circulatory problems and many other diseases.

How Can a Person Receive Orthomolecular Therapy? A physician should be consulted for all medical problems. The vitamin dosages and diet and other therapies should be regulated to suit the needs of the individual patient. If the physician is not familiar with the therapy, he can consult other physicians who are. In addition, the CSF can provide literature. Manuals for physicians are available, as well as a wealth of publications.

Are there any Adverse Effects? The orthomolecular treatment is generally a very safe one. A small percentage of people experience some discomfort when taking vitamins, but the doctor can prescribe other forms of these vitamins or adjust the dose.

How Effective is Orthomolecular Treatment? In the treatment of schizophrenia, the American Schizophrenia Association Committee on Therapy reported 80% recoveries based on a follow-up of 1,500 patients. Other physicians report a recovery rate of more than 75% and considerably higher in children. The orthomolecular treatment has been found to be highly effective in treating many other disorders including depression, behaviour and learning problems in children, alcoholism and problems associated with aging.

For additional information: www.orthomed.org

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