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“Schizophrenia is the label given to a group of psychoses in which deterioration is marked by severe distortion of thought, perception and mood; by bizarre behavior; and by social withdrawal.” (Abnormal Psychology; text book, 9th ed., p. 390) Schizophrenia affects about one percent of the US population. There are currently about one million people with schizophrenia in the country. These people occupy approximately half of the hospital beds in mental hospitals. People with schizophrenia have a “Gross distortion of reality,” they may hear voices that other people do not hear, they withdraw from social interaction and they find people frightening, intimidating, dangerous. The way they view the world around them, is distorted, they may feel spiders and rats crawling on their body when there really are none. They may take a drink of water and to them it may taste absolutely awful when it is not. People with schizophrenia may believe that others are reading their minds and or controlling their thoughts. Schizophrenic psychotic symptoms like, delusions and hallucinations are usually spotted in men between their late teens and early twenty’s and in women in is most commonly seen between the mid-twenty’s to early thirty’s. Schizophrenia is rarely seen in anyone after the age of forty-five and even more scarce before puberty. However the disorder has been seen in children as young as five years of age. Some of the warning signs of this disorder at such a young age are having trouble sleeping, irritability, a sudden drop in academic performance and a sudden change in friends. Children who end up developing this disorder, as they get older is known as the “prodromal” period of schizophrenia. “Research has shown that schizophrenia affects men and women equally and occurs at similar rates in all ethnic groups around the world.” (Adams, 2007) Schizophrenic people have a few distinct characteristics. They have a disorganization of public functions, a disturbance of language and communication, the persons thoughts are disturbed and distorted, their perception of the world is distorted, their emotions and moods are affected, they are confused about themselves and their own identity, they have a hard time carrying out a course of action, the persons relationship to the external world is messed up and their motor behavior is distorted in some way. The most major characteristic of this disorder is the disturbance of language and communication. These distortions are not related to a lack of education, this person knows how to use language but isn’t making sense. They don’t follow the normal rules that govern language. These people may say things in a sort of rhyming scheme, which is referred to as clang association. Another unbelievable language phenomenon is nelogism, which is when the schizophrenic makes up words that have no meaning what so ever. And the thing you have to ask yourself is that do these speech patterns make sense to the person using them? And the answer to that is absolutely these patterns make sense to them. Another common language phenomenon found in schizophrenic patients is word salad, which is when the schizophrenic puts words together that are meaningless. Another common thing found in schizophrenic patients are thought insertion and thought broadcasting. Thought insertion is the idea that someone or something is inserting thought into their head. Thought broadcasting is the idea that your thoughts are being The Schizophrenic mind is one that is deeply distorted and disturbed. Schizophrenics have delusions, which are false beliefs that are not part of the persons culture, even after it has been proven that the beliefs are not true and or logical. These people can have delusions that can be quite out of the ordinary, such as believing that their neighbor is controlling their thoughts and or that a radio station or pretty much anything is broadcasting their thoughts aloud to others. These people also may believe that they are famous historical figures, its not out of the ordinary to find a schizophrenic person believing to be God himself. Some even believe that thoughts are being inserted into their heads by aliens or that some mysterious creature has stolen their thoughts. One scary aspect is that a schizophrenic person may believe that someone is out to kill them and rest assured that, that patient will find a way to kill that person before he/she Ones senses to perceive the world (perception) is usually thrown off by this disorder. Hallucinations are a big factor concerning this topic. “A hallucination is something a person sees, hears, smells, or feels that no one else can see, hear, smell, or feel. "Voices" are the most common type of hallucination in schizophrenia.” (Grohl, 2006) These voices may order the patient to do things or even warn them of upcoming danger. Auditory hallucinations are common but there are also visual hallucinations. These hallucinations include seeing people or objects that are not there and also feeling things like bugs crawling all over their body when really there is nothing there. Some phrases used by people who posses schizophrenia are, “I feel like I’m to alert…everything seems to come pouring in all at once…objects seem brighter…thoughts keep racing…everything is out of control.” These are all solid examples of delusions and Ones moods and emotions are definitely affected by this disorder. Emotional blunting (the slowing down), is mostly common in chronic cases of schizophrenia. Its been said that the longer you have this disorder, the more likely you are to never getting rid of it. People who acquire this disorder look as if they are in a zombie like mode, walking around with their arms swinging lifelessly by their side. They are also unresponsive to questions and any social interaction; their answers are short and inert. Schizophrenics are also confused about themselves and their own identity. They may feel that they are a famous historical figure. They talk about themselves as if they are the whole world. Schizophrenics as well have a hard time carrying out a course of action “People with schizophrenia attempt suicide much more often than people in the general population. About 10 percent (especially young adult males) succeed. It is hard to predict which people with schizophrenia are prone to suicide, so if someone talks about or tries to commit suicide, professional help should be sought right away.” (Adams, Treatment
Successful treatment of schizophrenia, depends solely upon a life-long regimen of both drug and psychosocial, support therapies. Medication does help control the psychosis part of the disorder, (Hallucinogens and delusions) but it cannot help the individual “find a job, learn to be effective in social relationships, increase the individuals copying skills, and help them learn to communicate and work well with others.” (Grohol, 2007) If the individual who is suffering from this disorder sticks to the treatment then that person may be able to live a profitable and joyful life. Initial recovery from schizophrenia is an intensely lonesome experience. Support from family, friends and communities are essential in the individuals coping with the onset of schizophrenia. With this support schizophrenic patients can learn to cope with their disability and live with it for the rest of their lives. In order to be able to cope with the disorder, which means that complying with the treatment plan is essential. If treatment is seized then that will more often then not lead to a relapse. The treatment process is a very important step in trying to harness Schizophrenia is a combination of not only thought disorder by mood and anxiety disorder. Schizophrenics are usually required to take a combination of different medications to reduce the affects, such as, antidepressant, antipsychotic and antianxiety medications. Probably the biggest problem with treatment is that many people who are diagnosed with this condition stop taking their medications prescribed to them. “After the first year of treatment, most people will discontinue their use of medications, especially ones where the side effects are difficult to tolerate.” (Grohol, 2007) The National Institute of Mental Health conducted a study, which indicated that in spite of the drug, only three- quarters of all patients stop taking their medication. The reasoning behind the discontinuation of their medications is either because the medicine did not make them feel better or that the side effects were just so unbearable that medication isn’t worth it. It is recommended that someone who has just been diagnosed with schizophrenia should start treatment with clozapine (clozaril, cheaper then most antipsychotic medications). This one medication has been show to be way more effective than newer more expensive antipsychotics. The purpose of antipsychotic medications is to help to “normalize the biochemical imbalance that cause schizophrenia.” (Grohol, 2007) This particular medication is also very important because it reduces the likelihood of a relapse. There are two types of antipsychotic medications, traditional and new antipsychotics. Traditional antipsychotics successfully manage the hallucinations, delusions and the confusion of the disorder. Examples of this type of antipsychotic are haloperidol, chlorpromazine, and fluphenazine, which have evidently been around since the early 1950s. These traditional drugs block the dopamine receptors and are mainly directed in treating the positive symptoms of this disorder. Some side effects may include dry mouth, blurred vision, drowsiness and dizziness. The upside to these medications is that the side effects usually fade away within a few weeks after the person has started treatment. But some more serious side effects include trouble with muscle control, muscle spasms or cramps in the head and neck, fidgeting or pacing, tremors and shuffling Since the 1990’s there have been some advances in antipsychotic medications, including Seroquel, Risperdal, Zyprexa and Clozaril. The good thing about these new advances in antipsychotic medications is that some may work on not only the dopamine receptors but the serotonin ones also, therefore treating both the positive and negative symptoms of schizophrenia. Even newer antipsychotics are known as atypical antipsychotics, mainly because how they affect the dopamine receptors in the brain. “These newer medications may be more effective in treating a broader range of symptoms of schizophrenia, and some have fewer side effects than traditional Is Schizophrenia linked to violence?
“Studies show that if people have no record of criminal violence before they develop schizophrenia and are not substance abusers, they are unlikely to commit crimes after they become ill.” (Adams, 2007) We know for a fact that substance abusers have an increase in violent behavior regardless if they have schizophrenia or not. Many people who use and abuse drugs may show very similar symptoms to those of a schizophrenic patient. Most researchers believe that substance abuse does not cause schizophrenia but people who have schizophrenia do abuse alcohol and or other drugs more so then the general population. “Stimulants (such as amphetamines or cocaine), PCP, and marijuana may make the symptoms of schizophrenia worse, and substance abuse also makes it more likely that patients will not follow their treatment plan.” (Schizophrenia Stigma and It is true that there are a few violent people who possess schizophrenia but these individuals only make up a very small percent of the populations mentally ill people. Schizophrenic people are typically non-violent people who never cause problems such as violence. Large population studies have been conducted and have concluded that the relationship between violence and mental illnesses at very best show a small relationship between the two. Even though there is a miniscule relationship between violence and mental illnesses, the bigger picture is the much larger relationship between substance abuse and violence. The chronically mentally ill have the reputation of being “problematically violent” but this stigma is exaggerated. One is more likely to be harmed by someone who is in a sense “normal” then someone who is mentally ill. One infamous example of a extremely violent schizophrenic person is David Berkowitz. David Berkowitz killed six people and wounded seven others in New York City in 1976 and 1977, and came to be known as "Son of Sam." “David’s neighbor's dog, a Labrador Retriever named Harvey, barked a lot, and it was driving Berkowitz crazy. The neighbor, Sam Carr, received an anonymous letter, asking him to stop the dog's incessant barking. When the barking continued, the killings began. According to Berkowitz, Harvey was a "demon dog", and when that dog barked it had meaning. Harvey, Berkowitz said, was barking out orders, telling him to murder young women. When police announced that several recent killings appeared to be the work of one crazed lunatic, the media went into a frenzy. For months, millions of New Yorkers eyed their neighbors with more suspicion than usual.” (Soylent, 2007) After several psychiatrists observed Berkowitz, the police released a psychological profile on him on May 26, 1977. The psychiatrists concluded that Berkowitz was neurotic and was probably suffering from Paranoid Schizophrenia and believing himself a victim of demonic possession. Even though information and research for schizophrenia has improved over the last 30 years there is still no cure. Effective treatments have been developed and many people who have schizophrenia who seek treatment have improved their lives to lead an independent and fulfilling life. “This is an exciting time for schizophrenia research. The explosion of knowledge in genetics, neuroscience, and behavioral research will enable a better understanding of the causes of the disorder, how to prevent it, and how to develop better treatments to allow those with schizophrenia to achieve their full potential.” Resources
Adams, Geoffrey K. December 17, 2007. Schizophrenia. NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health). Retrieved December 14, 2007 from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Alloy, b. Lauren & Manos, Margaret & Riskind H. John (March 2004) Abnormal Psychology: 9th Edition. Tata McGraw Hill: 9th Edition. Grohol, M. John. April 10, 2006. Schizophrenia Treatment Retrieved on December 15, 2007 from Psych Central. West, Vanessa. February 2, 2007. David Berkoqwitz. Retrieved December 14, 2007. February 14, 2006. Schizophrenia Stigma and Violence. Retrieved on December 15, 2007.


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