CBD for Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is a rare and serious chronic disorder in which the brain has trouble distinguishing fantasy from reality. In recent years, the portrayal of schizophrenia in popular media has clouded the condition with a negative stigma—but the condition is often misunderstood.
Schizophrenia is sometimes confused with split personality disorder—or dissociative identity disorder (formerly known as multiple personality disorder). However, it’s characterized by entirely different symptoms. While those with schizophrenia experience vivid hallucinations and mental confusion, many with the condition follow an effective treatment regimen that minimizes or eliminates violent episodes and allows them to perform as high-functioning individuals.
During an episode of psychosis—another term for the condition where thoughts and emotions are impaired due to a mental disorder—symptoms can include:
- Hallucinatory visions
- Incoherent speech
- Emotional numbness
- Uncontrollable movements
- Impaired cognition
- Memory loss
- Disordered thoughts
For many with schizophrenia, the severity of the condition lessens with age as individuals are better able to manage symptoms.
There are four main types of schizophrenia, including:
Paranoid schizophrenia. Individuals in this category have paranoid tendencies, and generally exhibit eccentric behavior, feel connected to larger world events, and have an inappropriate or apathetic emotional response.
Catatonic schizophrenia. When schizophrenics are catatonic, their symptoms appear in a more physical way—almost like paralysis. They are unable to move, speak, show emotion, or act on motivation.
Undifferentiated schizophrenia. This type of schizophrenia is more subdued and is an amalgamation of several different symptoms. Individuals may be mildly paranoid or confused, and overall devoid of emotional responses.
Schizoaffective disorder. Characterized by intense delusions, people with schizoaffective disorder often exhibit of mood disorders such as depression or mania.
Scientists attribute various factors to the appearance of schizophrenia, including:
Genetics. There is no single identified gene that seems to signal schizophrenia, but the expression of the gene cannot yet be predicted or singled out. Some experts believe that if people are genetically predisposed to schizophrenia, the disorder can be triggered by a particular episode of stress or trauma.
Environmental factors. Genetic mutations resulting from environmental conditions are another possible cause of schizophrenia. These include birth complications or malnutrition, or viruses.
Brain chemistry. Some researchers believe that imbalances in the neurotransmitters dopamine and glutamate—which allow the brain to communicate with other parts of the body and express emotion—can cause schizophrenia.
Schizophrenia is manageable with a strict regimen of lifelong medications—the majority of which are antipsychotics that help to regulate dopamine levels in the brain. Medications include:
Second-generation antipsychotics (SGAs). This class of medications is considered the front line defense, offering a lower dosage and fewer side effects than other options. Quetiapine, Risperidone, and Aripiprazole are just a few of these medications. If treatment via SGAs fails, doctors will then prescribe a more intense pharmaceutical.
First-generation antipsychotics (FGAs). First-generation antipsychotics are usually only given if treatment with SGAs is unsuccessful. FGAs are considered a risky treatment because of their often severe side effects—they can lead to often permanent movement disorders like tardive dyskinesia. Examples of these medications include Chlorpromazine, Fluphenazine, Haloperidol, and Perphenazine.
Many schizophrenia patients are in denial, reluctant, or unwilling to take their medications. Non-pharmacological treatments can help keep patients stable during times when they are not taking medications regularly. Some of these therapies and treatments also increase individuals’ motivation to adhere to medications. These can include:
Psychotherapy. Continued therapy can help people living with schizophrenia recognize damaging thought patterns, better cope with stress, and sense when psychotic episodes are coming on.
Communication and social skills training. Those with schizophrenia may lose or be unable to comprehend social skills, empathy, and communication. Improving these skills can help individuals better function as a member of society.
Vocational training or rehabilitation. There are options to help people with schizophrenia better prepare for and find jobs. Some communities even have programs in place to house, help, and hire schizophrenia patients.
Cannabidiol (CBD) CBD is a compound that comes from the cannabis plant, and it is thought to have antipsychotic properties. It’s non-psychoactive, meaning CBD doesn’t impair or interfere with the brain. Researchers are continuously studying the ways that it can lessen symptoms of psychosis—one recent study even found CBD improved the cognitive function of individuals with schizophrenia over time.
Schizophrenia is incurable but treatable. As always, consult a medical professional with any questions about diagnoses or treatment options.