Even though this subject is based on how schizophrenia can benefit from physical activity, it would still be useful and interesting to talk about other ways to treat this mental disorder. To start off with, there are four general stages to treat this complex disorder and all four are needed to get the best results as possible.
Antipsychotics such as Risperdal, Seroquel and Zyprexa are some of the modern medical treatments who have the properties to help lower acute symptoms (hallucination, weird behavior and delirium). On the other hand, these medical treatments can also have secondary effects such as weight gaining which force the person to watch out for diabetes. Plus, he/she must watch his/her nutrition and has to exercise a lot.
- Rehabilitation programs
Medical treatments are usually followed by a rehabilitation program which starts from the hospitalisation. To help keep the motivation up for the person in need, gradual stimulation is needed to vanquish persistent symptoms that are affecting his/her progression.
- Psych education therapy
It is very important to inform the person and his/her family the necessary information about the mental disorder, the evolution process and the treatments available. Most importantly, it is necessary to avoid as much as possible any situation involving stress which can worsen the disorder.
- Social support
With all the treatments and the effects of schizophrenia happening, the person will need social support now than ever to help out life’s problems (house payment, food, work, etc.) At this stage, an assistance to plan out activities and realize them will become part of a daily routine.
Source: NICOLE, Luc MD & al. L’activité physique comme substitute à l’alcool et aux drogues chez les personnes atteintes de la schizophrénie : une étude pilote, 22 septembre 2011
As we now know, people with schizophrenia have a major difficulty of dealing with stress and anxiety. Stress comes in different forms and affects greatly people with schizophrenia to a point of creating side effects such as social isolation, mood disturbance and hearing hallucination. We also know that cardio exercise can help people with schizophrenia by making them focus on a different subject such as trying to score a goal in hockey or making it to the finish line in a thirty minute run. The next question to ask is: Can musculation exercise be a part of the solution?
Actually, musculation exercise can help in certain situation since it requires the person to concentrate on counting the number of repetitions and sets. The real solution would be to be able to relax the muscle. In fact, some studies explain how muscle relaxation training can progressively reduce anxiety for people with schizophrenia efficiently. One study in particular showed how progressively muscle relaxation training helps reduce psychological effects of anxiety and distress symptoms associated with schizophrenia.
The college of Nursing in Taipei Medical University has made an experiment in which eighteen acute schizophrenic person were given to an experimental or control group. The experimental group received the progressive muscle relaxation training while the control group received a placebo intervention. As a result, the anxiety improvement level was significantly higher in the experimental group. In other words, the study demonstrated that the progressive muscle relaxation tactic can help lower anxiety for people with schizophrenia.
In the end, there are many ways to benefit from the muscle relaxation training method. Many activities such as yoga, massage centers, Tai Chi and even meditation are some perfect examples to help out manage this mental disorder.
Source: CHEN Wc & al. Efficacy of progressive muscle relaxation training in reducing anxiety in patients with acrute schizophrenia, Tawan, [Online], http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19583651, Aug 2009
Video: Analysing a video on schizophrenia
In this part of the subject, we will be looking at a video found on Youtube. This video tells the story of a young girl who actually has schizophrenia and how her parents deal with it. I will be tempting to point out some important factors to lookout for from the video.
When starting the video, at the very beginning, what exactly can you see from the little girl? Nothing special? Then you are correct to notice that. Even if she has schizophrenia, that little girl is still human. Like everyone else, she does not look any different and she still needs to eat, clean up and sleep. She does show a little knowledge about schizophrenia. It only shows that people with schizophrenia, sometimes, does not even know if they are affected by schizophrenia or not.
Also, deeper within the video, the parents explains how their child is starting to hallucinate imaginary friends (Positive symptom). Naturally, like probably most of the parents, they are willing to try just about anything to cure the mental disorder. How? The little girl got a prescription for medical drugs known as Thorzine. This pill has an effect which is supposed to help vanquish false perception such as illusion and hallucination. Often used to treat psychotic children, Thorzine has a limite capability. In the video, the parents keep on feeding their child with Thorzine but the results are vain since her brain refuse to let go on her imaginary friend. This goes to show how the brain is very complex and not all problems can be solved by pills and drugs. Even though Thorzine is a prescribed medical pill, there are some side effects to be aware about:
• Dry mouth
• Muscle spasms
• Slow speech
• Digestion difficulty
• Skin problem
It is sad to say, but at one point, the girl when to a different stage where she became unsociable. She was losing friends and she preferred being alone. As a result, the number of imaginary friends kept rising to fill the void of loneliness.
Then, believe it or not, things got worst. By the age of 5 years old, violence became a real matter. The young girl when into a stage where every physical hit was so strong, it was if she was fighting got her life without any warning.
I will let you see the video for further information but in the end, the father said these words: “You see this normal blond looking 6 years old girl. But there are all these characters that are out to get her. And as long as she is occupied , they stay at bay.” So what this mean is if she has her mind occupied, there will be no symptoms of schizophrenia at that time. This is exactly what I was explaining about the benefits of physical activity on schizophrenia. No pill, no drugs, no medications, by simply offering her to be physically active can help her mind focus on something else beside her mental disorder. On the plus side, she will get healthier in the process. How does that sound?
Source: Young schizophrenic at her mind’s mercy, Youtube, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UTUMt05_nCI
depression-guide.com, L’information en ligne de Thorazine
Here are the different kinds of schizophrenia that people can be faced with:
- Paranoid schizophrenia
This type of schizophrenia is the most frequent from there is out there. People with paranoid schizophrenia are most likely to behave in a manner of distrust and having delirious convictions. In some cases, those people will believe that they are affected by some outside “force” controlling their every movement. For example, some might say that electromagnetic waves from outer space are the reason why they behave in such way. Another characteristic will be that paranoid schizophrenia will create hallucination making those people think someone is speaking to them.
The facts remain that having the manner of distrust and delirious convictions will bring a high level of anxiety, irritability and violence to those who have this mental disorder only to free themselves from the symptoms.
- Unorganised schizophrenia
Unorganised schizophrenia actually reflects how the person behaves, speaks and feels. This form of schizophrenia represents a disorganization of the brain. For example, within the presence of a speech, the person will often only hear what he/she desires to hear. That person will also create sentence of his/her own making conversation a lot harder to comprehend. As for behavior, the person will mostly make repetitive movements, weird gestures and sometime forget about hygiene. Finally, for emotions, that person will hardly or mostly not show any sign of emotions.
- Catatonic schizophrenia
Compared to the paranoid schizophrenia type, catatonic schizophrenia is less common. The person can easily get agitated without any reasons and he/she can also close himself/herself in. Apparently, this form is very dangerous since the person will often stop eating, can voluntarily get injured and can be agitated to a level near exhaustion and death.
- Undifferentiated schizophrenia
This type of schizophrenia is really unusual. It represents a mix of all the symptoms listed above (Paranoid, Unorganized and Catatonic schizophrenia) but the undifferentiated schizophrenia cannot be recognized. In fact, some might say that it would be hard to identify the particular type or form of this schizophrenia with all the symptoms.
Source: Societe Quebecoise sur la schizophrenie
Sante et services sociaux Quebec, Schizophrenie, 2013
Now that we know that aerobic exercise if effective for people with schizophrenia, it is now time to show an example of a cardio exercise program. In this example, the client will be on a treadmill. Remember, the exercise shown down below is only an example. We will see what to look for in a program as well as how to adapt the exercise for each individual.
To start out with, there will be three steps in the whole workout; a warm-up, the cardio exercise and a cool down. It is very crucial not to skip any of the steps since the warm-up will prepare the muscles for intense cardio exercise and the cool down will prevent any physical discomfort after a hard intensity workout such as dizziness, chest pain and hyperventilation.
Please take note. Before attempting to build a program as the one above, make sure to keep an eye out for the following factors.
- Blood pressure (and other medical attention): If the blood pressure is too high, the client might have some hypertension problem leading to possible heart attacks and chest pain.
- Heart rate at rest: This indicator will allow you to have a prediction on what kind of intensity you will be facing.
- Difficulty evaluation (Borg test): Make sure to keep an eye on this test since it will indicate how the client is feeling throughout the exercise. If the exercise is too intense and that the client feels week, adjust either the slope, speed or resistance in some case (bicycle, rowing, Stairmaster)
Finally, the reason of high intensity training was given in this example is that if the exercise if more difficult, more likely the person with schizophrenia will be focus on the task at hand. Some of them can only concentrate on one task at a time and the intensity of the exercise will most likely be that factor. So, he/she won’t have the time to think about the stress at work or home and exercise will help him/her for physical and psychological purpose such as basic health and self-confidence. Although, anxiety will be cause some discomfort at first. In this case, make sure to start exercising slowly and progressively before adding intensity.
Before applying exercise as a physical treatment to clients with schizophrenia, it would be best to have a little knowledge on how the exercise will influence the neurological system. In the last post, we learned how physical activity would have an impact on schizophrenics. How exercise will affect key symptoms such as social isolation and the lack of motivation. However, what is actually happening in the mind of the client?
Basically, we can divide the brains neurological system into two parts, the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system. To put it more simply, the human brain has to deal with stress every day. As a reaction, the sympathetic nervous system will activate to deal with the stressful event. What this mean is that the nervous system will give a warning to the body which will trigger the increase of the heart rate and the blood pressure as well as releasing the stress hormones, the noradrenaline and adrenaline. So, with all the biological reaction, the person will feel physical discomfort such as headache, stomach burn, anxiety, irritability, lack of sleep, etc.
Fortunately, we do have a way to neurologically deal with the stress emotion. The parasympathetic nervous system allows us to keep calm and save energy. This system lowers the heart rate and the blood pressure. It is also known as a passive function of the brain.
As a follow-up, doing exercise and physical activities makes the parasympathetic nervous system predominant. So by doing simple activities such as walking, jogging, skiing, etc., the energy use for the sympathetic nervous system to deal with every day stress will be release, making the parasympathetic nervous system more efficient. In a long term, the person will realize some positives physiological changes in the organism and the first observation is the decrease heart rate at rest. Also, by simply doing 20 to 30 minutes of exercise per day with a moderate intensity will help lower the arterial blood pressure in the following two hours according to Richard Chevalier, a baccalaureate physical educator and master in exercise physiology.
So, for the person with schizophrenia, doing exercise will help him/her to ease the stress and therefore, lowering anxiety, depression, physical discomfort, etc. The parasympathetic nervous system will be more predominant and thus, help the person with schizophrenia to obtain a healthier lifestyle, physically and mentally.
Source: ST-ONGE, Maxime, Les bases theoriques en entraînement personnalise, Anie, Montreal, 489 pages
As we all know now, schizophrenics are most likely to feel anxiety, stress and other kinds of feelings or strange behaviors. Many person will probably think that to “cure the disease”, medications, pills and other chemical substances will be needed. Although this might be true, let me remind you that we will approach this subject but with a different point of view.
Is one of the previous blog, we have talked about what are the possible causes of schizophrenia. One of the subjects was that the environment was one of the two grand factors. Many people who consume alcohol and drugs (added with other factors) are most likely to have a better chance of developing schizophrenia. Recent studies have shown that doing physical activity can help with anxiety and advance research demonstrated that it can also help people with consummation problems. A quick note is that this specific test is only in a pilot state meaning that there is more to be done before confirming other theories.
At this point, the studies have not shown any conclusive signs of effects targeting positives or negatives key symptoms of schizophrenia. On the other hand, researchers have found that even though consummation is a factor to develop the mental illness, schizophrenics are still more at risk of feeling depression, anxiety and the need of consuming constantly.
According to Daley and al. 2008; ströhle,2009, it is suggested that to treat major depression, physical aerobic activity are to be given. It does not mean that a schizophrenic has to enter a gym or a YMCA. Yes those can be solutions to do physical activities. Having a personal trainer can keep the motivation up and having a specific training program can help the schizophrenic on how to use a machine as well as the type of exercise.
**Keep in mind that not all professional trainers have the knowledge and the appropriate training to help out people with mental disorders.
Researchers Acil and al. 2008; Gorczynski & Faulkner. 2010 believe that even though science did not show any results on physical activity affecting the key symptoms of schizophrenia, they explain that it could be possible that physical activity can relieve the negative symptoms but not the positive ones. This means that the lost functions of the brain can be “replaced” or “camouflages” by something else. In this case, all thoughts will be focused into doing an activity.
Plus, there is also an alternative for those who prefer not to enter a gym. As the researchers said, all that is required is to do aerobic activities. Meaning that walking an hour outdoor, swimming, biking and dancing can consider being good options. Group sports such as soccer, hockey and volleyball are most favorable for the motivation aspect. As long that the activity will raise the heart beat per minute (bpm) up to a certain level, the activity is good. How to know the bpm to reach? Do not worry; we will discuss this topic in another blog. In the meantime, spring is just around the corner. If you know a person with schizophrenia, encourage him/her to go outside and do a minimum of an hour of activity per day.