Schizophrenia, social cognition, and depression
Schizophrenia is a chronic mental disorder that interferes with the thoughts, emotions, and actions of a person. It affects around 1 % of the population worldwide. Signs and symptoms of the disorder appear between 16 to 30 years. They include; delusions, hallucinations, movement and thought disorders. Schizophrenia affects the brain leading to a malfunction in the working memory. People living with this disorder are unable to understand information quickly and use it to make decisions or take action.
The exact cause of the disorder is not known. However, scientists state that genetic factors in combination with some environmental factors can lead to schizophrenia. These environmental factors include; faulty connections during brain formation, psychosocial factors, and exposure to viruses. Schizophrenia is not curable but it can be controlled using medication and psychosocial therapies.
Depression is an illness that affects a person’s ability to think, feel and act. It is characterized by depression moods, loss of interest in activities, suicidal thoughts, hypersomnia and insomnia, psychomotor agitation and low self-esteem. There are different types of depression; unipolar and bipolar, post-partum depression and major depressive disorder with psychotic features.
Scientists have not yet established the cause of depression. However, according to them, several environmental, genetic, biological and psychosocial factors can lead to depression. Individuals undergoing difficult situations such as divorce or loss of a loved one are more likely to get depression. Also, people who experienced trauma during childhood, head injury or have a relative with depression are at a higher risk. Depression is treatable using medication such as antidepressants and psychotherapy. Psychotherapy includes cognitive-behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, and problem-solving treatment.
Social cognition is a study that tries to establish mental processes involved during interaction with others. It has four stages encoding, storage, retrieving, and processing. Social cognition seeks to understand the mental states of others, their emotions, believes and thoughts. It is identical to the theory of mind. People from different cultures interpret social situations differently. They have dissimilar thoughts, believes and feelings.
People living with schizophrenia depict a deficit in social cognition. Brain injuries also affect social cognition by interfering with how the brain interprets and reacts to the surroundings. In social cognition, psychologists seek to find out how the brain operates and the influence a person has on the brain processes. How attitudes are formed and their effects. How self-image is formed and brain processes involved in forming perceptions and impressions about others. It also tries to establish how social cognitive processes are involved in decision making when interacting with others.
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Gottesman, Irving I., and James Shields. Schizophrenia. CUP Archive, 1982.
Fiske, Susan T., and Shelley E. Taylor. Social cognition: From brains to culture. Sage, 2013.
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