Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a chronic, severe, disabling brain disorder. It interferes with the way a person interprets reality. People with schizophrenia may: These and other symptoms make it difficult for people with schizophrenia to have positive relationships with others.

  • Causes

    The cause of schizophrenia is unknown but it is associated with problems in brain structure and chemistry. There may be some genetic role.

    Schizophrenia does not develop because of one factor. You may have a gene that increases your chance of schizophrenia, but you may not develop the disease based on your environment. Environment means any outside factor like stress or infection.

  • Definition

    Schizophrenia
    is a chronic, severe, disabling brain disorder. It interferes with the way a person interprets reality. People with schizophrenia may:

    • Hear voices or see things that others do not
    • Become paranoid that people are plotting against them
    • Experience cognitive deficits
    • Withdraw socially

    These and other symptoms make it difficult for people with schizophrenia to have positive relationships with others.

    Regions of the Brain
    Colored brain segments
    Schizophrenia affects many different areas of the brain causing a wide range of behavioral, emotional, and intellectual symptoms.
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

  • Diagnosis

    Your doctor will ask you about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.

    Schizophrenia is diagnosed by certain symptoms that:

    • Exist most of the time during a period of one month
    • Cause a decreased level of functioning
    • Continue for at least six months (certain symptoms)

    The doctor will rule out other causes, such as drug use, physical illness, or other mental health conditions.

  • Prevention

    There are no guidelines for preventing schizophrenia because the cause is unknown. But studies show that early, aggressive treatment leads to better outcomes.

  • Risk Factors

    Factors that increase your risk of schizophrenia include:

    • Having a parent or sibling with schizophrenia
    • Marijuana use or other drug use
    • Father being of older age
    • Other factors, like problems during pregnancy or birth such as infection

  • Symptoms

    Men typically develop symptoms in their late teens or early twenties. Schizophrenia in women tends to occur in their twenties or thirties. In rare cases, it is seen in childhood.

    Symptoms often appear slowly. They may become more disturbing and bizarre over time or occur in a matter of weeks or months.

    Symptoms may include:

    • Hallucinations—seeing or hearing things/voices that are not there
    • Delusions—strong but false personal beliefs that are not based in reality
    • Disorganized thinking
    • Disorganized speech—lack of ability to speak in a way that makes sense
    • Catatonic behavior—slow movement, repeating rhythmic gestures, pacing, walking in circles, refusal to do things, repetitive speech
    • Emotional flatness—flat speech, lack of facial expression, and general disinterest and withdrawal
    • Paranoia
    • Inappropriate laughter
    • Poor hygiene and self-care

  • Treatment

    Schizophrenia is not curable, but it is highly treatable. Hospitalization may be required during acute episodes. Symptoms are usually controlled with antipsychotic medicine.

    Talk to your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Options may include one or more of the following: