is a serious brain disorder that affects more than 1 percent of the population,
according to the American
Psychiatric Association. People with schizophrenia slowly lose contact
with reality and often have delusions or hallucinations. There are
misconceptions about this mental illness. Some people think schizophrenia is
the same as a split personality but these illnesses are not the same.
Schizophrenia can occur in men and women of all ages. Men
often develop symptoms in their late teens or early 20s. Women may start
showing signs of the illness in their late 20s and early 30s, according to the National
Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI).
Symptoms of Schizophrenia
can cause several other sometimes disturbing symptoms. These include the
Unorganized Thinking or Speech
can include rapidly changing topics when speaking or using made-up words and
examples of this are trouble controlling impulses, odd emotional responses to
situations, or a lack of emotion or expressions (coma-like daze).
Loss of Interests or Excitement
may include social isolation, or trouble experiencing pleasure, planning, or
completing normal everyday activities.
exact cause of schizophrenia is unknown. Medical researchers believe biological
and environmental factors may contribute to the illness.
tests completed on people with schizophrenia often show abnormalities with
brain structure. A low level of the brain chemicals that affect emotions and
behavior may also contribute to this mental illness. Other risk factors for
family history of the illness
to toxins or a virus before birth or during infancy
an inflammatory or an autoimmune disease
Schizophrenia Diagnosis and Tests
isn’t a single test to diagnose schizophrenia. A complete psychiatric exam can
help your doctor make a diagnosis. You'll need to see a psychiatrist or a
mental health professional. At this appointment, you’ll answer questions about
your medical history, mental health, and family medical history. Your doctor
will complete a physical exam, order blood work, and use imaging tests —
magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT) scan — to check
substance abuse, certain medications, and other mental illnesses cause symptoms
similar to schizophrenia. Your doctor may diagnose schizophrenia if you’ve had
at least two symptoms for a one-month period. One of these symptoms must
include hallucinations, delusions, or disorganized speech, says the Mayo
no cure for schizophrenia. If you're diagnosed with this mental illness, you'll
need lifelong treatment to control or reduce the severity of symptoms. It’s
important to get treatment from a psychiatrist who has experience treating
people with schizophrenia. You may also work with a social worker or a case
medication is the most common treatment for schizophrenia. These include
typical and atypical antipsychotic drugs. Medication can stop hallucinations,
delusions, and relieve other psychotic symptoms. If psychosis occurs, you may
be hospitalized and receive treatment under close medical supervision.
treatment option for schizophrenia is psychosocial intervention. This includes
individual therapy to help you cope with stress and your illness. Social
training can improve your social and communication skills, and vocational rehab
can provide the skills you need to return to work.
is a severe mental illness that shouldn’t be ignored or left untreated. This
illness increases the risk of serious complications, such as:
phobias, and depression
or drug abuse
can also make it difficult to work or attend school. If you can’t work or
support yourself financially there’s a higher risk for poverty and
biological and environmental factors may contribute to schizophrenia, there's
no way to prevent this brain disorder from developing. However, it’s possible enjoy
a healthy, symptom-free life. Schizophrenia symptoms can go away for a
while and then return. Listening to your doctor’s recommendations may
improve your prognosis.
to the UK's
Royal College of Psychiatrists, for every five people diagnosed with
schizophrenia, one in five will get better within five years of their first
episode. It’s important that you learn about your condition, understand the
risk factors, and follow your doctor's treatment plan.