What is Schizophrenia?

What is schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a severe mental disorder that affects how a person thinks, feels and behaves, often making it seem like they have lost touch with reality. Schizophrenia is not as common as other mood disorders. The estimated amount of people suffering from schizophrenia is between 0.25% and 0.64% of the adult population in the United States. Schizophrenia typically develops between the ages of 17 to 30 for both men and women. Although it can occur at any age, it is uncommon for a child under the age of 12 to be diagnosed with the condition.

What are the symptoms of schizophrenia?

Understanding the symptoms of schizophrenia is crucial for both patients experiencing the condition, as well as those around them. Schizophrenia is a complex mental health disorder characterized by a range of symptoms that can significantly impact thoughts, emotions, and behavior. Symptoms of schizophrenia are commonly organized into three categories: positive symptoms, negative symptoms, and cognitive symptoms.

Positive symptoms

Positive symptoms are symptoms that are typically not seen in healthy individuals. Common positive symptoms of schizophrenia include:

  • Hallucinations– including hearing voices, seeing things that are not actually there, or smelling things that others cannot. These symptoms are very real to those suffering from schizophrenia.
  • Delusions– Having false beliefs that include paranoia, such as a belief that someone is reading their thoughts, or that they believe they are being spied on or controlled.

Negative symptoms

Negative symptoms are associated with disruptions in normal emotions or behaviors, such as:

  • Reduced expressions of emotions, including facial expressions or tone of voice.
  • Reduced feelings of pleasure in everyday activities
  • Reduced speaking or activity

Cognitive symptoms

Cognitive symptoms are associated with deficiencies in cognitive functioning and activity, including:

  • Problems with memory
  • Disorganized thoughts
  • Difficulty with everyday activities

What causes schizophrenia?

Research suggests that schizophrenia may have several possible causes:

  • Genetics– Heredity can play a strong role in developing schizophrenia. Your likelihood of developing schizophrenia is multiplied by six times if you are related to someone with the condition.
  • Issues during prenatal development– Such as exposure to viruses or malnutrition before birth, particularly in the first and second trimesters have been shown to increase the risk of schizophrenia.
  • Brain chemistry –Problems with certain brain chemicals, including neurotransmitters called dopamine and glutamate, may contribute to schizophrenia.
  • Substance abuse –It is suggested that taking mind-altering drugs during teen years and young adulthood can increase the risk of schizophrenia. A growing body of evidence indicates that smoking marijuana increases the risk of psychotic incidents and the risk of ongoing psychotic experiences. The younger and more frequent the use, the greater the risk.

How is schizophrenia treated?

While there are some theories on the causes of Schizophrenia, there are still many unknowns, so treatments focus on allieviating the symptoms of schizophrenia. Common treatments include:

Antipsychotic medication

It is important to work closely with your Dr. to find the right Antipsychotic for your symptoms. Examples of common antipsychotics are Seroquel (Quetiapine), Risperdal (Risperidone), Zyprexa (Olanzapine), and Abilify (Aripiprazole).

Psychosocial treatments

Psychosocial treatments are most beneficial in conjunction with medication discovered after you have met with a doctor. These treatments focus on behavioral learning and using coping skills to deal with the everyday challenges of having schizophrenia.

If you know someone with these symptoms it is important for you to help them get treatment and help them to stay in treatment. It is also important for you to remember that these symptoms are very real to them and to acknowledge them as such and be respectful, supportive and kind to these symptoms. If you or someone you know is diagnosed with schizophrenia and looking for new treatment options, consider a clinical research study with us today.