What is Schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia is a psychotic disorder characterized by experiencing hallucinations, delusions, impacted speech and behavior, and even catatonia. If you think that you or a loved one have schizophrenia, it is important to see a doctor immediately.
Schizophrenia symptoms generally start between the ages of 15 and 30. Men often develop symptoms at a younger age than women. Schizophrenia generally has three types of symptoms:
- Positive symptoms: things that are in your head or distort your thinking, such as visual and auditory hallucinations and delusions.
- Negative symptoms: these symptoms make you feel depressed, have difficulty communicating, and have trouble relating to people.
- Cognitive symptoms: symptoms that affect your ability to make decisions and process and use information.
Your doctor will likely perform a series of tests to determine if you have schizophrenia. If left untreated, schizophrenia can be dangerous. It is important to work together with your doctor to treat schizophrenia symptoms. Some common schizophrenia symptoms include:
- Auditory hallucinations, including hearing voices or conversations that are not there
- Seeing things, including people or figures that are not real
- Believing that you are communicating with a higher power or important figure
- Unwarranted paranoia or suspicion, like believing someone is listening to your calls
- Trouble making decisions or processing information to make choices
- Insisting that clearly imaginary or false things are true
- Emotional detachment
- Obsession with things that aren’t real
- Disorganized speech and trouble communicating ideas
Schizophrenia Causes and Risk Factors
There is no single cause for schizophrenia, but certain risk factors can make you more likely to develop it, including:
- A family history of schizophrenia or other mental health conditions
- Birth trauma or birth defects
- Exposure to certain viruses before or just after birth
- Genetic defects
- Differences in brain structure or brain chemistry
- Suffering a traumatic brain injury
- Surviving extreme trauma or torture
- A past history of drug use
- Abuse or trauma in childhood
Schizophrenia is a condition that requires continuous treatment and monitoring. Work with your doctors and therapists to find a treatment plan that works for you.
Medication: Many medications are available that can help control your schizophrenia symptoms. Your doctor may prescribe antipsychotic medications, antianxiety drugs, mood stabilizers, or other drugs.
Therapy: Therapy is often an essential component of treatment of schizophrenia. Psychosocial treatments, talk therapy, and other types of specialty therapy can help you cope with the symptoms of schizophrenia. Inpatient therapy may also be beneficial. Learn about your options at Sheppard Pratt.
Education: Learning more about schizophrenia can help you discover your triggers and learn how to explain your condition to others. See our learning resources to explore more information.
Support: Getting support from other people who have lived with the same condition that you do can help you learn new skills and feel better. Learn more about support groups.