What is Schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a chronic brain disorder that can include delusions, hallucinations, trouble with thinking and concentration, and lack of motivation. About 1% of the population is diagnosed with schizophrenia. About 1.5 million people will be diagnosed with schizophrenia this year around the world. Schizophrenia affects men and women equally, but there is usually an earlier onset in males.

The causes of schizophrenia are studied through genetics, behavioral research, and advanced imaging to look at the brain's structure and function. This can lead to new, more effective treatments. Due to the complexity of schizophrenia, there are many misconceptions about the disease. Most people who live with schizophrenia are not dangerous or violent. 


Symptoms

Schizophrenia usually brings about a range of cognitive, behavior, and emotional problems. Symptoms may vary, but usually include:

Delusions

These are false beliefs that are not based on real facts. One may think that: they are being harassed, they are famous, another person is in love with them, or a major catastrophe is about to occur.

Hallucinations

These usually involve seeing or hearing things that do not exist. For someone living with schizophrenia, what they see and hear appears to be a normal experience. Hallucinations can be in any of the senses, but hearing voices is the most common.

Disorganized Thinking

Effective communication is impaired when one has disorganized thoughts and their answers to questions may be partially or completely unrelated. 

Abnormal Motor Behavior

This is shown in a number of ways, such as childlike silliness or unpredictable agitation. The behavior is not focused on a goal, so it is hard to do tasks. This behavior can include resistance to instructions, inappropriate posture, lack of response, or excessive movement.

Negative Symptoms

This refers to the lack of ability to function normally, such as personal hygiene. This can include not making eye contact, lack of emotion, or no changes in facial expression. This could happen when the person living with schizophrenia loses interest in everyday activities from socially withdrawing themselves.


Helping Someone Who May Have Schizophrenia

If you have reason to believe that someone you know may have the symptoms of schizophrenia, talk to them about your concerns. Although you cannot force them to seek professional help, you can offer encouragement and support by being there for them or even helping them find a qualified mental health professional.

If your loved one poses a danger to themselves or others or cannot provide their own food, clothing, or shelter, you may need to call 911 or other emergency responders for help.