Schizophrenia is an acute mental disorder in which one experiences an abnormal reality. This condition involves distortions in perception, thinking, language, and emotional behavior. Common experiences associated with schizophrenia include hallucinations (hearing voices or seeing imaginary objects abuse ability) and delusions (fixed and false concepts).
Schizophrenia is treatable. However, lifelong treatment is required. Early treatment can help get symptoms under control before more serious complications develop. Continued treatment improves the lifetime outlook.
Schizophrenia is a severe and chronic mental disorder affecting as many as 20 million people worldwide. People with schizophrenia have lost the sense of reality which causes distress for people, friends, and family. The symptoms of schizophrenia are persistent and may be disabling if the disease is not managed appropriately. It cannot be treated without medical professionals.
Signs and symptoms
Schizophrenia is a type of mental illness with psychotic features. It involves distortions in thinking, emotions, perceptions, sense of self, language, and behavior. Common symptoms include:
- Reduced speaking
- Diminished feelings of pleasure in daily life
- Reduced motivation, difficulty planning, beginning, and sustaining activities
- “Flat affect” or reduced expression of emotions through facial expressions or voice tone
- Hallucination — seeing, hearing, or feeling false and imaginary things
- Delusion — fixed, false concepts or suspicions not shared by others in the patient’s culture
- Abnormal behavior — Disorganized behavior, such as wandering, talking or mumbling to yourselves, self-neglection, or strange appearance
- Disorganized speech — incoherent or irrelevant speech
- Disturbances of emotions — Disconnect between reported emotion and what is observed, such as facial expressions or body language
Causes of schizophrenia
Schizophrenia may be caused by an interaction between genes and environmental factors. Psychosocial factors can also lead to schizophrenia. Following are the common risk factors:
Schizophrenia is sometimes inherited. Several different genes increase the risk of creating schizophrenia. However, a single gene doesn’t cause the disorder itself. Nevertheless, scientists can’t use genetic information to ascertain the real cause of developing schizophrenia.
It is thought that interactions between genetic risk and aspects of a patient’s environment can play a key role in the development of schizophrenia. Environmental factors may include poverty, stressful living conditions, exposure to viruses, or malnutrition before birth.
Brain structure and function
Scientists believe that brain function, structure, and interactions between neurotransmitters can result in the development of schizophrenia.
When left untreated, schizophrenia can lead to severe complications that affect the patient’s whole life. The following complications are associated with schizophrenia:
- Social isolation
- Being victimized
- Aggressive behavior (although it is not typical)
- Suicide, suicide attempts, or suicidal ideation
- Anxiety disorders and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Drug abuse
- Financial problems and homelessness
- Health and medical problems
Treatment of schizophrenia is quite difficult, and there is no sure way to prevent it. Sticking with the treatment plan can help prevent relapses or worsening signs and symptoms. Researchers are hopeful that learning more about risk factors for the disease may guide earlier diagnosis and treatment.
Schizophrenia is curable. Treatment with medication and psychosocial support is an effective way to relieve the symptoms of schizophrenia. Most people with schizophrenia have no access to treatment. When the symptoms of schizophrenia are controlled, various types of treatment must continue to help the patient manage the disorder and improve their life.
Psychosocial support and therapy can help patients learn social skills, cope with stress, identify signs of relapse, and extend periods of remission. Schizophrenia commonly attacks in early adulthood. Those with the disorder often benefit from rehabilitation for developing life-management skills, completing educational or vocational training, and seeking a job.
Studies demonstrate that supported employment programs are helpful to enable people with schizophrenia to become more self-sufficient. This evidence-based intervention helps people with schizophrenia obtain regular wages related to their preferences.
An optimistic approach is very important for patients, family members, and mental health professionals. Many patients have a curable course of illness that conditions can often be controlled, and personal patient abilities must be kept in mind and supported.
Ways to help a person with schizophrenia
Many loved ones struggle with understanding how to help a person with schizophrenia. The following things may be helpful for those with schizophrenia:
- Remember that their concepts or hallucinations look very real to them
- Help them get treatment and encourage them to continue it
- Be respectful, supportive, and kind without tolerating dangerous or improper behavior
- Tell them that you acknowledge their right to see things their way
- Check the existence of some other support groups in your area
- Some symptoms require immediate and emergency care. If the patient is thinking about harming himself or others or attempting suicide, seek help at once:
- Call 911 for emergency services or go to the nearest emergency center
- Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline(Lifeline) at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text the Crisis Text Line Text HELLO to 741741.
- Mayo Clinic. Schizophrenia. 2020
- World Health Organization. Schizophrenia. 2022.
- National Institute of Mental Health. Schizophrenia. 2020.
- Lecomte T, Corbière M, Simard S, Leclerc C. Merging evidence-based psychosocial interventions in schizophrenia. Behav Sci (Basel). 2014;4(4):437-447. Published 2014 Nov 6.