What is Schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia is a chronic brain problem that affects the way a person thinks, acts, expresses emotions, perceives reality, and relates to others. People with schizophrenia interpret reality abnormally.
Schizophrenia is a psychosis in which a person cannot differentiate between reality and imagination. The world may seem a mix of confusing thoughts to them. People with schizophrenia may behave differently. Their behavior can be very strange and shocking. A sudden change in personality and behavior may occur in such persons. This situation is called a psychotic episode.
The disease varies from person to person in severity. Some people experience only one or a few psychotic episodes in their lifetime, other may have several episodes. In some people, it can disturb their lives, while others can lead a pretty normal life. In some people, there can be a gradual decline in the condition over time. Symptoms may worsen and fade in cycles.
It is a complex, long-term medical illness that affects about 1% of people in the United States. Although it can occur at any age, the average age of onset tends to be in the late teens to the early 20s for men, and the late 20s to early 30s for women. It is generally not diagnosed in a person younger than 12 or older than 40 years.
Schizophrenia may result in hallucinations, delusions, and extremely confused thinking and behavior that affect daily functioning, and can even be disabling.
Research shows that schizophrenia affects men and women almost equally but it may develop earlier in males. It is prevalent almost equally around with world across different ethnic groups and races.
Symptoms of Schizophrenia
Symptoms of schizophrenia may include such as:
- Confused thoughts
- Changes in behavior
Read about symptoms of schizophrenia in detail.
When to Seek Medical Advice
If you experience symptoms of schizophrenia, you should contact the doctor. The earlier you get the treatment, the better it is. Read about schizophrenia treatment.
There is no confirmatory test for schizophrenia. Your doctor (such as a psychiatrist) will diagnose it after assessment of your overall condition and, in particular, your mental health. Read about diagnosing schizophrenia.
Causes of Schizophrenia
The exact cause of schizophrenia is not known. Most researchers believe the disease is caused by a combination of genetic, brain chemistry, and environmental factors.
Some people are more vulnerable to it than others. There are certain factors that seem to increase the risk of developing or triggering schizophrenia in people.
Read about schizophrenia causes in detail.
How to Treat Schizophrenia
There is no cure for schizophrenia, but research is exploring new treatment options.
It is usually treated with a combination of medication and therapy. This may include antipsychotic medicines and behavioural therapy.
Many people recover from schizophrenia, although there may be periods when symptoms may return. Many patients do well with minimal symptoms or periods of recovery.
Experts are studying the causes of the disease by studying genetics, underlying biology, behavioral research, brain chemistry, and advanced imaging to look at the brain’s structure, mechanism, and functioning. Hopefully, we will have new, better, and more effective therapies in future for schizophrenia.
Read about treating schizophrenia.
Living with Schizophrenia
If the disease is managed well and the treatment starts on time, it is possible to reduce the chances of psychotic episodes.
A positive outlook is important and patients, family members and health professionals need to recognize and support the patients.
People with schizophrenia may have additional illnesses such as these:
- Substance abuse
- Posttraumatic stress disorder
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Delusional disorder
- Schizoaffective disorder
- Schizophreniform disorder