Medically reviewed by Dr. Rena Ferguson
There used to be a greeting card in the mid-1990s that said, “Roses are red, violets are blue, I’m schizophrenic and so am I.” This unfortunate sentiment reflected society’s insensitivity towards the condition and the common belief that schizophrenia and multiple personality disorder (technically called Dissociative identity disorder) They are the same. People with schizophrenia are also often portrayed by the media as frightening and violent. But these are all widespread misconceptions.
We collected some data to help you better understand this complex chronic mental illness that affects up to 20 million people all over the world.
What is schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia is a mental illness that causes people to have episodes of psychosis, which means they lose touch with reality. There is no cure for schizophrenia and it requires lifelong treatment. While some people with the disease will be severely disabled by it, others can recover and lead a full life.
What are the symptoms of schizophrenia?
Symptoms of schizophrenia include hallucinations, delusions, disorganized speech, inability to think clearly, and suicidal thoughts and behaviors.
- Hallucinations occur when someone sees, hears, smells, or feels things that are not there, but feel extremely real to the person experiencing them. These hallucinations can include real people that the person knows, even if they are not actually there, which can contribute to their quality of life.
- Delusions are firmly held beliefs about something that is not true. Examples include someone who thinks he is being hurt or who believes that someone is in love with him.
- Disorganized thinking occurs when a person struggles to organize their thoughts or complete tasks. It often causes disorganized speech, which can come in the form of repeating the same words over and over again, speaking in a rush, appearing to speak to people who do not exist, using made-up words, word salads, and other atypical speech patterns.
- Negative symptoms they are the absence of normal experiences and actions. For example, someone with negative symptoms may have difficulty having normal communications or connections with others, or may be unable to experience pleasure.
What are the causes of schizophrenia?
No one knows exactly what causes schizophrenia, but research suggests that it is likely a combination of genetic, psychological, physical, and environmental factors.
- Genetics: A predisposition to schizophrenia can be inherited, but no genes have been identified as being responsible.
- Stress: Stressful life events do not cause schizophrenia, but they can act as triggers to cause schizophrenia to develop in people who are already at risk.
- Substance use: some studies have suggested that taking mind-altering drugs (psychoactive or psychotropic) during adolescence and early adulthood may increase the risk of developing schizophrenia.
- Environment: Malnutrition or exposure to toxins or viruses before birth has been shown to affect brain development and increase the risk of schizophrenia.
Who develops schizophrenia?
While schizophrenia affects men and women equally, it can have an earlier onset in men. In men, symptoms of schizophrenia usually begin in their 20s and 20s. In women, they usually begin in the late 20s. Schizophrenia is rare in childhood and rates are similar around the world.
What are the treatments for schizophrenia?
There is no cure for schizophrenia, so the disorder requires lifelong treatment. The earlier it is diagnosed, the better; early treatment can help control symptoms.
Treatment of schizophrenia involves both medications and psychological treatments. Family support is particularly important for people diagnosed with schizophrenia, and psychosocial treatments such as social skills training and vocational rehabilitation can improve quality of life.
Are people with schizophrenia violent?
People with schizophrenia can sometimes seem scary because they don’t behave in the way that we expect most people to do, but most people with schizophrenia are no more dangerous than the general population.
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