What is Schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a severe psychological illness that interferes with a person’s ability to think clearly, manage emotions, make decisions and relate to others. Contrary to popular belief, it is not a split or multiple personality disorder, but makes the sufferer unable to differentiate between reality and imagination.
Schizophrenia affects about 1 percent of all adults, worldwide. Although schizophrenia can occur at any age, the average age of inception tends to be in the late teens to the early 20s for men, and the late 20s to early 30s for women. It is rare for schizophrenia to be diagnosed in a person younger than 12 or older than 40.
The conduct of people with schizophrenia may be very strange and even shocking. Characterized by delusions, hallucinations, and other cognitive difficulties, schizophrenia can often be a lifelong struggle as it is not curable. But with proper diagnosis and treatment, it is possible to live well with schizophrenia.


Symptoms and signs of schizophrenia vary, depending on the person and severity of the disorder. The symptoms of schizophrenia can be categorized as positive, negative, and cognitive.

  • Positive symptoms: Patient tends to lose the reality touch, resulting in psychotic behaviour.
    • Hallucinations
    • Delusions
    • Disorganized speech and thought
    • Agitated body movements.
  • Negative symptoms: Negative symptoms are linked with abnormal emotions and behaviours.
    • Lack of emotional expressions
    • Reduced Energy
    • Lack of motivation
    • Feeling disconnected from your feelings
    • Loss of pleasure or interest in life
    • Withdrawal from family, friends, and social activities.
  • Cognitive symptoms: For some patients the cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia can be subtle, but for others it can lead to:
    • Poor ability to understand information and decision-making
    • Trouble focusing
    • Inability to use information immediately after learning it.

The causes of Schizophrenia are still not very clear. However, it is believed that genetic and environmental factors act together to bring about schizophrenia. Here is a list of the factors that are assumed to contribute towards the onset of schizophrenia:

  • Genetic inheritance (Passed on from parents to their children.)
  • The chemical imbalance in the brain (abnormal regulation of certain chemicals-neurotransmitters)
  • Family relationships (family tension or stress)
  • Environmental factors (viral infection)
  • Drug-induced schizophrenia (extensive exposure to toxins like marijuana, or LSD).
Schizophrenia diagnosis

Diagnosing schizophrenia is very difficult, and is further aggravated by the fact that many people who are diagnosed with it, do not believe that they have it. So it often becomes the responsibility of family or friends to get them help. Certain tests can be performed to get it diagnosed.

  • Imaging studies
  • Psychological evaluation
  • Blood test.

A person is considered to have schizophrenia if he or she has characteristic symptoms that last for at least six-months.

Treatments and Therapies

There is no cure for schizophrenia, but symptoms can be controlled/ eliminated by:

  • Antipsychotics treatment
  • Psychosocial Treatments
  • Occupational therapy
  • Family counselling
  • Cognitive behaviour therapy
  • A combination of Medication and Psychological counselling
  • Medications
  • Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).

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