Mental disorders like Schizophrenia can have a huge impact on people, families, and communities. Our goal is to help you take back control and live your best life.
Schizophrenia is perhaps the most heavily stigmatized mental illness. Due to characteristic damage present in key synapses in the brain, people with schizophrenia can have distorted perceptions of the world around them that affect their thoughts, feelings, and behavior.
It is hard to determine the exact number of people suffering from schizophrenia worldwide due to the complex nature of the diagnosis. Due to differing diagnosis methods around the world and overlap between schizophrenia and other mental health disorders, we can only estimate the prevalence of schizophrenia. Studies based on household surveys, diagnostic interviews, and medical records suggest that about 0.25% of people in the United States are dealing with schizophrenia.
If you believe that you or someone you care about might be experiencing a psychotic disorder like schizophrenia, you are not alone. Keep reading to learn more about:
If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, please contact emergency services or reach out to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)’s free, confidential, 24/7 national helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) for immediate assistance.
Schizophrenia is a type of severe, chronic psychosis. Like other psychoses, people with schizophrenia experience distortions in their perception of the world – such as seeing hallucinations or hearing voices that are not there – that impact their emotions, language, behavior, and sense of personal identity.
Schizophrenia is treatable. There are a variety of medications and other therapies that can be used effectively to control schizophrenia and offer people suffering from the disorder relief. Despite this, people with schizophrenia often face stigma, discrimination, and even violence due to their condition.
People with schizophrenia can have a variety of cognitive, emotional, and behavioral symptoms. It affects many parts of the brain, which means it can result in diverse symptoms and that every schizophrenic person experiences the disorder differently.
Symptoms of schizophrenia can be broken into three categories:
But what do these types of symptoms look like in a person with schizophrenia? People with schizophrenia may present with symptoms like:
Schizophrenia is typically diagnosed later in life than other mental health conditions. Men typically experience the onset of symptoms and are diagnosed in their late teens to early 20s, whereas women are more likely to be diagnosed in their early 20s to early 30s.
Diagnosing schizophrenia can involve several steps. Doctors will first complete a physical exam and possibly recommend an MRI or CT scan to rule out other physical causes for these symptoms. Then a psychiatric evaluation will determine whether or not a person meets the diagnostic criteria set in the DSM-5 for diagnosing schizophrenia.
Schizophrenia is a complex disorder with a complex diagnostic process. We aren’t sure precisely what causes schizophrenia, but a variety of genetic, biological, and environmental factors that contribute to a person’s risk of developing schizophrenia have been identified.
Researchers have not identified a single gene that causes schizophrenia, but studies suggest that there is a strong genetic component to schizophrenia. Studies involving identical twins have concluded that if one twin develops schizophrenia, there is a 50% chance that the other twin will develop schizophrenia as well, even if they are raised in different environments. In non-identical twins, this risk is 12.5%.
Studies like this suggest that while there is a genetic component to schizophrenia, there are other factors at play as well.
Studies suggest that there are subtle differences between the biological structures in the brains of people with schizophrenia versus people without the disorder.
There is also a connection between schizophrenia and the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin and schizophrenia. Researchers believe that when these neurotransmitters become imbalanced or a person’s sensitivity to these neurotransmitters changes, schizophrenia can result.
People who experienced birth complications such as low birthweight, premature birth, and oxygen deprivation during birth may be at a higher risk of developing schizophrenia later in life.
Use of particular drugs – particularly cannabis, psychedelics, and amphetamines – can also trigger the onset of schizophrenia in people who are at risk.
Environmental factors like stress can play a role in whether or not a person who is at risk for developing schizophrenia actually develops the disorder or not. Stressful events like bereavement, losing a job or relationship, or experiencing abuse, will not cause schizophrenia in a person who is a low risk for developing the disease, but it can trigger the onset of schizophrenia in someone who is.
Schizophrenia can be an overwhelming diagnosis, but there are treatments available that can help people with schizophrenia manage their disorder and lead productive, fulfilling lives. Treatment for schizophrenia can involve:
At Transformations Care Network, we are dedicated to helping people in our communities access life-changing mental health care. If you believe that you are experiencing a psychosis such as schizophrenia, contact us today to learn what our compassionate care providers can do for you.