Causes & Effects of Schizophrenia

Understanding Schizophrenia

Learn about Schizophrenia Treatment

Schizophrenia is a pervasive mental health condition that can include symptoms such as disruptions in thinking patterns, hallucinations, and delusions. When left untreated, schizophrenia can significantly affect one’s entire life in a negative way.

Often beginning in early adulthood, schizophrenia affects one’s thought process and concentration, causing him or her to feel like current events are not real or experience a disconnect from his or her body. These feelings can interrupt an individual’s everyday living patterns.

Schizophrenia is a complex condition that requires intensive therapy and continued treatment in order to become manageable. Thankfully, treatment is available for those who are affected by this mental illness.


Statistics about Schizophrenia

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) reports that men are more likely than women to experience schizophrenia. The following statistics also apply to schizophrenia:

  • Women are more likely to develop schizophrenia later in life than men
  • Approximately 0.3-0.7% of the U.S. population has received a diagnosis of schizophrenia
  • About 20% individuals with schizophrenia have attempted to, and about 6% have taken their own lives

Causes and Risk Factors

Causes and Risk Factors for Schizophrenia

Several genetic and environmental risk factors can play a role in the development of schizophrenia, including the following:

  • A history of mental illness in the family, especially immediate family
  • Distress during birth (for example, a lack of oxygen at childbirth)
  • Individuals with older fathers
  • Mother experiencing stress, diabetes or infections during pregnancy
  • Individuals who were undernourished when in the womb
  • A history of other personality disorders such as schizotypal or paranoid personality disorders
  • Living in an urban area

Signs & Symptoms

Signs and Symptoms of Schizophrenia

The signs and symptoms of schizophrenia can vary from person to person. Schizophrenic symptoms are separated into three categories, which are described below:

Positive symptoms:

These symptoms occur when an individual behaves in a manner that exceeds what is perceived as normal, such as:

  • Irrational methods of talking or speech
  • Unusual behaviors
  • Having delusions or improbable beliefs
  • Having hallucinations, or feeling, hearing, seeing, or smelling things that are not real

Negative symptoms:

Negative symptoms occur when an individual ceases to behave in what is considered a normal manner, such as the following:

  • No expression of emotions
  • Incapable of experiencing or feeling pleasure
  • Ignoring regular tasks and activities
  • Lack of communication or inability to form speech
  • Lack of movements and/or being immobile
  • Foregoing hygiene and cleanliness

Cognitive symptoms:

Cognitive symptoms affect one’s ability to think, plan, and make decisions. They include:

  • Having difficulty making decisions and planning
  • Having difficulty concentrating, or being unable to concentrate at all
  • Problems with memory, being forgetful
  • Inability to remember common tasks and items

Lasting Effects

Effects of Schizophrenia

If treatment is not obtained for schizophrenia, the effects that its presence can cause can include the following:

  • Loss of home and basic necessities
  • Depression, fear, and anxiety
  • Failure to maintain work or look for work
  • Loss of income
  • Disregard for medical needs
  • Substance use or substance abuse
  • Dangerous behavior that can harm either the individual or others
  • Inability to handle and control finances
  • Suicidal tendencies
  • Inability to socialize
  • Disregard for family and friends
  • Conflict in personal relationships with others
  • Paranoia

Co-Occurring Disorders

Co-Occurring Substance Abuse or Mental Health Issues

It is extremely common for someone with schizophrenia to also experience one or more mental illnesses at the same time. This is known as having a co-occurring disorder. Some of the most common mental illnesses that those with schizophrenia can experience can include the following:

  • Schizotypal disorder
  • Paranoid personality disorder
  • Substance use disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Anxiety disorders
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