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Schizophrenia: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment



Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that affects how a person thinks, acts, and feels. It's an illness that causes people to lose touch with reality gradually. It usually starts in young adulthood but can occur at any age. Schizophrenia has no cure. However, some medications can help treat symptoms and may reduce the risk of suicide for people with schizophrenia. Let's look at the symptoms, causes, and treatment options available for those with schizophrenia. 




Symptoms of schizophrenia include:


  • Hallucinations - hearing, seeing, feeling, or smelling things that are not there.
  • Delusions - false beliefs about reality that cannot be explained by normal means. For example, a person with schizophrenia might believe they have superpowers and can fly like Superman, that someone is out to get them, or the world is conspiring against them. 
  • Disorganized speech patterns and thought content may range from simple word finding difficulties to difficulty forming sentences entirely on their own but are still understandable enough for others to follow what they're saying. 
  • Disorganized or catatonic behaviour - not being able to organize one's thoughts because of hallucinations and delusions, or a complete lack thereof. Sometimes this may be followed by periods where there is no movement for hours.


It's essential to recognize that there are two major categories of symptoms in schizophrenia: positive signs and negative symptoms. Positive symptoms include auditory and visual hallucinations, delusions, and disorganized speech, while negative symptoms include loss of motivation, lack of emotional expression, or interest in social interactions.




Here’s a list of the most common types of schizophrenia

  • Paranoid


This type of schizophrenia is characterized by delusions, hallucinations, suspiciousness, or even paranoia. The individual may also be aggressive and have difficulty sleeping.

  • Disorganized


Individuals with this type of schizophrenia exhibit extreme emotional instability, resulting in disorganized thinking patterns that make it difficult for them to carry out daily activities like bathing or eating meals. 


Some individuals may experience periods of psychosis (a loss of contact with reality) called "psychotic episodes." This can happen when your brain chemistry gets out of balance due to stress or illness. During these episodes, you may lose touch with reality and experience hallucinations—visual images that aren't real but seem real to you—or delusions—false ideas about things. 

  • Catatonic 


This type can include catatonic excitement (agitation with no apparent cause) or catatonic stupor (an inability to move). Catatonic schizophrenia consists of these symptoms and other psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations and delusions.

  • Undifferentiated


This type combines catatonic, paranoid, disorganized, and residual schizophrenia symptoms.

  • Residual


In this type of schizophrenia, you've had at least one episode of psychosis in the past but currently do not experience any psychotic symptoms. You may still have negative emotions such as depression or anxiety.




There are many causes of schizophrenia. Some of the most common include:


  • Genetics - Schizophrenia is inherited in about half of cases, meaning it's partly due to genetics and also partly due to lifestyle factors like diet, exercise, and other environmental factors. If you have a family member with schizophrenia or another mental disorder, you may also inherit some risk of developing this condition.
  • Environment - While genetics play a role in causing schizophrenia, many other factors can increase your chances of developing it (for example: if you have an abusive childhood). These include stress from school or work (or other life events), drug abuse or trauma experienced before birth, such as during birth itself; maternal smoking during pregnancy; lackadaisical parenting style, and low socioeconomic status, among other things. 
  • Brain chemistry - Abnormalities in the levels of various neurotransmitters in your brain may contribute to developing schizophrenia. Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that relay signals between nerve cells and other parts of your body. They include serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, among others.
  • Brain structure - A change in brain structure may also play a role in causing schizophrenia. For example, studies have shown that people with this disorder tend to have enlarged ventricles (tiny sacs near the centre of the brain that hold cerebrospinal fluid) and decreased volume in some areas of grey matter (which contains nerve cells).  
  • Pregnancy and birth complications - Complications during pregnancy or at birth may increase the risk of schizophrenia in children. Examples include exposure to influenza, viruses, or malnutrition during pregnancy; being born in winter or spring; being held at a low birth weight (less than 5 1/2 pounds), and experiencing a lack of oxygen at birth (oxygen deprivation).




Schizophrenia treatment is a combination of medication, psychotherapy, and other types of therapy. Medication can help you to feel more relaxed, focused, and able to think clearly. Psychotherapy enables you to develop skills that will help you deal with problems in your life.


Other types of therapy may be necessary for people with schizophrenia or other mental health conditions such as bipolar disorder or depression (although these disorders are not directly related to the severity of the symptoms). 


This includes group therapy sessions where patients meet regularly with others with similar problems; family therapy meetings where parents and relatives talk about how they feel about having someone diagnosed with schizophrenia. 


Occupational therapy specialists work with people who need help getting back into work after being out due to their condition. Cognitive behavioural therapists focus on changing negative thought patterns, which affect behaviour patterns leading up to behaviours like speaking out loud when no one else hears them say something rude without meaning to!  


Rehabilitation services include physical rehabilitation programs explicitly designed to help patients regain lost muscle mass while coping mentally through counselling sessions conducted by psychologists working closely alongside physical therapists to treat any injuries incurred during the treatment process.


   Bottom Line 


Schizophrenia is a severe mental illness that affects millions of people worldwide. If you think someone you may know has the condition, it's essential to know that there are treatments available that can help control symptoms and make life more manageable.

Dr. Shantanu Bharti
Meet The Doctor
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