What is Schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia is a severe brain disorder which affects about one percent of the population. Those with schizophrenia may hear voices or have delusions. They also may sit for long periods of time without moving or talking.
New research shows a number of potential causes, ranging from genetics, the brain’s chemical makeup and substance abuse.
For those with schizophrenia, hallucinations and delusions may first start between the ages of 16 and 30. Men tend to experience symptoms a little earlier than women. It is rare for schizophrenia to be diagnosed in someone after age 45, rare in children and can be difficult to diagnose in teenagers.
About four percent of those with schizophrenia are diagnosed after age 65. Whether diagnosed earlier or late-onset, schizophrenia in older patients may include more disruptive behavior.
While people diagnosed with schizophrenia often have recurring bouts throughout their lives, the National Institutes of Health reports that researchers are making progress in new treatments and different ways to diagnose the disorder.
Schizo-affective disorder is a chronic mental health condition that features bouts of schizophrenia with a mood disorder such as depression.
Treatments for schizophrenia focus on eliminating symptoms.
What are the Symptoms of Schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia in its early stages may share some of the same symptoms with other forms of mental illness: withdrawing, irritability, a change in grades or friends. The National Alliance on Mental Illness reports that schizophrenia will have the following symptoms present for at least six months:
Hallucinations: Hearing voices, seeing or smelling things that others can’t perceive.
Delusions: A false belief that does not change when confronted with facts.
Negative symptoms: May include being flat or dull and disconnected.
Cognitive issues/disorganized thinking: Difficulty remembering things or organizing thoughts.