Schizophrenia is a serious disorder that causes individuals to feel out of touch with reality which can dramatically inhibit their daily functioning. It can cause the individual affected to experience hallucinations, delusions, cognitive issues, and other symptoms. Schizophrenia is commonly diagnosed in the late teens to mid-twenties for males, and in the late twenties to early thirties for females.
Less than 1% of adults in the U.S. are diagnosed with schizophrenia, so it’s not a common diagnosis. While somewhat unique, with a combination of the right medications, psychotherapy, social support, and other strategies, individuals can successfully manage their illness and live fulfilling lives.
Symptoms of Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia can have a variety of different symptoms. Experiencing these symptoms may indicate that you have schizophrenia:
- Hallucinations. Hearing voices or seeing things that aren’t there, though they seem real to the person experiencing them.
- Delusions. Holding false beliefs that have no basis in reality.
- Disorganized thinking or speech. Having difficulty communicating or thinking clearly, or being unable to complete normal activities.
- Negative Symptoms. This refers to symptoms that impair the ability to function socially and emotionally. You may speak or feel flat, lose interest in life, or be unable to function in daily life.
Individuals with schizophrenia may not recognize that what they are experiencing is unusual. If you or a friend or family member is experiencing these symptoms, reach out to your doctor or mental health professional. If you believe the situation is an emergency, contact your local crisis number, the National Suicide Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, or call 911. Find Minnesota mental health crisis numbers here.
What Can Cause Schizophrenia?
- Genetics. Schizophrenia can run in families. The likelihood of developing schizophrenia is higher if a family member has it. Scientists believe that a combination of different genes increase the risk of a person developing schizophrenia.
- Environmental factors. Studies suggest that exposure to viruses or malnutrition before birth can increase one’s likelihood of developing schizophrenia. Using mind-altering drugs, especially when young, can also be a risk factor.
- Brain chemistry. Differences in brain chemistry, especially involving neurotransmitters, can increase the likelihood of developing schizophrenia.
How is Schizophrenia Treated?
There are many treatments for schizophrenia. The good news is that people with schizophrenia can and do manage their symptoms and live fulfilling lives.
- Medications. Antipsychotic medications are the most commonly prescribed medications to treat schizophrenia. Your provider will work with you to determine what works best for you.
- Psychosocial treatments. This can include psychotherapy, social or behavioral skills training, family therapy, or supported employment. The goal of these treatments is to help you cope with your symptoms, facilitate everyday living, and help you reach your goals.
In emergency situations, hospitalization or inpatient residential treatment may be needed.
How to Get Help
If you have signs or symptoms of schizophrenia, reach out to your doctor or a mental health professional. They will help you determine the next steps towards treatment.
Individuals with schizophrenia may struggle to realize they have the illness. If you believe a friend or family member is experiencing symptoms of schizophrenia, encouraging them to seek treatment is important. If you aren’t sure where to start, call our Community Access team at (651) 925-8490 and a trained professional can provide support, education, and consultation on your unique situation.
Guild Can Help
At Guild, we witness individuals with schizophrenia manage their symptoms, reach their goals, and live the lives they want to live. If you are looking for services related to schizophrenia, Guild can help. Call our Community Access team at 651-925-8490 to discuss your situation and eligibility requirements.
Schizophrenia Symptoms and Causes, Mayo Clinic.
Schizophrenia Diagnosis and Treatment, Mayo Clinic.
Schizophrenia, National Institute of Mental Health.
Schizophrenia, National Alliance on Mental Illness.
Mental Health by the Numbers, National Alliance on Mental Illness.