Mental Illnesses and Disorders

What is Schizophrenia?

A mental disorder often characterized by abnormal social behaviour and failure to recognize what is real. The disorder is a mystery, a puzzle with missing pieces that has been affecting people throughout history. This complex illness affects a person's ability to distinguish between what is reality and what is not. The brain sends perceptions along the wrong path, leading to the wrong conclusions. People with schizophrenia are affected with delusions and hallucinations and without the proper treatment their disorder can take control of their life.

Symptoms and Signs

The symptoms of schizophrenia are generally divided into three categories: positive, negative and cognitive symptoms.

Positive symptoms are also known as "psychotic" symptoms because the person has lost touch with reality in certain ways. These include:

  • Hallucinations- causes a person to hear voices inside or outside their heads or see things that do not exist.
  • Delusions occur when someone believes ideas that are clearly false, such as that people are reading their thoughts or that they can control other people's minds.

Negative symptoms refer to change in emotion, such as motivation. Negative symptoms often include lack of expressiveness, an inability to start and follow through with tasks, speech that is brief and a lack of pleasure or interest in life. Negative symptoms can also be confused with clinical depression.

Cognitive symptoms pertain to thinking processes. People living with schizophrenia often struggle with functioning in their daily life, memory and organizing thoughts. A cognitive symptom that is common with this disorder is denial of the disorder.


The causes of schizophrenia are still unclear. Some theories of this disease include: genetics, biology and possible viral infections.

Genetics: Scientists recognize that the disorder tends to run in families and that a person inherits a tendency to develop the disease.

Viral/Immune: Schizophrenia may also be triggered by environment, such as viral infections or highly stressful situations or a combination of both.

Biology: Similar to some other genetically-related illnesses, schizophrenia appears when the body undergoes hormonal and physical changes, like those that occur during puberty in the teen and young adult years.

Chemistry: People with schizophrenia have an imbalance of brain chemicals (serotonin and dopamine) which are neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters allow nerve cells in the brain to send messages to each other. The imbalance of these chemicals affects the way a person’s brain reacts to stimuli. This is why one may be overwhelmed by sensory information (sound and light) which other people can easily handle.

Big image

How Schizophrenia Affects Others

Schizophrenia affects everyone around the person who has the illness. It can be hard to watch a family member or friend develop symptoms and perhaps act in very different ways. You may feel helpless, but you play an important role in the life and treatment of a loved one who has. Family members may have difficulty communicating effectively with those who are distracted by delusions or hallucinations. Seeing your loved one talking to him/herself or responding to unseen stimuli can be frightening and confusing. People with schizophrenia may experience stigma and discrimination, and may have physical health problems related to their mental illness and psychiatric medications. However, people with schizophrenia can recover fully, and even if they continue to experience psychiatric symptoms or medication side effects they can lead full and meaningful lives.

Getting Help and Treatment!

Schizophrenia requires lifelong treatment, even when symptoms have subsided. Treatment with medications and psychosocial therapy can help manage the condition.A psychiatrist experienced in treating schizophrenia usually guides treatment.

Medications: Medications are the basis of schizophrenia treatment. However, because medications for schizophrenia can cause serious but rare side effects, people with schizophrenia may be reluctant to take them. Antipsychotic medications are the most commonly prescribed drugs to treat schizophrenia. They're thought to control symptoms by affecting the brain neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin.

Psychosocial interventions: psychological and social interventions are important in addition to continuing on medication. These may include:

  • Individual therapy. Learning to cope with stress and identify early warning signs of relapse can help people with schizophrenia manage their illness.
  • Social skills training. This focuses on improving communication and social interactions.
  • Family therapy. This provides support and education to families dealing with schizophrenia.
  • Supported employment. This focuses on helping people with schizophrenia prepare for, find and keep jobs.

Most individuals with schizophrenia require some form of daily living support. Many communities have programs to help people with schizophrenia with jobs, housing, self-help groups and crisis situations. With appropriate treatment, most people with schizophrenia can manage their condition.

Sources and Work Cited

(n.d.). Retrieved January 10, 2016, from

Schizophrenia Society of Canada | Improving mental health in Canada. (n.d.). Retrieved January 10, 2016, from

Schizophrenia. (n.d.). Retrieved January 10, 2016, from

Schizophrenia: Treatment & Care. (n.d.). Retrieved January 10, 2016, from

Schizophrenia: Facts on Types, Treatment and Symptoms. (n.d.). Retrieved January 10, 2016, from