Schizophrenia (a psychiatric illness)

General or Other | Psychiatry | Schizophrenia (a psychiatric illness) (Disease)


Schizophrenia is a mental disorder characterized by a breakdown of thought processes and by poor emotional responsiveness. It most commonly manifests itself as auditory hallucinations, paranoid or bizarre delusions, or disorganized speech and thinking, and it is accompanied by significant social or occupational dysfunction.

Causes and Risk factors

It is difficult to identify the causes of schizophrenia, but research suggests that several physical, genetic, psychological and environmental factors interact and make people more likely to develop the condition. Current thinking is that some people may be prone to schizophrenia, but sometimes a stressful or emotional life event might trigger a psychotic episode. However, it is not known why some people develop symptoms while others do not.

There are some risk factors for schizophrenia that you cannot change. These include genetics, brain development, neurotransmitters, infection, pregnancy and birth complications, head injury, triggers.

Diagnosis and Treatment

There is currently no physical or lab test that can absolutely diagnose schizophrenia - a psychiatrist usually comes to the diagnosis based on clinical symptoms. What physical testing can do is rule out a lot of other conditions (seizure disorders, metabolic disorders, thyroid disfunction, brain tumor, street drug use, etc) that sometimes have similar symptoms.

People diagnosed with schizophrenia usually experience a combination of positive (i. e. hallucinations, delusions, racing thoughts), negative (i. e. apathy, lack of emotion, poor or nonexistant social functioning), and cognitive (disorganized thoughts, difficulty concentrating and/or following instructions, difficulty completing tasks, memory problems).

There are two main classifications of medications (from a laymans perspective) the traditional antipsychotic medications (Haldol, etc. ), and the newer, atypical antipsychotic medications that have come out in the past decade (Clozapine, Geodon, Seroquel, Risperdal, Zyprexa, Abilify, etc. )