Schizophrenia is a mental illness that affects how the brain works. People with schizophrenia experience psychosis, which means they can have serious problems with thinking clearly, emotions, and knowing what is real and what is not.
This can include hearing or seeing things that are not there (hallucinations), and having very strange beliefs that are abnormal or not true (delusions).
Having psychosis often makes a person want to keep away from other people. They may have problems understanding other people’s emotions, and may feel depressed or irritable.
Other illnesses similar to schizophrenia include schizoaffective disorder and schizophreniform disorder.
While there is currently no cure for schizophrenia, it can be treated effectively with medication and psychological treatment.
What causes schizophrenia?
The causes of schizophrenia are not yet fully understood.
Some things that make it more likely that someone will develop schizophrenia are:
- having particular genes
- physical injuries to the brain
- traumatic experiences
- using drugs such as cannabis
Like many other illnesses, schizophrenia runs in families. People with a parent, brother or sister who has schizophrenia have a higher chance of developing schizophrenia. However, most people who have a family member with schizophrenia will not develop the illness themselves.
Symptoms of schizophrenia
Symptoms vary from person to person, and commonly include:
- hearing or seeing things that are not real (hallucinations)
- having very strange beliefs (delusions)
- unusual thinking and speech
- having problems thinking clearly
- not being able to make decisions and having trouble making plans
- having trouble interpreting other people’s emotions and motives
- Suicidal thoughts
Some symptoms are described as ‘positive’ and others as ‘negative’.
Common ‘positive’ symptoms are hallucinations and delusions. (These are called ‘positive’ because they are extra experiences that are not part of normal experience).
Common ‘negative’ symptoms are: a loss of enjoyment of things, being unable to feel emotions, loss of interest in being with other people, and not being bothered to do anything. (These are called ‘negative’ because something is missing).
How is schizophrenia diagnosed?
Psychiatrists diagnose schizophrenia based on a person’s symptoms and behaviour. They will only make a diagnosis after they have spent time with the person, carefully collected information and considered other possible causes.
Getting the correct diagnosis can be difficult and take time. Having hallucinations or delusions does not mean a person definitely has schizophrenia. Other medical conditions and other mental illnesses can cause similar symptoms.
There is no test for schizophrenia and no special sign that proves someone has it.
Tests such as brain scans are sometimes needed, to make sure the symptoms are not caused by other brain problems or medical conditions.
Treatment of Schizophrenia
The best treatment for schizophrenia is a combination of medication, psychological treatment and community support.
At Hellodoc, we have Psychiatrists and Psychologists who can assess, diagnose, and manage Schizophrenia and related conditions.
If you and your loved ones need assessment, please contact us after obtaining a referral from your GP.
The information on this website is NOT a substitute for proper diagnosis, treatment or the provision of advice by an appropriate health professional. Please speak to your doctor for advice about your situation. HelloDoc is not liable for any consequences arising from relying on this information.