Understanding the signs, symptoms, and effects of schizophrenia is an important part of the effort to get help for yourself or your loved one. At Rio Vista Behavioral Health in El Paso, Texas, we’re proud to be a source of information and comprehensive care for adolescents and adults who have been struggling with schizophrenia.
Learn about schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is a complex form of mental illness. The symptoms of schizophrenia can affect thoughts and behaviors. People who develop schizophrenia may struggle to understand and interact with their environment. This disorder can significantly undermine a person’s ability to live a healthy, productive, and satisfying life.
Symptoms of schizophrenia typically first appear during late adolescence or early adulthood. The majority of people who develop schizophrenia have their first symptoms between the ages of 16 and 25.
Common symptoms of schizophrenia include hallucinations (hearing or seeing things that do not exist) and delusions (beliefs that have no connection to reality). Adolescents and adults who suffer from schizophrenia may also have disorganized speech and behavior patterns, as well as a lack of motivation and an inability to express emotions.
Complicating the matter even further, many people who develop schizophrenia are not able to recognize or understand their disorder. This symptom, which is known by the clinical term “amosognosia,” can delay or otherwise disrupt a person’s ability to get effective professional care.
The good news is that when a person does receive proper professional help for schizophrenia, they can experience significant improvements in their quality of life. Schizophrenia is a treatable condition. With the right type and level of care, people who have been struggling with schizophrenia can live much happier and more satisfying lives.
Statistics about schizophrenia
The following statistics about schizophrenia were collected by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and the Schizophrenia and Related Disorders Alliance of America (SRDAA):
- Within the United States, experts estimate that schizophrenia affects 0.25%-0.64% of the population.
- Globally, the prevalence of schizophrenia is estimated to be 1.1% of the population.
- About 50% of people who have schizophrenia also develop one or more additional mental or behavioral health disorders.
- About 75% of people who have schizophrenia begin to experience symptoms of the disorder when they are between the ages of 16 and 25.
- About 4.9% of people who have schizophrenia die by suicide.
- Experts estimate that about 50% of people who have schizophrenia have never received professional care for this disorder
Causes and risk factors for schizophrenia
Research has not yet revealed a definitive cause of schizophrenia. However, decades of study have identified certain genetic and environmental factors that can influence a person’s likelihood for developing this disorder. The following are among the potential causes of and risk factors for schizophrenia:
- Family history of schizophrenia
- Gender (schizophrenia is more common among men than among women)
- Certain complications during pregnancy and birth
- Prenatal malnutrition
- Abnormalities in brain structure or chemistry
- Exposure to certain viruses
- Growing up in an urban environment
Symptoms of schizophrenia
A person who develops schizophrenia may experience a variety of behavioral and mental challenges, as well as certain physical limitations. The following are among the more common signs and symptoms of schizophrenia:
- Disorganized or incoherent speech patterns
- Speaking in a flat or monotone voice
- Disorganized or catatonic behaviors
- Diminished self-care
- Withdrawing from family and friends
- Ceasing to participate in significant activities
- Acting with uncharacteristic hostility or aggression
- Failing to understand others’ intentions or reply appropriately to social cues
- Flat, expressionless appearance
- Inhibited motor skills
- Delayed cognitive processing
- Auditory and visual hallucinations
- Delusions (believing things that have no basis in reality)
- Dramatic mood shifts
- Memory problems
- Diminished attention span
- Depersonalization (feeling as though you are detached from your body)
- Derealization (feeling as though you are detached from the world around you)
- Lack of motivation
Effects of schizophrenia
A person who develops schizophrenia but does not receive appropriate professional care for this disorder may be at risk for a wide range of negative outcomes. Untreated schizophrenia can have a devastating impact on a person’s ability to live a healthy, productive, and satisfying life. The potential effects of untreated schizophrenia include the following:
- Family discord
- Difficulties forming and maintaining healthy relationships
- Substandard performance in school
- Chronic unemployment
- Financial difficulties
- Health problems related to impaired decision-making and poor self-care
- Physical injuries related to aggressive, impulsive, or violent behaviors
- Onset or worsening of mental health symptoms
- Substance abuse and addiction
- Social withdrawal and isolation
- Suicidal ideation
- Suicidal behaviors
It is important to note that the effects of schizophrenia listed above are not unavoidable. When a person receives proper professional care for schizophrenia and any co-occurring conditions, their ability to live a healthier life increases exponentially. Receiving care for schizophrenia limits the likelihood of future harm while also allowing a person to begin to heal from past damage. When you or your loved one gets necessary help for schizophrenia, life can get much better.
Common co-occurring disorders among people who have schizophrenia
People who develop schizophrenia may also have an elevated risk for various other mental health disorders, including the following:
- Anxiety disorders
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Panic disorder
- Schizotypal personality disorder
- Paranoid personality disorder
- Substance use disorders