Schizophrenia is a long-term psychiatric disorder that causes social withdrawal, hallucinations, delusions and disability. Schizophrenia affects over two million Americans, roughly one percent of the U.S. population.
The symptoms of schizophrenia generally begin in young adulthood, and symptoms can intensify slowly and gradually. Onset of schizophrenia in women is often later than in men.
Symptoms Types in Schizophrenia
In the past, psychologists recognized five categories of schizophrenia symptoms: catatonic, disorganized, paranoid, residual, and undifferentiated. Today, however, experts have found the following three groupings more effective:
- Positive Symptoms: These symptoms involve hallucinations and delusional thinking; they are also called ‘psychotic symptoms.’ The term ‘positive’ refers to the fact that these are ‘added’ traits that do not occur in healthy people.
- Negative Symptoms: These symptoms occur when characteristics of healthy individuals are conspicuously missing from a person with schizophrenia. Loss of pleasure, a deeply negative outlook: both are negative symptoms that may arise from depression.
- Cognitive Symptoms: These symptoms impair a person’s rational thinking skills. Difficulties with concentration and memory lapses are examples of cognitive symptoms in schizophrenia.
Possible Causes of Schizophrenia
Scientists still do not understand the cause of schizophrenia. Some likely suspects include:
- Brain Chemistry and Structure: Schizophrenia may occur when the brain develops the wrong ‘wiring’ to process information.
- Genetics: Having one relative with schizophrenia increases everyone in the family’s risk of developing the disease.
- Environmental Factors: Some experts are investigating how complications affecting the fetus in the womb might influence schizophrenia.
Do you or someone you love have schizophrenia? Help us push schizophrenia research forward; see if you qualify for Segal Institute’s clinical research study on schizophrenia today!
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