Schizophrenia is a lasting mental health disorder. It causes problems with the way a person thinks, feels, and acts.
Schizophrenia affects many areas of the brain.
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The cause is not clear. Genetic and environmental risk factors are thought to play a role.
Things that may raise the risk of this problem are:
- Having family members with schizophrenia
- Trauma during childhood, such as abuse, death of a parent, or bullying
- Personal or family history of migration
- Marijuana or other drug use
- Having a father who is 55 years or older at the time of birth
- Problems during pregnancy or birth
Symptoms usually start when a person is in their late teens to mid-30s. Schizophrenia is rare in children.
Problems begin slowly and worsen over time. They get in the way of relationships, school, and work. Common problems are:
- Hearing things that are not there
- Having strange beliefs that are not based in reality
- Disorganized thinking, speech, and behavior
- Withdrawal from others
- Flat speech and a lack of facial expression
- Problems feeling pleasure
A doctor will ask about symptoms and physical and mental health past. A loved one or caregiver may be asked for this information if you cannot provide it. A physical exam will be done. A psychological exam may also be done. This may be enough to make the diagnosis.
There is no cure. The goal of treatment is to manage symptoms and slow the disorder. Antipsychotic medicine is the main form of treatment. The exact choice of medicine can be adjusted for each persons needs. Some are taken by mouth, others can be given as a long term injection. Other steps that may help include:
- Support program to address concerns like such as social skills training, family therapy, and support groups
- Crisis management plan—to help identify signs of recurrence and have support ready to help
- Hospitalization for severe symptoms
- Regular exercise and yoga
There are no current guidelines to prevent schizophrenia. The exact cause is not known.
National Alliance on Mental Illness
National Institute of Mental Health
Canadian Psychiatric Association
Mental Health Canada
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Schizophrenia. National Institute of Mental Health website. Available at: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/schizophrenia/index.shtml. Accessed September 2, 2020.
Last reviewed March 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Adrian Preda, MD Last Updated: 2/19/2021