What is Schizophrenia, and How Does it Affect Someone?

Published On: January 5, 2024Categories: Mental Health

Schizophrenia is a complex mental disorder that still evokes confusion, apprehension and curiosity in mental health professionals to this day.

Affecting millions of people in the United States every year, this disorder continues to present a myriad of challenges not only for the individuals suffering directly but their families and society as a whole. 

In this article, we’re going to take a closer look at schizophrenia, the main causes and symptoms of this mental disorder, as well as steps to take if you think you’re suffering from it.

What is schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a serious mental disorder that’s characterized by impacting the behavior of a person, affecting their thoughts, emotions, perceptions, and actions. Because of this, the question “is schizophrenia a personality disorder?” is sometimes asked — the answer is no.

It is a mental disorder that causes an individual to interpret reality abnormally, often making it difficult for them to determine which experiences are real and which are imagined. The exact ways that schizophrenia affects the brain are still not fully understood, it’s known to lend to structural abnormalities which create additional complications, neurochemical imbalances and more.

This disorder produces “psychotic” or “manic” episodes involving delusions (believing things that aren’t true), extreme behavior, hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren’t real), and frantic thoughts or speech. These experiences can be frightening, confusing, isolating and extremely disruptive to a person’s life, and can become worse without proper treatment.

Those struggling with schizophrenia often experience challenges with continuing work or school responsibilities, maintaining relationships, keeping a schedule or taking care of themselves. Without the assistance of consistent treatment and professional support, this disorder can wreak havoc on a person’s life. 

Are there different types of schizophrenia?

Yes, there are different types of schizophrenia. This is a complex mental disorder that doesn’t manifest in any one way in people, and different subtypes depend on the kind and severity of symptoms the individual is experiencing.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is the go-to handbook for healthcare professionals specializing in mental health illnesses and disorders. The DSM criteria for schizophrenia revolves around certain core symptoms, but in the present day, fitting the DSM criteria is just one part of the picture. 

Physicians now assess the specific nature and severity of an individual’s symptoms, rather than limiting a patient’s diagnosis based on the DSM, which does not formally recognize subtypes.

Signs and symptoms

Symptoms will vary from person to person, and can even change over time. The contributing factors that led to the development or exacerbation of the disorder will be different per individual, depending on the specific contributing factors in your life.

That being said, the most common symptoms of schizophrenia include:

  • Believing thoughts or emotions that aren’t based in reality
  • Seeing or hearing things that do not exist
  • Highly disorganized thoughts and speech
  • Difficulty communicating, or physical difficulty speaking 
  • Abnormal or erratic physical behavior (excessive, risky, inappropriate, repetitive)
  • Hindered ability to function normally daily

When it comes to understanding a person’s symptoms, it’s important to look at the full spectrum of their life and health to better identify the root causes of the mental disorder.

What causes schizophrenia?

The causes of schizophrenia are vast and multifaceted, depending on the person. There’s no one universal cause of this mental disorder, and the unique history and health of each individual will be impacted by different factors that are specific to their life.

Some of these potential contributing factors include:

  • Genetic components, like hereditary influence
  • Neurological and chemical imbalances
  • Structural abnormalities in the brain
  • Prenatal or maternal factors (malnutrition, infection, stress during pregnancy)
  • Psychological stressors, such as chronic stress or trauma
  • Chronic drug or alcohol use
  • Environmental factors, like pollution

The impact of diet and nutrition on schizophrenia is also largely debated, but is increasingly being proven through ongoing research and clinicals. The connection stems from poor diet-creating neuroinflammation that contributes to the development and exacerbation of symptoms.

Knowing where to begin with improving your mental and physical health, especially when impacted by a disorder like schizophrenia, can be challenging to navigate. Let us help you.

Start your recovery today

Tapestry is a premier behavioral health treatment center that specializes in helping men and women of all ages overcome their various mental and behavioral challenges.

Here at Tapestry, our treatment revolves around healing the whole person, rather than attempting to isolate their symptoms from the rest of their health. Your mind, body and soul are all connected, and treatment should take into consideration every area of your life to be most effective in the short- and long-term.

To speak with one of our qualified advisors and learn more about which of our programs is the right fit for your specific needs, send us a message or give us a call today at 828-490-4032.

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