Category: 

What is Schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a mental illness that impairs an individual's ability to correctly percieve reality.
Article Details
  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 27 September 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
  • Print this Article
Free Widgets for your Site/Blog
A walnut can be used to remove furniture scratches.  more...

October 1 ,  1890 :  Yosemite National Park was established.  more...

Schizophrenia is a mental illness that impairs one’s ability to perceive reality. It is often confused with split personality, to which it is not at all similar. Rather, those with schizophrenia can suffer from delusional thinking that can impair behavior and ability to live a normal and functional life.

Schizophrenia most often develops in young adults in their late teens. It is equally prevalent among males and females. Very rarely, schizophrenia may occur in early childhood. Additionally, late onset schizophrenia may occur in the elderly, possibly tied to dementia from Alzheimer’s disease, though this is not always the case. Most often, however, an older teen that has seemed relatively fine and healthy will begin to exhibit symptoms of the illness. Symptoms vary in prevalence and in persistence, and are a way of diagnosing different types of the illness.

Symptoms are organized into three classes, positive, disorganized, and negative. Positive does not refer to “good” in this case. Positive symptoms include delusions and hallucinations. Delusions usually separate into those of grandeur and those of persecution. Those suffering from schizophrenia may believe that they are invincible or all-powerful and thus cannot be hurt. This can cause them to act in ways that are dangerous to themselves or others. Conversely, those affected may believe that others are plotting against them, or that there is a subversive tendency by those around them to somehow harm the schizophrenic.

Ad

Hallucinations are often present and fuel delusions. The schizophrenic may hear voices that are not there. They may also see things that don’t exist. These additional voices or visions may cause the schizophrenic to feel helplessly trapped, as he or she cannot distinguish between what is real and what is not real.

Disorganized symptoms of schizophrenia include difficulties communicating. Speech may be impaired or unintelligible. The schizophrenic may have conversations with someone only he or she can see. Impaired vocal expression is often accompanied by repetitive movements, pacing, or walking in circles.

Negative does not really mean “negative” but rather "not present." A schizophrenic may have a flat tone that expresses no interest whatsoever in conversation. Speech may be very trite, and really mean little. Inability to follow through with activities and a persistent disinterest in life may exist.

There are five subtypes of schizophrenia, based on the severity or lack of the above symptoms. Catatonic schizophrenics seem to move very little, and mostly exhibit what we would term disorganized symptoms. Disorganized schizophrenia tends to have primarily negative and disorganized symptoms. Paranoid schizophrenia is characterized by positive symptoms and lack of disorganized or negative symptoms. Residual schizophrenia has positive symptoms at low intensity. Undifferentiated schizophrenia shows positive symptoms, but does not show total negative or disorganized symptoms.

In many cases, schizophrenia can respond well to drug therapy. Often, when people with schizophrenia are first diagnosed, they may require psychiatric hospitalization to start a medication regimen and help stabilize their condition. Medication, like anti-psychotics, can help alleviate some but not all symptoms. The patient is also taught to recognize that the brain will still produce some positive symptoms, and that these should be ignored.

Once some of the symptoms are under control, those with schizophrenia need ongoing therapy and support, often employing cognitive behavioral techniques to help cope with what will be a lifelong illness. There is no specific cure for schizophrenia, there are simply methods to help reduce symptoms and cope with the condition. For about 1/3 of all patients, even these methods may not provide enough relief to function in society, and some people with very severe forms of schizophrenia will require lifelong care or hospitalization.

Unfortunately, most anti-psychotic medications can have significant long-term side effects, causing obesity, difference in gait, and Parkinson like symptoms after a long period of use. Researchers are attempting to develop new medications and delivery methods that may prove more effective, yet this illness remains a challenging one to treat and to live with.

Ad

More from Wisegeek

You might also Like

Discuss this Article

anon927194
Post 49

I thought the government was after me for years. I hear voices frequently. Every place I go I feel like everybody is watching me or after me. I've had nervous breakdowns in public. I feel like the government has cameras set up all around my room. It wasn't until I went to a bar around a bunch of people with similar tastes as myself that I realized I'm really weird and messed up and something is going on. I've been institutionalized three times. It's now time to get this taken care of.

Maybe gang stalking is real. I don't know. But either way, without help and guidance, we are going to ruin our lives and relationships so its best to try to get help. If it works, great. If it doesn't oh well. I'm going to start therapy soon and hopefully get on some drug that works. If it does, great. If it doesn't, well I'll keep trying. It's not normal to feel like you're being followed and watched and stalked 24 7 everywhere you go. Having nervous breakdowns and freaking out is not normal even if I were being stalked and followed.

I wish all of you the best of luck. I promise I'm just like you. I'm going through the same thing. Even right now I feel like my neighbors or somebody is watching me or spying on my computer. It's insane. So yeah, I'm going to try to take a pill to cool off.

anon344124
Post 44

My son paces too. It could be a side effect of the drugs he is on, or he could have a severe form of akathisia. My son has worn through six pairs of shoes in a year. Some doctors do not seem to acknowledge the distress and torment that this causes. Good luck.

anon325909
Post 42

Please stop insisting that we all should listen to the word of god or some crap like that. I'm atheist and would really appreciate if you could consider the fact that not everyone is open to god or wants to hear about him. Second, what the hell is wrong with being gay? I'm bi-sexual. There is nothing wrong with being gay or bi. I don't know why but society has planted a crazy idea into your heads that being gay is wrong or some crap. Being gay doesn't mean you're a bad person, and it's not wrong. Accepting that you're gay means accepting yourself, and you shouldn't care what others think because as long as you accept who you are because you were born that way (lady gaga moment), and you're happy, then what other people think shouldn't matter anyway.

anon325904
Post 41

@anon300128: I'm not schizophrenic. I'm bipolar, but I went to a mental hospital twice in April and May last year. It was called Shodair Children's hospital. I'm not sure but I think you have to be under 18 to get into it. I might be wrong there but they have a website, so check it out. It's in Helena, Montana in the United States.

It literally didn't even look or seem like a mental hospital. Everyone there was so nice and they treated you with respect, even though they knew you aren't necessarily considered a normal person in society's eyes. They have wonderful activities to distract you from your problems and great therapy treatments and it's so easy to make friends with the patients and staff there. All in all, it's a great place to be.

anon305013
Post 38

Fear and paranoia of being homosexual is caused by society and culture and it's in no way indicative of schizophrenia. Anxiety and depression disorders can intensify this fear, however. More apparent in the topics of religion and politics, they spam "homosexuality" everywhere by demonizing it, making you actually think about being gay more than you would if they hadn't!

You can easily tell if you're gay by: 1. Noticing you fancy a particular person of the same gender. 2. Getting butterflies when you're near them. 3. Experience a warm feeling in your abdomen that may lead to arousal. 3. Thoughts about them that leads to an innocent blush that makes your face feel on fire. It's the very same as being heterosexual, and you have no control over it. Nobody simply "chooses" to be gay.

If you end up being gay, embrace it. And being gay doesn't mean you have to be all about 'Rainbows and Pride' and come out to everyone you know. Some prefer a more conservative and private lifestyle. Don't let one of the literally thousands of the religions on Earth bully you into thinking you're doomed because of it.

Speaking religiously for a moment, according to most religious teachings across the world: God, in all of His infinite glory, has a plan for us all, and He carries those plans out in mysterious ways. Who's to question God's judgement into saying it's impossible for Him to have wanted homosexuals on this Earth for a greater purpose than society recognizes? If they deny God's judgement and ability to control it, they don't truly believe in Him.

All of this coming from an everyday 24 year old bisexual female from personal experience with both genders and a firm belief in the heavenly manifestation which we know as God. No degree or title needed. Hope this helped any of you questioning your orientation.

anon303743
Post 37

My son turns 17 next week. He is bipolar and has been on Abilify, Limictal and Lithium for years. He is mainstreamed in school but doing poorly. He is a good athlete. He is getting more and more irrational and paranoid. Now his doctors are also concerned from seeing this. We just increased the Limictal but decreased the Abilify. Just sort of venting to see what feedback I get from here.

Baj
Post 35

Our advice to parents/spouses of schizophrenia and bipolar patients, particularly those having hallucinations is to resort to spiritual cleansing. Psychiatrists and scientists still get confused on the actual causes and there is some illogical reasoning saying the brain generates speech. How could a voice come from the mouth of the brain telling the patient, for example, "If you'll jump off the bridge, then you'll get well!" That was the demon's voice and the person was in a demon's possession.

We have cured many chronic schizophrenic and bipolar patients over 10 years just because we know the root of the cause and means of eliminating or drive away the demons.

What we do is spiritually scan and provide a diagnosis and report on the patients before we proceed with spiritual cleansing. People may find hard to believe what we say, but it is the truth. There is hope and a future for these unfortunate ones.

The guardian or spouse is needed to supervise the cleansing water for the patient under direction from the expert. Three attempts/cleansing will be done in 30 days. The result will speak for itself.

anon300128
Post 34

For those who are not diagnosed, if you suspected you were schizophrenic would you check into a mental hospital to get help or just try to handle it on your own? I mean you see the movies about how they sucker you in and you are helpless in there, so would you still go? Just wondering.

anon294920
Post 33

I work with a person who has schizophrenia and was wondering if anyone can help me give him advice about how to help the voices in his head even though he doesn't want to talk about them? When he is hearing these voices his eyes roll back into his head, his pulse is strong and rapid, he's thirsty and sweating. Is there any way I can help?

fafa
Post 32

I have schizophrenia. I have delusions and hallucinations. I am on Invega, and sometimes I feel stressed from my case, and get over it by doing things like I am normal, and I get over it.

I also have depression that I am taking another medication for it. I am taking my meds at night before I sleep so I won't experience any side effects during the day. I have no idea if it's healthy but it's working fine right now, so I am convinced that with medication, I am balanced and feel better, so what the heck? A lot of people have diabetes and hundreds of diseases. I became one and after all, one pill doesn't hurt.

Loving life is the issue. We don't want meds. We want to get back to normal. The issue is with meds everything in normal life has a meaning. Without meds, it's too dangerous and relapses can occur and get in the way of treatment. Always remember to get normal and be able to enjoy life.

We have to find a medication with no side effects or one that is effective at a lower dosage. This helps with side effects. But we have to remain on the meds, accepting the fact that this is a disease and it needs treatment. Unfortunately, it's a life-long treatment for the time being, but a lot of researchers are working on it so we never know what might happen later on.

For the time being medication is the key, and it really helps when it's managed well. I wrote this and I am symptom free.

anon267661
Post 30

I am schizophrenic, and I've self medicated with marijuana for almost 20 years now on and off. For the past several years on.

I have had adverse effects from prolonged use of pharmaceutical pills, most of which I see in ads on television for lawsuits due to extreme adverse effects. My brain will never be the same after being used as a guinea pig for many years.

Fortunately, I stopped the diseased pills and moved on to pot. I eat, I function and I have rebuilt my life for the better -- quality, if you will. I also know other schizophrenic people who are the total opposite of me. If they smoke they get severely episodic. I can now do public speaking, whereas when I was on pills, I could not leave the house for years and even then only for so long. I think labeling mental illness so quickly simply leads to a lot of mistakes.

Doctors need to slow down and listen, not push pills. Some need them, but not all. Be careful with that power, please.

anon263398
Post 29

Do not pay attention to the information here. It is here for psychiatrists to demonize their patients and kill their patients.

anon263334
Post 28

The first signs for me: It was late at night, I getting a snack out of the fridge like normal and I heard a voice so real I can still replay it in my head, "Name your dead!" I turned and said, "What?"

The next morning while walking to school, I kept worrying about how I looked to other people, putting my hood up, sagging pants, and especially the way I was walking.

Just remember you're in control of everything you do and hear. If you are moving in a specific way you don't want to, then stop because you are the one doing it – no one else – just you. If you are hearing voices that aren't your own, stop. You are in control and the only voice you should be making yourself hear in your head is your own which is natural. Everyone talks to themselves.

anon258043
Post 27

I have this problem of being scared by little things like, suppose I bought a mobile to school and you were a teacher who saw me using it so I'm very scared that you might take it from me, or if I had a fight with you the next day I'm scared that you may harm me or one of my family members. Is this a case of Schizophrenia?

I keep getting frightened by these minor things and when I do my face expression turns bad. I feel insecure. Does this mean I have this illness?

anon249457
Post 26

I know someone personally who has schizophrenia but refuses to take his meds because he is afraid of being poisoned.

My heart goes out to anyone who has schizophrenia. What these people go through on a daily basis must be exhausting and they feel secluded and alone. If you are reading this, please know you are not crazy or possessed and please take your meds.

Schizophrenia is a brain disorder and a very serious one, at that. Just know that you are not alone and that there are people out there who can help you!

anon242123
Post 25

Please, invite Jesus Christ into your life. When you are worried or scared or being plagued by thoughts that are negative, you can say to yourself "God is near (in your heart), I have nothing to fear". It will bring about peace, in my opinion.

anon229748
Post 24

Did anyone suffer a chemical imbalance?

anon229747
Post 23

I think that I may be suffering with schizophrenia. I was diagnosed with depression and suffered a mental breakdown. Like many poster, I too, went off fancying women and thought that I was gay. Since 2004 I haven't felt much happiness or had a sex drive either. Please help.

anon223606
Post 22

For anyone who thinks they may be schizophrenic, listen to my advice. I am 22 years old, and have been hospitalized twice over the past two years in different psychiatric facilities. Although I have not been given any one set diagnosis (most psychiatrists are very reluctant to diagnose) I am able to "feel" when an episode is coming on. Mostly, the beginnings stir from paranoia or a fear of being watched or conspired against. Sexual, spiritual, and political identity are usually the topics of thoughts I have had. Lack of sleep from thinking too hard occurs. I then forget where I place certain items (keys, wallet). I might neglect eating, or resort to activities that I think will help me -- to no avail.

If you experience similar tendencies, I have developed some techniques that allow me to not "freak out." First, I disengage from any political activities and begin working on school work. Next, I worry less about masturbation habits and/or who I masturbate to. Then, I try not to feel guilty if I get hungry, and usually drink milk before going to bed.

Finally, I see a psychologist once a week who is willing to talk with me. Fortunately, he has agreed to help me sustain a lifestyle that is drug-free (free from psychoactive drugs). An additional support comes from my family -- and knowing that I can and will live a life of integrity, respect, and accomplishment regardless of who knows about my past.

I hope this helps.

anon212042
Post 21

i think if someone meditates and prays regularly to Allah then he can overcome the symptoms of this disease. We should always ask God for forgiveness, because it is he who has created us and anything is possible for him as long as we put aside all the worldly possessions and devote ourselves to him. It is my personal experience.

Souradeep Purkayastha
Post 18

I have had fears I'm turning gay, I'm becoming a sissy, I'm becoming weak at math, I'm not going to be successful in my future. it takes me down and I can't get rid of it. Really horrible.

anon133958
Post 16

Has anyone noticed that in this state of mind, music that you've listened to before and thought nothing of, now can affect you so much more emotionally and the lyrics have potent meaning?

With all the information I've filled into my head for the past couple years, last summer being when I had an episode induced by hallucinogens, my mind has been weaving thousands of fantastic stories and situations in my head that seem to apply to life in some way, both wonderful and terrifying.

A book that made a lot of sense to me was "The Doors Of Perception and Heaven and Hell" and it might have some insight into personal experiences.

anon119977
Post 15

it was nice reading the comments. i didn't feel so alone. i used to feel i was turning gay or being gay. Accusations from voices out of the air, seeing faces. Until this day i question things, but i don't know.

i just try to stay out of the mental hospital so i supress myself a lot. It works but stress is my danger zone. i can't get too stressed.

anon106060
Post 14

anon: i walk in circles as well.

anon106057
Post 13

I also have schizoaffective and i have hard time taking care of myself and loving myself and i can't cry. it stinks, but i love life. I just hate the moods.

anon82592
Post 12

I have schizoaffective disorder and one of my terrors is thinking and feeling that I might be gay. It makes no sense and it makes me really depressed and lowers my sex drive. I'm hoping this is a symptom of the illness too because I used to really fancy girls.

anon79737
Post 11

has anyone ever felt that they might think they are gay? i have been diagnosed with schizophrenia and am wondering if this is one of the symptoms! i pray to god it is. has anyone thought the same?

anon71335
Post 10

i've been labeled with all sorts: borderline personality disorder depression, adhd, all sorts. they just go, "oh you got this," and never told me why or reasons, just go because you have.

I've often felt like I'm being talked to and just thought, oh it's my brain talking to me. I thought i had made some kind of communication with myself, until this morning, and I was on a game website i love to play, and someone had written something.

the next thing i notice is i think someone is talking in my ear, saying it over, then other strange things. I've been panicky and feel lots of those symptoms above for ages and it's like, oh my gosh i did that ages ago, and oh my. no wonder that happened.

i managed to get in with my doctor, and it's been so hard to go, as i feel like they're going to judge me and tell me off for bothering them, then i think. oh if i go they're going to turn me into the cops, as i found a key symptom is feeling like you're being plotted against.

it's scary as i've seen things and had these awful dreams and they've just gone, yeah so it's normal and it's like feeling pain, not knowing reality from normal life, being scared of a harmless neighbor. due to a dream, i ran past her door in sheer terror as i thought she was going to come after me, until i realised i had to calm down.

if i hadn't found this site i wouldn't have realised it's more likely this than all the other rubbish as i don't feel low, but I don't feel right. i don't feel who i ought to be, and it's scary, but I'm so grateful for this. otherwise i'd not be able to get the help i really need.

anon51266
Post 9

There's never any definition that matches up, They just say it's teenage hormones. I don't feel like a teenager anymore, I feel scared. After reading this article, though, I'm going to go and see a doctor and tell them and beg them to help me.

I hope the other people here who have seen and heard themselves and their problems will find help too. We laugh because we are the same.

anon47730
Post 8

I don't like to use the word "schizophrenia." People mistake it for "multiple personality" and it gets confused with "schizoaffective," which is supposedly not the same thing. And there's such a wide variety of mental conditions that are all given diagnoses of schizoprenia and yet they all present manifestations that are as different from each other as day and night. Whatever. Referring to it as "mind imbalance" somehow makes it seem less like a permanent, scary, incurable disease. I noticed that when I started referring to my condition as a mind imbalance and not the S word, I stopped feeling like a psycho-leper. Yes, I also find relief from marijuana. For some other people, pot exascerbates the problems. People who know me joke about this: I am told that I look wasted when I am straight. And then if I get stoned I look less disoriented and my conversation style becomes more lucid. For some reason it's only the indica weed that works, though. Sativa doesn't de-fuzz me in the same way.

anon32264
Post 7

My son has suffered with mental illness since he was 16 years old. It seems to be getting worse. He was misdiagnosed with Bipolar disorder. He has been hospitalized a number of times, and has been on medication for about 4 years. He likes to pace and walk around in circles. Is there anything that can stop his walking around in circles?

I feel like I am about to lose my mind, it makes me a nervous wreck to see him do this. Now he is doing it inside the house. Also, he has positive symptoms that started after he got a new job. He smokes pot, then he becomes normal. Does pot help schizophrenia? Pls help

anon29085
Post 6

If a person only experiences negative symptoms what do you do? No drug has any effect on negative symptoms and considering how awful side effects are it makes no sense to take them in that situation. So what does someone with this issue do? Doctors don't seem to have an answer. Is there any research about this?

anon18791
Post 5

You know what sucks, is ive been having problems lately, ( im 35 ) and ive seen 3 doctors so far, 2 md's a therapist. NONE of them believe me. I think my first doctor ( who hated me ) put something in my charts that say i lie, which I do not.

Anyway, i have medical insurance but so far no one will help me. The sounds i hear are driving me nuts, its like my mind doesn't get a break.

I think the problem is, im still coherent and i am semi intelligent but have a problem expressing myself. Really, when the Dr's seem to think you just have depression, what do you do ?

Also my therapist did some double talk saying, im putting down depression but ruling out schizophrenia, but ruling out means were actually considering it. WTH does that mean?

anon13929
Post 4

I have a friend who was recently diagnosed with Schizophrenia. There have been times during our friendship when she would accuse me of trying to do things that I wasn't doing at all. It would come out of the blue as well; we could be talking fine and happy, and she would randomly start acting like we were in an argument, and she would start to ignore me. Would you consider these mood swings? And is this a symptom of schizophrenia?

WGwriter
Post 3

Anon12798-- Please see a psychiatrist as soon as possible. If you can't afford to see one, there are usually mental facilities at state hospitals, or mental health clinics. You really need diagnosis and care immediately, especially as you state you are losing control of the situation. Only a doctor can diagnose this condition correctly, and only a doctor or psychiatrist can recommend medications that will help you take back your life.

For Birdie-- There is still a lot of shame associated with mental illnesses, but your friend should not be embarrassed. He has a real illness, and you can help by reminding him that real illnesses like kidney disease or cancer or mental illness are nothing to be ashamed of. Fortunately, this attitude is beginning to change. By being a good pal to your friend, you show him that it doesn't matter one whit to you that he has this illness because he is still special and wonderful.

anon12798
Post 2

i've just started to see and hear things and im staying in control but im now starting to really lose it and i don't know who to talk to i need help and fast before i do something bad

birdie1120
Post 1

I have friend who has schizophrenia. His symptoms are pretty much in control. I want to know ways to cope with his symptoms, they are just minor. I want to see if I can give him some confidence as much as possible. To let him know that he okay. To help him get through the minor symptoms. He is really likable guy. He is mostly quiet. I hope that I can some advice.

Post your comments

Post Anonymously

Login

username
password
forgot password?

Register

username
password
confirm
email