Symptoms | Causes | Diagnostic Criteria | Treatments

Schizophrenia is a mental illness characterized by delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech, catatonic behavior, and diminished emotional expressions. Someone suffering from schizophrenia can expect to receive treatment for the rest of their lives as there is currently no cure for this mental disorder.

People with schizophrenia may display inappropriate affects, such as laughing in the absence of an appropriate stimulus, a dysphoric mood, a disturbed sleep pattern, and a lack of interest in eating, among other things. Other abnormalities common among people with schizophrenia include sensory processing and inhibitory capacity issues, as well as reductions in attention.

It is not uncommon for people suffering with this condition to be hospitalized as a result of their delusions or hallucinations. Symptoms such as these may also lead one to end up in legal trouble, too, as their behaviors may directly or indirectly effect other people in society in negative or harmful ways.

Hostility and aggression can be associated with schizophrenia, although spontaneous or random assault is uncommon. Aggression is more frequent for younger males and for individuals with a past history of violence, refusal to be treated/take medication, drug abuse, and impulsive behavior, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

Schizophrenia Symptoms

While everyone who has schizophrenia can expect the content of their symptoms to be unique, there are some very common symptoms of this condition, symptoms which are often required for a diagnosis of schizophrenia to be made. The following symptoms are common for those with this condition:

  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations
  • Disorganized speech
  • Grossly disorganized or catatonic behavior
  • Diminished emotional expression or avolition

Causes of Schizophrenia

According to the DSM-5, environmental, genetic, and physiological factors all play a part in the development of this mental illness. Season of birth has been linked to the incidence of schizophrenia, including late winter / early spring in some locations and summer for the deficit form of the disease. The incidence of schizophrenia and related disorders is higher for children growing up in an urban environment and for some minority ethnic groups.

Furthermore, there is also a strong contribution for genetic factors in determining risk for this mental disorder, although most individuals who have been diagnosed with schizophrenia have no family history of psychosis. Pregnancy and birth complications with hypoxia and greater paternal age are associated with a higher risk of schizophrenia for the developing fetus, according to the DSM-5.

Additionally, other prenatal and perinatal adversities, including stress infection, malnutrition, maternal diabetes and other medical conditions, have been linked with the development of schizophrenia. However, the vast majority of offspring with these risk factors do not develop schizophrenia, according to the DSM-5.

Diagnostic Criteria

To get diagnosed with mental illness, the patient will need to get a psychiatric evaluation by a licensed mental health professional. Additionally, they may also get a MRI or CT scan to see the activity in the brain.

According to the DSM-5, the diagnostic criteria for schizophrenia is as follows:

A. Two (or more) of the following, each present for a significant portion of time during a 1-month period (or less if successfully treated). At least one of these must be (1), (2), or (3):

  1. Delusions
  2. Hallucinations
  3. Disorganized speech (e.g., frequent derailment or incoherence)
  4. Grossly disorganized or catatonic behavior
  5. Negative symptoms (i.e., diminished emotional expression or avolition)

B. For a significant portion of the time since the onset of the disturbance, level of functioning in one or more major areas, such as work, interpersonal relations, or self-care, is markedly below the level achieved prior to the onset.

C. Continuous signs of the disturbance persist for at least 6 months.

D. Schizoaffective disorder and depressive or bipolar disorder with psychotic features have been ruled out because either 1) no major depressive or manic episodes have occurred concurrently with the active-phase symptoms, or 2) if mood episodes have occurred during active-phase symptoms, they have been present for a minority of the total duration of the active and residual periods of the illness.

E. The disturbance is not attributable to the physiological effects of a substance or another medical condition.

F. If there is a history of autism spectrum disorder or a communication disorder of childhood onset, the additional diagnosis of schizophrenia is made only if prominent delusions or hallucinations, in addition to the other required symptoms of schizophrenia are also present for at least 1 month (or less if successfully treated).

Schizophrenia Treatments

Just as the case with all other mental disorders, there is no cure for this mental disorder either. However, there are many forms of treatment that may help to reduce the symptoms associated with this mental illness. Talk therapy and psychiatric medication are common forms of treatment for schizophrenia. Below, you will see some of these methodologies in greater detail:

Therapy. Some common types of therapy for those with this mental disorder include support groups, cognitive therapy, and behavior therapy, among others. These types of therapy modalities are designed to help the schizophrenic to lower the intensity of their symptoms so they can live happier, more productive lives.

Medication. While therapy is often used to help treat this condition, psychiatric medication is often used alongside therapy to help mitigate the many undesirable symptoms of this condition. Some common antipsychotic medications used to treat schizophrenia are Chlorpromazine, Fluphenazine, Haloperidol, Perphenazine, Aripiprazole, Quetiapine, and Asenapine, among several other.

Remember, you should always first talk to your doctor or therapist before you decide to engage in any sort of psychiatric treatment so to ensure that it is safe and effective to do so. While some medication may work well for certain people, the same drug may not be useful for someone else. Therefore, trial and error is often a part of the process of finding the right combination of therapy and pharmaceuticals to treat schizophrenia.

If you think you may be experiencing some of the symptoms of schizophrenia, then you should reach out to your doctor or therapist immediately. In the meantime, feel free to take our free schizophrenia test to see your indication of this mental disorder.


  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5)

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