What is Schizophrenia? (Definition)
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, Schizophrenia is a chronic and severe mental disorder that affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves. People with schizophrenia may seem like they have lost touch with reality. Although schizophrenia is not as common as other mental disorders, the symptoms can be very disabling. The cause of schizophrenia remains unclear. Some theories about the cause of this disease include: genetics (heredity), biology (abnormalities in the brain’s chemistry or structure); and/or possible viral infections and immune disorders.
Schizophrenia affects about 1 percent of the population, causing hallucinations, depression and impaired thinking and social behavior. Cognitive problems typically are a major source of dysfunction and disability in patients and can be among the earliest symptoms. Babies born to mothers who develop a severe infection, such as influenza or pneumonia, during pregnancy have a significantly increased risk of schizophrenia.
Signs and Symptoms of Schizophrenia
The symptoms of schizophrenia fall into three categories: positive, negative, and cognitive.
Positive symptoms may include:
- Delusions – May believe that someone is spying on him or her, or that they are someone famous
- Hallucinations – Seeing, feeling, tasting, hearing or smelling something that doesn’t really exist
- Thought disorders – Moving from one topic to another, in a nonsensical fashion
- Movement disorders – Agitated body movements
Negative symptoms may include:
- Flat affect” (reduced expression of emotions via facial expression or voice tone)
- Reduced feelings of pleasure in everyday life
- Difficulty beginning and sustaining activities
- Reduced speaking
Cognitive symptoms may include:
- Poor “executive functioning” (the ability to understand information and use it to make decisions)
- Trouble focusing or paying attention
- Problems with “working memory” (the ability to use information immediately after learning it)
See below for updated news and information regarding Schizophrenia including new medical research, treatment options and advancements.
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