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Behavioral | Mental Health

Schizophrenia & Other Psychotic Disorders

Schizophreniais one of the most complex of all mental health disorders. It involves a severe, chronic, and disabling disturbance of the brain. And, what was once classified as a psychological disease is now classified as a brain disease.

What causes schizophrenia?
There is no known single cause responsible for schizophrenia. It is believed that a chemical imbalance in the brain is an inherited factor which is necessary for schizophrenia to develop. However, it is likely that many factors - genetic, behavioral and environmental - play a role in the development of this mental health condition.

Who is affected by schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is considered to be multifactorially inherited. Multifactorial inheritance means that "many factors" are involved. The factors are usually both genetic and environmental, where a combination of genes from both parents, in addition to unknown environmental factors, produce the trait or condition. Often, one gender (either males or females) is affected more frequently than the other in multifactorial traits. There appears to be a different threshold of expression, which means that one gender is more likely to show the problem than the other gender. Slightly more males develop schizophrenia in childhood; however, by adolescence, schizophrenia affects males and females equally.

Although schizophrenia affects men and women equally, symptoms in men generally begin earlier than in women. In most cases, schizophrenia first appears in men during their late teens or early 20s. In women, schizophrenia often first appears during their 20s or early 30s.

Statistics indicate that schizophrenia affects 2.7 million Americans. A child born into a family with one or more schizophrenic family members has a greater chance of developing schizophrenia than a child born into a family with no history of schizophrenia.

After a person has been diagnosed with schizophrenia in a family, the chance for a sibling to also be diagnosed with schizophrenia is 7 to 8 percent. If a parent has schizophrenia, the chance for a child to have the disorder is 10 to 15 percent. Risks increase with multiple affected family members.

Call (330) 379-9841 for more information or to schedule an appointment with a behavioral health specialist.

What are the symptoms?

One of the most disturbing and puzzling characteristics of schizophrenia is the sudden onset of its psychotic symptoms. The following are the most common symptoms of schizophrenia. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
  • distorted perception of reality (i.e., difficulty telling dreams from reality)
  • confused thinking (i.e., confusing television with reality)
  • detailed and bizarre thoughts and ideas
  • suspiciousness and/or paranoia (fearfulness that someone, or something, is going to harm them)
  • hallucinations (seeing, hearing, or feeling things that are not real, such as hearing voices telling them to do something)
  • delusions (ideas that seem real but are not based in reality)
  • extreme moodiness
  • severe anxiety and/or fearfulness
  • flat effect (lack of emotional expression when speaking) or inability to manage emotions
  • difficulty in performing functions at work and/or school
  • exaggerated self-worth and/or unrealistic sense of superiority of one's self
  • social withdrawal (severe problems in making and keeping friends )
  • disorganized or catatonic behavior (suddenly becoming agitated and confused, or sitting and staring as if immobilized)
  • odd behaviors
The symptoms of schizophrenia are often classified as positive (symptoms including delusions, hallucinations, and bizarre behavior), negative (symptoms including flat effect, withdrawal, and emotional unresponsiveness), disorganized speech (including speech that is incomprehensible), and disorganized or catatonic behavior (including marked mood swings, sudden aggressive, or confusion, followed by sudden motionlessness and staring).

The symptoms of schizophrenia in children are similar to adults; however, children more often (in 80 percent of diagnosed cases) experience auditory hallucinations and typically do not experience delusions or formal thought disorders until mid-adolescence or older.

The symptoms of schizophrenia may resemble other problems or psychiatric conditions. Always consult your physician for a diagnosis.
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