What is Schizophrenia?

If you go around and ask people what schizophrenia is, you’d probably get a lot of “split personality” answers. But this is a common misconception. Split personality is actually a term used to describe another psychological disorder called associative identity disorder.

Schizophrenia, meanwhile, is a brain disorder that affects a person’s perception and behavior. It is characterized mainly by delusions and hallucinations, since this disorder inhibits a person’s ability to distinguish reality from imagination. A person with schizophrenia exhibits weird and strange behaviors to the point that can shock and appall other people.

Among all mental illnesses, this one is the most chronic and debilitating. It can affect a person’s ability to function normally in the society. It can also have negative repercussions on a person’s education, employment, and relationship with other people.

This condition is categorized into subtypes according to symptoms.

One of the most common types is Paranoid Schizophrenia, a condition wherein a person is preoccupied with the delusion that he is constantly being persecuted or punished by another individual. In this type of schizophrenia, the person’s thinking, speech, and emotions remain relatively normal.

Another type is the Disorganized Schizophrenia. In this condition, a person is often confused and incoherent. His/her disorganized behavior disrupts normal everyday activities, even simple ones like food preparation or hygienic practices. A person with this type of ailment is known to have jumbled or disorganized speech as well as emotionless or inappropriate behavior.

Catatonic Schizophrenia, meanwhile, renders a person incapable of responding to the world around him. The most striking symptom of this condition is catatonic immobility, wherein a person’s body becomes stiff and rigid, holding a certain bizarre position. That person would hold onto that position for a long period of time, thinking that he/she has lost the ability to move.

Undifferentiated Schizophrenia covers every other schizophrenia that does not fall under the three subtypes mentioned above.

Finally, there is a condition called Residual Schizophrenia, wherein a person experiences significantly less symptoms of hallucinations and delusions, among others.

Experts believe that schizophrenia is caused not by a single factor but several ones. It has long been recognized that genes play an important role in the development of this mental illness. A person who has a first-degree relative (parent, brother, sister) suffering from schizophrenia has 10 percent more chances of developing this disease than those who do not. A person who has a twin brother or sister who is schizophrenic has 40 to 65 percent chances of having schizophrenia.

However, it is important to note that genes is not enough to trigger the onset of this disorder. Environmental factors like malnutrition, birth problems, excessive stress, exposure to viruses, and other psychosocial factors contribute to schizophrenia. This means that even if you have the genetic predisposition towards schizophrenia, if no environmental factor triggers its onset, you have lesser chances of having this mental ailment.

Schizophrenia is a very serious illness that requires appropriate and extensive treatment. If you or any of your family exhibits symptoms of this disorder, it is imperative to consult a doctor immediately.

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