Individuals with the disorder may hear voices that other people don’t hear and may believe other people are reading their minds controlling their thoughts or plotting against them. Genes and environment play large role in development in the disorder. Symptoms often develop in adolescence and early adulthood. More research is needed to help explain how the disorder develops. Early warning signs of the disorder include:
- Peculiar or nonsensical way of speaking
- Strange body positioning
- Feeling indifferent to very important situations
- Change in personality or appearance
- Deterioration of academic or work performance
- Withdrawal from social situations
- Irrational or angry response to loved ones
- Inability to sleep
- Inappropriate or bizarre behavior
Symptoms of schizophrenia vary widely and can often make it hard to lead a normal life and earn a living.
- Positive symptoms – characterized by psychotic behaviors not seen in healthy people such as hallucinations, delusions, thought disorders and movement disorders
- Negative symptoms – characterized by disruptions to normal emotions and behaviors such as lack of pleasure in everyday life, lack of ability to begin and sustain planned activities, speaking little, not moving their face when the person talks
- Cognitive symptoms –symptoms are subtler and may be difficult to recognize as part of the disorder. Symptoms include poor executive functioning, trouble focusing or paying attention, problems with working memory.
Treatments for schizophrenia focus on eliminating symptoms of the disease and include antipsychotic medications and various psychosocial treatments.
- Antipsychotic medications – Various conventional and new antipsychotic medications are used to treat schizophrenia. It is important to monitor dosage and combinations of medications to avoid dangerous side effects.
- Psychosocial treatments – Treatments can help people with schizophrenia who are already stabilized on antipsychotic medication and help patients deal with communication, self-care, work and forming relationships. Types of psychosocial treatments include illness management skills, integrated treatment for co-occurring substance abuse, rehabilitation, family education, cognitive behavioral therapy and self-help groups.
How to ask for help
People with schizophrenia often resist treatment and may not feel they need to seek help. Oftentimes family and friends can help individuals with schizophrenia take action and seek treatment. Types of services available to individuals seeking help and treatment include case managers, psychosocial rehabilitation programs, self-help groups, drop-in centers, housing programs, employment programs and crisis services.