Schizophrenia: A mental illness

Schizophrenia is a serious mental illness that interferes with a person’s ability to think, manage emotions, make decisions and relate to others. It is a long term condition that can have a profound impact on a person’s ability to function in life.

It usually appears in late adolescence or early adulthood.

The symptoms usually emerge when a patient is between their late teens and early 30 years old.

Schizophrenia is a lifelong condition, but proper treatment can help manage the symptoms.

Schizophrenia affects different people in different ways, but these are some common symptoms.


These are 1) confused speech

2) lack of facial expression

3) lack of emotional expression

4) lack of motivation

5) difficulty in concentration

6) psychosis, such as delusion and hallucinations


A patient experiencing delusions may speculate something is true when there is no evidence of it. For example, they may believe that —- they are very important, someone is pursuing them, others are attempting to control them remotely and they have extraordinary powers or abilities.

Confused thinking and speech

A patient’s thinking and speech may jump from one subject to another for no logical reason. There may also be memory problems and difficulty in understanding situations.


The most common type is hearing voices, but a hallucination can affect all the senses. For example, a person may also see, feel, taste or smell things that are not there.

Other symptoms are :

1) Motivation – the patient may neglect everyday activities, including self-care.

2 Emotional expression – the patient may respond inappropriately or not at all too sad or happy occasions.

3) Social Life – the patient may fear that somebody’s is going to harm them. So, he does not want to meet people, avoiding social gatherings.

Communication – the patient unusual thoughts and speech can make it difficult for them to communicate with others.

Negative symptoms – this refers to reduced or lack of ability to function normally. The patient may lose interest in everything, have social withdrawal or cannot experience pleasure.

Suicidal thoughts and behaviour are common among people with schizophrenia.

Interestingly, most people who are suffering from schizophrenia don’t realise that they are unwell.


It is not known what causes schizophrenia, but researchers believe that a combination of genetics, brain chemistry and environment contributes to the development of the disorders.

1) Genetic inheritance

2) A chemical imbalance in the brain – it appears when there is an imbalance of a neurotransmitter called dopamine and possibly also serotonin in the brain.

3) Environmental factors – a) trauma

b) malnutrition before birth

c) viral infection

d) psychosocial factors such as trauma

e) certain drugs and medications as cannabis can trigger schizophrenia in those who are consuming for a long time.

Types – 1) paranoid schizophrenia

2) Schizoaffective disorder- it combines symptoms of schizophrenia and mood disorder.


There is no specific diagnostic test to assess for schizophrenia. A doctor will diagnose it by observing the patient’s behaviour. They will ask about their history of physical and mental health. Because they may recommend some tests to rule out other possible causes of the symptoms such as a tumour, brain injury or other mental health conditions such as bipolar disorder.

Treatment– Schizophrenia is a lifelong condition, but proper treatment can help a person manage the symptoms, prevent lapses and avoid hospitalisation.

Some treatments for them are:

1) Medicine – antipsychotic drugs as risperidone, olanzapine clozapine, quetiapine etc.

2) psychotherapy and counselling – this can help a person develop coping skills and pursue their life goals.

3) coordinated special care – this integrates medications, family involvement etc.

So, please take care and immediately consult the doctor for early treatment.

Dr S.k.jha


5 thoughts on “Schizophrenia: A mental illness

  1. Thanks. I’m a caregiver to my daughter of 23 years who has been fighting mental health for 3 years without much success.


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