What Is Schizophrenia?

What is Schizophrenia? 

Schizophrenia refers to debilitating psychological disorders that impair personal, social, and occupational functioning and are characterized by hallucinations, delusions, speech issues, and more. It is characterized by positive symptoms (excesses), negative symptoms (deficits), and psychomotor symptoms. 

Signs of schizophrenia are generally noticeable in early adulthood. In order to be able to diagnose it, symptoms must persist for six months, and it is imperative that a professional such as a clinical psychologist or a psychiatrist is consulted. 

What are “positive symptoms”? 

Positive symptoms refer to symptoms that are abnormally present or referred to as “excesses” generally consisting of hallucinations, delusions, speech, and thought disorders. 

Delusions are false or unreasonable beliefs that a schizophrenic person may believe in without any proof or basis of argument. There are various kinds of delusions, such as: 

  1. Delusion of Persecution: It is the most common type of delusion experienced: one may believe that they are being spied on, plotted against, or a threat to be attacked. They might think that they are being followed or harassed by someone. 
  2. Delusion of Reference: One may attach personal meanings to the actions of others or inanimate objects when not intended. 
  3. Delusion of Grandeur: One may believe that they are the most special ones. 
  4. Delusion of Control: One may believe that all their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors are being manipulated. 

These are just a few kinds of delusions that people experience which are common signs of schizophrenia. 

Hallucinations are experiencing the perception of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, or feeling which does not exist. There are different types of hallucinations experienced such as: 

  1. Auditory Hallucinations:  Most commonly found in schizophrenic patients. One may here sounds or voices  that could be speaking to them (referred to as second-person hallucination) or hear a conversation between two voices referring to themselves as they (referred to as third-person hallucination) 
  2. Visual Hallucinations: One may perceive images, colors, and visions that do not really exist
  3. Tactile Hallucinations: Experiencing tingling and burnings 
  4. Gustatory and Olfactory Hallucinations: Experiencing the perception of strange food or drinks, or smelling smoke 

People with schizophrenia also commonly experience disorganized thought and speech behavior. It can be difficult to cause difficulty in communication as rapidly changing topics may cause the mind to become muddled and lead to confusion.

What are “negative symptoms”?

Negative symptoms refer to symptoms that are abnormally absent, referred to as “deficits”, generally consisting of poverty of speech, social withdrawal, and lack of emotion. 

  1. Alogia: or “poverty of speech” is a negative symptom of schizophrenia wherein people experience a reduction in speech. 
  2. Avolition: refers to one showing a complete lack of interest or apathy
  3. Blunted Effect: Decrease in experiencing all emotions 
  4. Flat Effect: Showing little to no emotion at all 

What are “psychomotor symptoms”?

Psychomotor symptoms of schizophrenia are largely characterized by catatonia. 

  1. Catatonia: remaining motionless and silent for a long period of time, showing no movement 
  2. Catatonic Rigidity: Staying rigid for a long period of time 
  3. Catatonic Posturing: Staying in an awkward position for a long period of time. 

Why Does Schizophrenia Occur? 

Unfortunately, there is no one determining the cause of schizophrenia. Although it is believed to have a heavy genetic component, there are underlying factors in a person’s physical, psychological, and social aspects that have yet to be confidently determined. 

Schizophrenia Spectrum and Other Psychotic Disorders 

As schizophrenia is such a varied disorder, experts have classified them into major spectrum disorders: 

  1. Schizoaffective Disorder: has components of mood episodes, such as depression or mania
  2. Schizophreniform Disorder:  The symptoms last for a shorter period of time 
  3. Schizotypal Personality Disorder: Individuals have an easier time distinguishing reality, it is less intense than schizophrenia. 

There are many more different types of schizophrenia such as paranoid schizophrenia, and catatonic schizophrenia which are commonly experienced by schizophrenic individuals. 

Apart from schizophrenia, there are other psychotic disorders similar to it as well.

  1. Brief Psychotic Disorder: When one experiences psychotic symptoms for a short period of time, it is referred to as a “brief psychotic disorder” 
  2. Shared Psychotic Disorder: Group of individuals all believing the same delusion 
  3. Delusion Disorder: When one experiences delusions, however, they are not debilitating and the individual can appear to behave normally. 
  4. Substance-Induced Psychotic Disorder: Onset of psychotic symptoms such as delusions or hallucinations due to substance abuse. 

How Are Schizophrenia and Other Psychotic Disorders treated? 

Much like most psychological disorders, schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders are treated through a combined effort of medication and psychotherapy. For medications, “antipsychotics” are generally prescribed as they have been found to be the most effective in helping manage symptoms of schizophrenia. 

If you would like to learn more about what therapy is, or what are the different types of therapies, you can check out Venthrapy’s blog posts! If you would like to get started with professional help, sign up today! 

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