Mental Health Awareness Month: Schizophrenia

In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, every Monday, Wednesday and Friday in May, I’ll be breaking down the basics of mental illnesses you said you wanted to read more about.

Read about: PTSD | OCD | Bipolar Disorder

Mental Health Monday will also accept submissions to be featured throughout the month, whether writing, art, photo, audio, video etc. Narratives and creative pieces are welcome. If you’d like to learn more, message Mental Health Monday on Facebook or Twitter or email at You can read Submission Guidelines Here.


Schizophrenia is a chronic condition that affects the way people think, feel and behave, causing them to seem out of touch with reality. It is one of the least understood and most stigmatized mental illnesses.

Schizophrenia is characterized by…

  • Disorganized thinking
  • Emotions and behaviors that don’t align with their situations
  • Disturbed perceptions, including delusions and hallucinations.

  • The disorder is a point on a spectrum called schizophrenia spectrum disorders, which includes other psychotic disorders such as schizoaffective disorder, delusional disorder, schizophreniform disorder, schizotypal personality disorder and brief psychotic disorder.

    Schizophrenia affects about 2.4 million Americans (1 percent of the population), according to The National Alliance on Mental Illness. It can affect anyone of any age, but it usually appears for men in the their early to mid-20s and for women in the late 20s to early 30s.

    Courtesy ot Tedx Talks


    People who are affected by schizophrenia often experience a break from reality and what are generally considered psychotic symptoms that hinder their ability to function. Schizophrenia is a syndrome, which means there are many symptoms and different patients can experience different symptoms. But those symptoms can be broken into three general categories:

    Positive Symptoms

  • Hallucinations – seeing things, hearing voices or smelling things that other people can’t perceive. These experiences are very real to the person, and could be threatening or critical.
  • Delusions – False beliefs that are unaffected by new ideas or facts.
  • Disorganized Thinking

  • Negative Symptoms

  • Disconnected emotionally
  • Reduced speaking
  • Reduced interest in life, relationships or activities

  • Cognitive Symptoms

  • Difficulty remembering things
  • Trouble paying attention
  • Anosognosia – “Lack of insight.” The person is unaware that he or she has an illness.

  • Symptoms can be gradual or sudden and could be triggered or worsened by stress or trauma. No event can cause schizophrenia, but research suggests that possible causes include: genetics, environment, brain chemistry, substance abuse.

    While there is a 1 in 100 chance of developing schizophrenia, those odds increase to 1 in 10 if a parent or sibling has schizophrenia, and there’s a 50 percent chance of developing it if that sibling is an identical twin.


    Right now, a cure does not exist, but schizophrenia is treatable.

    Some treatments include antipsychotic medications, which focus on eliminating symptoms, such as hallucinations, and psychosocial methods, which helps people re-establish social stability with the help of a counselor or therapist.

    Scientists are also working on understanding more of the causes and effects of schizophrenia so they can create better tools and intervention techniques, which is important because research suggests that a person’s brain endures more damage with each psychotic episode.

    This is just a mere scraping of the surface on bipolar disorder. What else would you like to know?

    For help finding a therapist, visit:
    National Alliance on Mental Health
    Psychology Today
    Good Therapy

    For more on schizophrenia, visit:
    National Institute of Mental Health
    National Alliance on Mental Illness
    Brain & Behavior Research Foundation


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