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What Is Schizophrenia?

Medically reviewed by Sandeep Dhanyamraju
Medically reviewed by Sandeep Dhanyamraju

Schizophrenia is a chronic illness that provokes misinterpretations of reality and can cause hallucinations, delusions, and disordered thinking and behavior that impair daily functioning. This psychotic disorder can lead to disability.

One of the biggest problems with this disease is that it cannot be completely cured. At the same time, scientists continue to look for the causes of schizophrenia and new methods of treatment or at least correction of this condition.

Another big problem with this psychotic disorder is the misconceptions about it in society. It is not about a split personality, and most patients do not pose a threat to others.

Studies show that this ailment affects both men and women equally. There is a very high likelihood of dying at a young age due to comorbid problems, such as heart disease or diabetes, which are common in people with schizophrenia

This psychotic disorder has an active and an inactive phase.

  1. In the inactive phase, a person behaves in the same way as a healthy person. But the longer the illness lasts, the more the person’s personality changes. This change can be a loss of emotional vibrations, interest, simplification of interests and activities: a person is not interested in hobbies, communication with friends. That is, a person is limited only to physiological things. But this is manifested in those who have been suffering from schizophrenia for 20-30 years.
  2. The active phase already has obvious symptoms. For example, a person cannot distinguish between real and unreal experiences. As with any medical condition, symptoms vary from patient to patient in frequency and duration. In addition, the older the person is, the less often they have severe psychotic symptoms. Alcohol, drugs, stress, and inappropriate medication also affect the severity of this psychotic disorder.

The disease has several basic forms and stages. By the nature of the manifestation, as well as the intensity of the symptomatic manifestations, four main forms are distinguished:

  • Catatonic – accompanied by stupor in action and thinking. The appearance of short-term stages of arousal is possible.
  • Paranoid – a severe form, accompanied by obsessions, hallucinations, and delusional ideas.
  • Residual – characterized by a chronic course, accompanied by a dull emotional state.
  • Hebephrenic – often observed in young people, is considered the most difficult form, accompanied by a loss of the ability to adapt to a social environment.

The psychotic disorder has three main stages of the course:

  • mastery (the familiar world is distorted by hallucinations, its perception changes);
  • adaptation (getting used to the new realities of the disease – the state becomes commonplace);
  • degradation (emotional devastation occurs, time and space lose significance for the patient).

Symptoms of schizophrenia

Symptoms of schizophrenia

Here are the main symptoms that are observed in patients with schizophrenia:

  • hallucinations – for example, the patient may hear voices or see things that do not exist;
  • exaggeration or distorted understanding of reality;
  • decrease or loss of the ability to make plans;
  • violation of communication functions;
  • weak expression of emotions;
  • loss of pleasure;
  • confusion of consciousness;
  • speech problems;
  • violation of logical thinking;
  • unnatural behavior and movement.

This psychotic disorder usually manifests itself in 20-30 years. However, there are cases when this happens earlier, most often due to certain factors – stress due to poor performance at school, toxic family atmosphere, problems with peers, and the like.

“Sometimes there are symptoms at the age of 14-16. But these are quite rare cases. It is not known exactly why in some it manifests itself at a young age, while in others – at an older age. This is influenced by genetic predisposition, environment, the structure of receptors in the body, and developmental characteristics,” says the psychiatrist.

Symptoms must last for at least six months to be diagnosed. It can only be delivered by a doctor and only after a thorough medical examination since similar symptoms can occur for other reasons, for example, due to abuse of psychotropic substances, inflammation of the brain, or a brain tumor.

Causes of schizophrenia

Each case is special. Several factors can cause illness.

  1. This psychotic disorder is often hereditary, but no gene is responsible for it. Certain combinations of genes can make a person prone to developing the disease. However, the presence of these genes does not mean that a person will one hundred percent have schizophrenia. Evidence that the disease is partially hereditary comes from research on twins. Identical twins share the same set of genes. If one of them develops schizophrenia, the other twin has a 50% chance of getting sick, even if they grow up separately. If one of the twins with different genetic makeup develops schizophrenia, the other has a 12.5% ​​chance of developing it.
  2. At the same time, studies have shown that there are subtle differences in the structure of their brains. These changes are not observed in all people with schizophrenia and can occur in people without mental illness. But schizophrenia can be partly a brain psychotic disorder.
  3. There are chemicals in our brain that transmit messages between its cells – neurotransmitters. Scientists have also found a link between neurotransmitters and schizophrenia – medications that relieve some of the symptoms of schizophrenia alter the level of neurotransmitters in the brain.
  4. Changes in the level of neurotransmitters – dopamine and serotonin – can also lead to schizophrenia. Some research suggests that an imbalance between the two may be causing the problem. Others have found that altering the body’s sensitivity to neurotransmitters is one of the causes of this psychotic disorder.
  5. Schizophrenia can also develop in babies with low birth weight, premature birth, or lack of oxygen during labor. These factors can affect the brain.
  6. The development of the disease in older age can be influenced by severe stress: loss of work or home, death of loved ones, breakdown of relationships, physical, sexual, or emotional abuse. However, these situations alone are not capable of causing schizophreniform disorder. They can only serve as a trigger for those at risk.

Diagnostics of schizophrenia

There is no specific test for detecting schizophreniform disorder. Diagnosis is based on an analysis of the anamnesis data and the clinical picture. Information obtained from third parties such as family members, friends, teachers, and colleagues is essential.

Differential diagnosis

Based on medical history and examination, which includes laboratory tests and neuroimaging, psychosis due to other illnesses or substance use disorders should be ruled out. Although some patients with schizophreniform disorder have structural brain abnormalities on imaging, these abnormalities are not specific enough to be of diagnostic value.


  • neuropsychological tests;
  • neuroimaging;
  • electroencephalogram;
  • and other tests for examining brain function (such as oculography) do not help distinguish between major mental disorders.

However, early studies suggest that the results of such tests can be used to group patients into 3 different psychobiotypes that do not correspond to the currently used categories of clinical diagnosis.

Some personality disorders (especially schizotypal ones) can present with symptoms similar to schizophrenia, although these are usually less severe and do not lead to psychosis.

Treatment of schizophrenia

Treatment of schizophrenia

Schizophreniform disorder is incurable. This disease requires lifelong medication – even in the inactive phase. Usually, medications and therapy are used to correct the condition, and sometimes hospitalization may be required.

Treatment of psychosis is divided into several stages:

  1. The first stage is the removal of an acute condition when there are hallucinations or a threat to others or oneself.
  2. Then the appointment of supportive treatment, which a person takes for a long time – most often, it will be lifelong.
  3. Antipsychotic drugs have usually been prescribed that act on the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain.
  4. Other medications, such as antidepressants, can also help.
  5. Some of these medicines are on the National Medicines List – therefore, the state can provide them to patients.
  6. However, for the more effective drugs that are not included in this list, patients must buy themselves.
  7. But, according to the psychiatrist, in some places, there are regional programs that at least partially cover their cost.

It may take several weeks for symptoms to clear up. Schizophrenia medications have serious side effects and may be reluctant for people with the schizophreniform disorder to take.

Psychotherapy can help normalize your way of thinking. In addition, learning to deal with stress, detecting relapse early, and preventing it can help people with schizophrenia cope with their illness. Psychological support groups can also help these patients.

Prognosis of schizophrenia

Factors associated with a good prognosis include:

  • Good premorbid functioning;
  • Late and/or sudden onset of the disease;
  • Family history of affective disorders other than schizophreniform disorder;
  • Minimal cognitive impairment;
  • Mild negative symptoms;
  • Shorter duration of psychosis if untreated.

Factors associated with a poor prognosis include:

  • The onset of the disease at a young age;
  • Poor premorbid functioning;
  • Complicated family heredity for schizophrenia;
  • Numerous negative symptoms;
  • Long duration of psychosis in the absence of treatment;
  • In men, the results of therapy are worse than in women; women respond better to antipsychotic medications.

Research conducted by the RAISE initiative has shown that the earlier and the more intensive the treatment, the better the outcome.

  1. During the first five years after the onset of symptoms, a person’s activity is disrupted, social and work skills decrease, and self-service impairment progresses. Negative symptoms may worsen and cognitive function may decline.
  2. Some evidence suggests a decrease in disease severity later in life, especially among women.
  3. Patients with severe negative symptoms and cognitive impairment may develop spontaneous movement disorders, even if antipsychotics are not prescribed.
  4. This disease can be accompanied by other mental disorders.
  5. When associated with severe obsessive-compulsive symptoms, the prognosis is extremely poor; when associated with borderline psychopathy, the prognosis is slightly better.
  6. Approximately 80% of people with schizophrenia experience an episode of major depression at least once in their life.
  7. During the first year after diagnosis, the prognosis largely depends on the degree of adherence to the prescribed regime of taking psychotropic drugs and avoidance of taking recreational drugs.
  8. One-third of patients achieve significant and long-term improvement; the condition of one-third improves slightly, but periodic relapses and residual disability remain; one-third remain permanently incapacitated.
  9. Only about 15% return to the original state in which they were before the disease.

Illicit substance use is a serious problem in many patients with schizophreniform disorder. There is evidence that the use of marijuana and other hallucinogens is extremely harmful to patients with schizophrenia and should be strictly discarded until involuntary treatment. Substance use is one of the most serious factors in an unfavorable prognosis. It can lead to a violation of the therapy regimen, the development of relapses, repeated hospitalizations, a decrease in the patient’s activity, and a violation of his social adaptation, leading to homelessness.

What is schizophrenia FAQ

How long can schizophrenia last?

The disease lasts at least six months but can last a lifetime. The condition can lead to disability and leave deep marks on self-esteem. The person may be unable to work or study, become withdrawn, or suffer from outbursts of anger.

How can schizophreni form disorder be identified by the eyes?

According to doctors, patients with mental illness give out the movements of their eyes. During the experiments, scientists at the University of Aberdeen asked volunteers to track slowly moving objects. People with schizophrenia were unable to track moving objects smoothly.

What is sluggish schizophrenia?

Sluggish schizophrenia with phenomena of depersonalization is characterized, first of all, by the phenomena of alienation, spreading to the sphere of autopsychics (consciousness of a change in the inner world, mental impoverishment), and a decrease in vitality, initiative, and activity.

What can cause mental disorder?

Risk factors for mental illness include genetic inheritance, such as a tendency toward depression or a parent’s personality. Marijuana addiction, alcoholism, theism – all of these are correlated with mental disorders.

What is the name of the disease when a person is prone to self-diagnosis?

Cyberchondria is a mental disorder that involves the desire for self-diagnosis based on the symptoms of diseases described on Internet sites. Cyberchondria is a type of hypochondria. A person with cyberchondria is called a cyberchondriac.

How does psychotic disorder begin?

Psychosis begins with hallucinations, when it seems to a person that they see, hear, feel something that does not exist in reality. The most common are audible hallucinations. Obsessive delusions, when the sick person expresses strange thoughts and beliefs.

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Edward Medina
Edward Medina
15:34 30 Jun 22
Just such an amazing staff that makes you feel like part of their family. I’ve been going there for over 5 years now... and each visit I get the very best care and treatments that I have ever received in the 20+ years that I’ve been dealing with severe debilitating migraines. Since i started seeing them the number of my migraines has dropped from 15-20 a month to 2-3 every 3 month. I highly recommend them …they will change your life!read more
Daneisha Johnson
Daneisha Johnson
22:20 19 May 22
Dr. Askari was very kind and explained everything so I could understand. The other staff were nice as well. I would... have gave 5 stars but I was a little taken aback when I checked in and had to pay 600.00 upfront. I think that should have been discussed in a appointment confirmation call or email just so I could have been more
Jean Cooper
Jean Cooper
16:54 29 Apr 22
I love the office staff they are friendly and very helpful. Dr. JODIE is very caring and understanding to your needs... and wants to help you. I will go back. would recommend Dr. Dr. Jodie to other Patients in a heart beat. The team works well more
Linda M
Linda M
19:40 02 Apr 22
I was obviously stressed, needing to see a neurologist. The staff was so patient and Dr. Ansari was so kind. At one... point he told me to relax, we have time, when I was relaying my history of my condition. That helped ease my stress. I have seen 3 other neurologists and he was the only one who performed any assessment tests on my cognitive and physical skills. At one point I couldn't complete two assessments and got upset and cried. I was told, it's OK. That's why you're here. I was truly impressed, and super pleased with the whole experience!read more
Leslie Durham
Leslie Durham
15:05 01 Apr 22
I've been coming here for about 5 years. The staff are ALWAYS friendly and knowledgeable. The Doctors are the absolute... best!! Jodie Moore is always in such a great mood which is a plus when you are already stressed. Highly recommendedread more
Monica Del Bosque
Monica Del Bosque
14:13 25 Mar 22
Since my first post my thoughts have changed here. It's unfortunate. My doctor and PA were great, but the office staff... is horrible. They never call you back when they say they will, they misinform you, they cause you too much stress wondering what's going on, they don't keep you posted. They never answer the phone. At this point I've left four messages in the last week, and I have sent three messages. Twice from their portal and one direct email. No response. My appointment is on Monday morning at 8:30am, no confirmation on my insurance and what's going on. What the heck is going on, this is ridiculous!I've given up... the stress her office staff has put me through is just not worth it. You can do so much better, please clean house, either change out your office staff, or find a way for them to be more efficient please. You have to do something. This is not how you want to run your practice. It leaves a very bad impression on your more
Ron Buckholz
Ron Buckholz
23:32 23 Mar 22
I was actually pleasantly surprised with this visit! It took me a long time to get the appointment scheduled because no... one answers your phones EVER! After a month, I finally got in, and your staff was warm, friendly, and I was totally impressed! I feel like you will take care of my needs!read more
Steve Nabavi
Steve Nabavi
16:28 16 Mar 22
It was a nice visit. Happy staff doing all they can do to comfort the patients in a very calming environment. You ask... me they are earned a big gold star on the fridge. My only complaint they didn't give me any more
Katie Lewis
Katie Lewis
16:10 10 Feb 22
Had very positive appointments with Jodie and Dr. Sheth for my migraine care. Jodie was so fast with the injections and... has so much valuable info. I started to feel light headed during checkout and the staff was SO helpful—giving me a chair, water, and taking me into a private room until I felt better. Highly recommend this practice for migraine patients, they know what they’re doing!!read more
Joshua Martinez
Joshua Martinez
16:02 10 Dec 21
I was scheduled to be checked and just want to say that the staff was fantastic. They were kind and helpful. I was... asked many questions related to what was going on and not once did I feel as though I was being brushed off. The front desk staff was especially great in assisting me. I'm scheduled to go back for a mri and am glad that I'll be going more
Isabel Ivy
Isabel Ivy
21:42 03 Nov 21
I had such a good experience with Lone Star Neurology, Brent my MRI Tech was so awesome and made sure I was very... comfortable during the appointment. He gave me ear plugs, a pillow, leg support and blanket, easiest MRI ever lol 🤣 My 72 hour EEG nurse Amanda was also so awesome. She made sure I was take care of over the 3 days and took her time with the electrodes to make sure it was comfortable for me! Paige was also a huge help in answering all my questions when it came to my test results, and letting me know her honest opinions about how I should go forth with my more
Leslie Luce
Leslie Luce
17:37 20 Oct 21
The professionalism and want to help attitude of this office was present from the moment I contacted them. The follow... up and follow through as well as their willingness to find a way to schedule my dad was above and beyond. We visited two offices in the same day with the same experience. I am appreciative of this—we spend a lot of time with doctors and this was top notch start to more
robert Parker
robert Parker
16:38 16 Apr 21
I love going to this office. The staff is friendly and helpful. The doctor is great. I am getting the best... neurological tests and treatment I have ever had. The only reason I did not give them a 5 star rating is because it is impossible to reach a live person at the office to reschedule appointments. Every time I have tried to get through to the office it says all people are busy and I am sent to a voicemail. If they could get their phone answering fixed, I would give them a strong 5 more
MaryAnn Hornbaker
MaryAnn Hornbaker
00:26 25 Feb 21
Dr. Harney is an excellent Dr. I found him friendly , personable and thorough. I evidently am an unusual case. ... Therefore he spent a Hugh amount of time educating me. He even gave me literature to further explain my condition and how to follow up. This is something you rarely get from your doctors. So I am more than please with my doctor and his more
Roger Arguello
Roger Arguello
03:05 29 Jan 21
Always courteous, professional. The staff is very friendly and always work with you to find the best appointment time.... The care team has been great. Always taking the time to listen to your concerns and to find the best more
Margaret Rowland
Margaret Rowland
01:12 27 Jan 21
I have been a patient at Lone Star Neurology for several years. Now both my adult daughters also are patients there. I... love Jodie. She is always so prompt whether it is a teleamed call are a visit in the office. She takes the time to explain everything to me and answers all my questions. I am so blessed to have Jodie as my more
Susan Miller
Susan Miller
03:01 13 Jan 21
My husband had an accident 5 years ago and Lone Star Neurology has been such a blessing to us with my husbands care.... Jodie Moore is his provider and she is amazing! Jodie is very knowledgeable, caring, and thorough. She takes her time with you, making sure your needs are met and she is happy to answer any questions you may have. Lone Star Neurology’s patients are very lucky to have Jodie providing their care. Thank you Lone Star Neurology and especially Jodie for everything you have done for us. Jodie, you are the best!read more
Windalyn C
Windalyn C
01:32 09 Jan 21
Jodie is wonderful. She is very caring and knowledgeable. I have been to over a dozen neurologists, and none were able... to help me as much as they have here. Thanks!read more
Katie Kordel
Katie Kordel
00:40 09 Jan 21
Jodi Moore, nurse practitioner, is amazing. I have suffered from frequent, debilitating headaches for almost 20 years.... She has provided the best proactive and responsive care I have ever received. My quality of life has been greatly improved by her caring approach and tenacity in finding more
Ellie Natsis
Ellie Natsis
15:41 07 Jan 21
I have had the best experience at this neurologist's office! For over a year I have been receiving iv treatments here... each month and my nurse, Bobbie is beyond wonderful!! She's so attentive, knowledgeable, caring, and detail oriented. She makes an otherwise uncomfortable experience much more pleasant and definitely puts me at ease! She also helps me with my insurance,ordering this specialty medication and dealing with the ordering process which is no easy feat.Needless to say, she goes above a beyond in every way and I'm so grateful to this office and to Bobbie for all they do for me!read more
Matt Morris
Matt Morris
15:39 07 Jan 21
Let me start by saying that I have been coming here for years. Due to my autoimmune disease, I am in this office... once every three weeks for multiple hours at a time. The office is very clean and the staff very friendly. My only complaint would be there communication via phone. They aren't the best at responding if you leave a voicemail and expect a call back. I understand that this is prob just due to the sheer number of alls they receive daily. What I can say I like the best about the office are the people. Bobby who handles my infusions is great. I never have any issues with her setting up my infusions. She is very quick to reply to messages sent via text and if she were to leave then my whole opinion of the office may change. I also enjoy people like Matt, Lauren, and Jodi. I appreciate all that they do for me and without this team I'm not sure I would be as happy as I am to visit the office as frequently as I have to. Please ensure that these folks are recognized as they are what makes my visit to this office so tolerable :).read more
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