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Schizophrenia: Introduction

Schizophrenia is a type of serious mental health disorder called a psychotic disorder. Schizophrenia causes alterations in the brain and the way it perceives reality resulting in the hallmark symptoms of hallucinations and delusions. Schizophrenia can seriously affect a person's personality and behavior and interfere with the ability to function effectively in everyday life.

The exact cause of schizophrenia is unknown but there is a genetic component and it does tend to run in families. People who have a family member with schizophrenia are more likely to develop the disorder than the general population. It is also believed by some researchers that schizophrenia may also be due to over activity the neurotransmitter dopamine, a chemical in the brain that is vital to normal functioning of the brain and nervous system. Schizophrenia may also be linked to damage to the brain done during fetal development and early childhood due to head injury, birth complications, malnutrition, viral infections, or encephalitis, an infection of the brain.

Schizophrenia is characterized by hallucinations, alterations in sensory perceptions, and delusions, which are false beliefs. Symptoms tend to occur in episodes and can begin with inappropriate or disconnected patterns of speech, social detachment and blank stares. Schizophrenia can also seriously affect emotion and movement. Complications of schizophrenia include self-harm, self-destructive behaviors, and serious difficulties in work, personal relationships, and self-care. For more information on symptoms and complications, refer to symptoms of schizophrenia.

There is no specific test that can diagnose schizophrenia. Making a diagnosis of schizophrenia begins with taking a thorough medical history, including symptoms, and completing a complete physical examination and mental health exam. Assessment and tests are also performed to ensure that symptoms are not due to other treatable medical conditions, such as a brain tumor, migraine, and hypoglycemia. Symptoms may also be due to the side effect of prescribed medications or the effect of recreational drugs, such as LSD or methamphetamine.

A referral to a psychiatrist or other licensed mental health provider is made to aid in the diagnosis and treatment of schizophrenia. Hospitalization and observation is often needed during an acute episode of suspected schizophrenia in order to ensure safety and complete a diagnosis.

It is possible that a diagnosis of schizophrenia can be missed or delayed because a person with the disorder may not seek care because of the stigma associated with mental illness. In addition, symptoms of schizophrenia can be vague or associated with other conditions. For more information on misdiagnosis and conditions and diseases that can mimic schizophrenia, refer to misdiagnosis of schizophrenia.

There is no specific cure for schizophrenia, but it can be successfully treated and controlled in many cases. Treatment generally includes a combination of medications and psychotherapy. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of schizophrenia. ...more »

Schizophrenia: A psychiatric disorder characterized by hallucinations and delusional beliefs where a person is unable to distinguish between reality and imagination. The condition tends to have a chronic nature and can be severely debilitating if treatment isn't sought. More detailed information about the symptoms, causes, and treatments of Schizophrenia is available below.

Schizophrenia: Symptoms

The severity and types of symptoms of schizophrenia vary from person to person. The hallmark symptom of schizophrenia is a disconnection with reality due to hallucinations, alterations in sensory perceptions, and delusions, false beliefs. In most cases a person with schizophrenia not only experiences hallucinations and/or delusions but is convinced that they ...more symptoms »

Schizophrenia: Treatments

The overall treatment goal for schizophrenia is to minimize symptoms so that people with the disorder can live as functional, independent, and productive lives as possible. There is no cure for schizophrenia, but consistent ongoing compliance with a multifaceted treatment program can often effectively control symptoms and prevent relapses of acute episodes of symptoms. To be most effective, ...more treatments »

Schizophrenia: Misdiagnosis

A diagnosis of schizophrenia may be missed or delayed because people with schizophrenia may fear the stigma of or be embarrassed by mental illness and not seek treatment. In addition, people with schizophrenia often are unaware that their hallucinations and delusions are not real. They may not recognize that they are having symptoms or that their behavior has become ...more misdiagnosis »

Symptoms of Schizophrenia

Treatments for Schizophrenia

Home Diagnostic Testing

Home medical testing related to Schizophrenia:

Wrongly Diagnosed with Schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia: Related Patient Stories

Schizophrenia: Deaths

Read more about Deaths and Schizophrenia.

Curable Types of Schizophrenia

Possibly curable types of Schizophrenia include:

  • HIV infection related schizophrenia
  • Systemic infection related schizophrenia
  • Epilepsy related schizophrenia
  • Syphilis related schizophrenia
  • more types...»

Rare Types of Schizophrenia:

Rare types of Schizophrenia include:

  • HIV infection related schizophrenia
  • Systemic infection related schizophrenia
  • Epilepsy related schizophrenia
  • Syphilis related schizophrenia
  • Undifferentiated type schizophrenia
  • more types...»

Schizophrenia: Complications

Review possible medical complications related to Schizophrenia:

Causes of Schizophrenia

  • Hereditary is a significant risk factor for schizophrenia and there have been a number of genes which have been linked to a susceptibility for developing schizophrenia. A genetic risk coupled with an environmental trigger are considered the main cause of schizophrenia by many experts. There also appears to be a link between maternal genital or reproductive infection at the time of conception to an increased risk of developing schizophrenia in the baby
  • more causes...»

More information about causes of Schizophrenia:

Disease Topics Related To Schizophrenia

Research the causes of these diseases that are similar to, or related to, Schizophrenia:

Schizophrenia: Undiagnosed Conditions

Commonly undiagnosed diseases in related medical categories:

Misdiagnosis and Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia often has misdiagnosed hidden cause: The book "Preventing Misdiagnosis of Women" reports on a study citing that 83% of more »

Underactive thryoid may be misdiagnosed as depression: Hypothyroidism, or underactive thyroid, is an endocrine gland disorder that is more common in women. It can mimic more »

Adrenal gland disorder difficult to correctly diagnose: Addison's disease, a disorder of the adrenal glands, causes a variety of symptoms, and is often misdiagnosed in early stages. Common misdiagnoses include more »

Cushing's disease can be mistaken for depression: Cushing's disease (or similarly Cushing's syndrome) is a possible misdiagnosis for a more »

Manic-depressive (bipolar) disorder often misdiagnosed: Bipolar disorder, also called manic-depressive disorder, is often misdiagnosed before reaching a more »

Epilepsy misdiagnosed as schizophrenia: The book "Preventing Misdiagnosis of Women" reports on a case of a woman diagnosed with schizophrenia, but later diagnosed with a form of epilepsy called " more »

Simple hearing loss can be misdiagnosed: Elderly patients can be misdiagnosed owing to symptoms of paranoia, when the underlying cause is really simple hearing loss. Due to their inability to hear properly what people are saying, more »

Various mental health symptoms caused by rare epilepsy: Temporal lobe epilepsy is a less common form of epilepsy that does not have the typical physical seizures. Patients more »

Rare seizure-less epilepsy misdiagnosed as various conditions: A complex partial seizure disorder, such as temporal lobe epilepsy can be misdiagnosed as various conditions. Some more »

Lupus is often misdiagnosed as other conditions: Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), often simply called "lupus", is a difficult disease to diagnose and can manifest with numerous more »

Rare copper disease insidious and misdiagnosed: Wilson's disease (a form of copper overload) is a rare disorder that has a slow and more »

Undiagnosed stroke leads to misdiagnosed aphasia: BBC News UK reported on a man who had been institutionalized and treated for mental illness because he suffered from sudden inability to speak. more »

Dementia may be a drug interaction: A common scenario in aged care is for a patient to show mental decline to dementia. Whereas this can, of course, occur due to various medical conditions, such as a more »

Mild traumatic brain injury often remains undiagnosed: Although the symptoms of severe brain injury are hard to miss, it is less clear for milder injuries, more »

ADHD under-diagnosed in adults: Although the over-diagnoses of ADHD in children is a well-known controversy, the reverse side related to adults. Some adults more »

MTBI misdiagnosed as balance problem: When a person has symptoms such as vertigo or dizziness, a diagnosis of brain injury may go overlooked. This is particularly true of mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI), for which the symptoms more »

Bipolar disorder misdiagosed as various conditions by primary physicians: Bipolar disorder (manic-depressive disorder) often fails to be diagnosed correctly by primary care physicians. more »

Eating disorders under-diagnosed in men: The typical patient with an eating disorder is female. The result is that men with eating disorders often fail to be diagnosed or have a more »

Depression undiagnosed in teenagers: Serious bouts of depression can be undiagnosed in teenagers. The "normal" moodiness of teenagers can cause severe medical depression to be overlooked. See misdiagnosis of more »

Brain pressure condition often misdiagnosed as dementia: A condition that results from an excessive pressure of CSF within the brain is often misdiagnosed. It may more »

Post-concussive brain injury often misdiagnosed: A study found that soldiers who had suffered a concussive injury in battle often were misdiagnosed on their return. A variety more »

Children with migraine often misdiagnosed: A migraine often fails to be correctly diagnosed in pediatric patients. These patients are not the more »

Undiagnosed anxiety disorders related to depression: Patients with depression (see symptoms of depression) may also have undiagnosed anxiety disorders (see symptoms of more »

Schizophrenia: Research Doctors & Specialists

Research related physicians and medical specialists:

Other doctor, physician and specialist research services:

Hospitals & Clinics: Schizophrenia

Research quality ratings and patient safety measures for medical facilities in specialties related to Schizophrenia:

Choosing the Best Hospital: More general information, not necessarily in relation to Schizophrenia, on hospital performance and surgical care quality:

Schizophrenia: Rare Types

Rare types of diseases and disorders in related medical categories:

Schizophrenia: Animations

Prognosis for Schizophrenia

Prognosis for Schizophrenia: Treatment can alleviate symptoms but patients often tend to suffer symptoms throughout the rest of their lives. Treatment plans must be adhered to in order to avoid complications such as suicide or acts of violence. The best prognosis is achieved by early management of the condition with strict adherence to the treatment plan. Factors which increase the risk of a good prognosis:

  • Being female
  • Rapid onset of symptoms
  • Increased age of onset
  • Mainly positive rather than negative symptoms
  • Presence of mood symptoms
  • Good level of functioning before illness
  • Good support network and positive attitude from people around them

Research about Schizophrenia

Visit our research pages for current research about Schizophrenia treatments.

Clinical Trials for Schizophrenia

The US based website lists information on both federally and privately supported clinical trials using human volunteers.

Some of the clinical trials listed on for Schizophrenia include:

Statistics for Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia: Broader Related Topics

Schizophrenia Message Boards

Related forums and medical stories:

User Interactive Forums

Read about other experiences, ask a question about Schizophrenia, or answer someone else's question, on our message boards:

Definitions of Schizophrenia:

Class of psychoses with disturbance mainly of cognition (content and form of thought, perception, sense of self versus external world, volition) and psychomotor function, rather than affect. - (Source - Diseases Database)

Any of several psychotic disorders characterized by distortions of reality and disturbances of thought and language and withdrawal from social contact - (Source - WordNet 2.1)


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