Schizophrenia: causes, symptoms, treatment, prognosis

Schizophrenia is a serious mental disorder in which unity of thought is lost and social functioning becomes difficult. Schizophrenia affects approximately one percent of all people on this planet. What are the causes and symptoms of schizophrenia? What treatment options are there and what is the prognosis? Does schizophrenia also occur in children?

Article content

  • Schizophrenia
  • Split personality
  • Causes of schizophrenia
  • Symptoms of schizophrenia
  • What is a psychosis?
  • Diagnosis of schizophrenia
  • Schizophrenia treatment
  • Schizophrenia prognosis
  • Schizophrenia in children
  • New developments (July 2014)



You can describe schizophrenia as a serious psychiatric disorder that is accompanied by psychoses. Someone with schizophrenia loses touch with reality. One in a hundred people suffer from the disease. Schizophrenia occurs in all walks of life and is slightly more common in men than in women. In men, the disease usually manifests itself between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five, and in women between the ages of approximately twenty-five and forty-five.

Split personality

Schizophrenia is often referred to as split personality. This is not correct, a split personality is a different disorder, namely Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD). Patient association Anoiksis presented a different name for schizophrenia four years ago because patients and family members find it very annoying that schizophrenia is often associated with dual personality. The name, the dysfunctional perception syndrome, emphasizes that it concerns an incorrect, dysfunctional interpretation of perception in the brain.

Causes of schizophrenia

There is no single cause for schizophrenia, hereditary elements seem to play a major role. Someone who has a close relative with schizophrenia is more at risk of developing the condition. The brain structure may show defects, for example ventricles that are larger than normal. Situations with stress can make someone so vulnerable that psychosis has the chance. Schizophrenia often manifests itself during puberty, when a person experiences major personal changes.

Symptoms of schizophrenia

The condition usually develops slowly: over a few months or a few years. The person seems less energetic, less motivated and becomes increasingly withdrawn. However, the process can also take place quickly, the symptoms are then reminiscent of a reaction to tensions.

  • Hearing voices (hallucinations);
  • Delusions;
  • Emotions that are not correct (laughing when something is said that is sad) or a lack of emotions;
  • Each time addressing a new topic;
  • Loss of coherence in speaking and thinking;
  • Show less initiative;
  • An excited feeling;
  • A restless feeling;
  • Thinking takes more time;
  • Movement is slower;
  • Someone has difficulty concentrating;
  • Someone can become gloomy, withdraw;
  • In rare cases, aggressive towards others;
  • Neglect when someone doesn’t get help


What is a psychosis?

Someone who is psychotic has lost normal contact with reality. Processing information causes problems. The person may suffer from hallucinations, delusions, and confused thinking.

  • During a psychosis, a person may perceive something that is not actually there. Hearing voices is the most common hallucination . These voices can respond to the person’s behavior, orders can also be given. Hallucinations can be very difficult and if someone reacts to the voices, this can lead to disturbed behavior.
  • Delusions occur when a person has ideas or beliefs that do not correspond to generally accepted ideas or beliefs. For example, someone may think that he or she has special qualities. It is difficult to dissuade someone from these kinds of thoughts.
  • Often it is not possible to think sensibly, the connection between thoughts can be lost: confused thinking . Someone can think too fast, but also too slowly, or incoherently.
  • It can be very difficult to understand someone who is psychotic, and the person who is psychotic may have difficulty understanding others.


Diagnosis of schizophrenia

If you think someone may be schizophrenic, contact a doctor. This person can then see whether the person has deviating ideas, whether there is a break with reality and a difficult emotional life. The diagnosis can be made if these symptoms persist for months. The person will undergo further neuropsychological examination and an extensive physical examination will be performed.

Schizophrenia treatment

  • The person is probably given antipsychotics to gain more control over their thoughts. Approximately three to six weeks should be allowed to treat the most serious symptoms. The medications can have unpleasant side effects such as tremors and weight gain. The medication can be adjusted or other medications can be chosen. Patients receive information about the disease, which is also important for family members. How to deal with the effects of the disease.
  • After someone with schizophrenia has been treated, he or she can usually return home. A calm and safe environment and support is very important. It is also possible that the choice falls on a sheltered form of housing. Anti-psychotic medications must be used for a long time because the risk of psychotic episodes remains. Monitoring by a doctor is necessary. Talk therapy may be recommended, including for family members.


Schizophrenia prognosis

Approximately one fifth of people with schizophrenia experience the condition once, but after recovery they lead a normal life again. But most of the time, schizophrenia is a lifelong illness. There are often good and bad periods. In bad periods, admission may be necessary. Medicines have improved the prognosis, and early treatment is also important, immediately after the first symptoms appear. The prognosis is less favorable in people who gradually develop the disease at a young age.

Schizophrenia in children

Schizophrenia in children under the age of twelve is very rare, it is estimated that it occurs in one in forty thousand children. The risk factors are largely the same in children as in adults. In general, the earlier the onset of schizophrenia, the worse the prognosis. Cannabis (cannabis products such as hashish and weed/marijuana come from the hemp plant) is said to significantly increase the risk of schizophrenia. If someone starts smoking cannabis early, this will increase the risk of schizophrenia at a young age. As with adults, treatment will be a combination of medications, education and psychosocial interventions. It is important that the family around the child is involved in the treatment. With regard to school, it is important to consider what information must be provided to the school in order to properly guide the child. If medication does not help sufficiently with delusions and hallucinations, cognitive behavioral therapy can be used (in addition to the medication).

New developments (July 2014)

The most extensive genetic research into schizophrenia to date has identified more than a hundred gene variants linked to the brain disease. The DNA of 37,000 people with schizophrenia was compared with that of 113,000 healthy people. The result: 108 gene variants that influence the development of schizophrenia. 83 of the 108 are new, most have to do with the functioning of the brain, but a small number play a role in the immune system. It is hoped that the results will give a boost to research into the brain disease.

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