The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) defines schizophrenia as “a serious mental illness that interferes with a person’s ability to think, manage emotions, make decisions and relate to others.” This condition is highly complex, and it is usually long-lasting. Schizophrenia affects less than one percent of the U.S. population. When schizophrenia is active, symptoms can severely impact a person’s functioning. However, with treatment in Boise, Idaho, most symptoms of schizophrenia will significantly improve, and the likelihood of a recurrence can be diminished.
Through Ashwood Recovery’s schizophrenia treatment program in Boise, Idaho, you or your loved one can receive comprehensive treatment critical to learning to manage this complex mental health disorder. Contact our team today at 208.274.8609.
Symptoms of schizophrenia can begin at any age, although it tends to affect men in their teens to early 20s. It tends to occur in the late 20s to early 30s in women. The condition is not commonly found in people before 12 or after 40. Fortunately, living a long, happy, and fulfilled life with schizophrenia is possible. Getting the proper treatment makes a big difference.
Schizophrenia symptoms are divided into three categories: positive, negative, and cognitive.
Positive symptoms include:
- Unusual or disorganized thinking and speech
- Agitated body movements
- Losing touch with some aspects of reality
- Catatonic or bizarre behavior
Negative symptoms include:
- Flat affect – facial expressions or voice tones are reduced or void of emotion
- Reduced pleasure in everyday life
- Lack of motivation
- Difficulty sustaining activities of daily living
- Reduced speech
Cognitive symptoms include:
- Problems understanding information
- Problems using the information to make decisions
- Difficulty focusing
- Memory problems
- Being unable to use information that has just been received
There is no clear understanding of what causes schizophrenia. Still, research shows that the brains of most people who have schizophrenia are physically different compared to those who do not, suggesting that brain development may play a role. There is also evidence that chemical imbalances, specifically dopamine and glutamate, are factors. Genetic and environmental influences also come into play.
For a diagnosis, symptoms must be present for at least one month and cannot be caused by drug or alcohol use. Schizophrenia can be effectively treated and managed with a combination of medication, therapy, and a strong support network.
Risk Factors for Schizophrenia
Various developmental theories of schizophrenia indicate that problems occurring during brain development could be to blame. This is when millions of neurons are formed and specialized in doing their jobs. Several different issues can occur during this process, such as:
- A viral infection.
- A hormonal imbalance.
- Problems with genetic coding.
- Nutritional stress.
Any disruption can lead to brain structure becoming disorganized. Researchers think that risk factors for schizophrenia are closely related to fetal development. For example, it appears to be more common in people born during the spring or winter. It is also seen in people whose mothers were nutritionally deficient during their first trimesters.
Differences Between Schizophrenia and Schizoaffective Disorder
Schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder are often confused as the same disorder. Proper diagnosis is critical to receiving proper and effective treatment. Individuals with schizoaffective disorder experience the same symptoms as those with schizophrenia but have the additional symptoms of a mood disorder like mania or depression. Mood disorder symptoms are the critical difference between schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder. There are two types of schizoaffective disorder:
- Depressive type schizoaffective disorder: experiencing schizophrenia symptoms with episodes of major depressive disorder but no mania.
- Bipolar type schizoaffective disorder: experiencing schizophrenia symptoms with major depression and mania episodes.
Because schizoaffective disorder involves schizophrenia and either major depression or bipolar disorder, it is frequently misdiagnosed as one or the other. Here are the criteria for meeting a diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder:
- Symptoms are not caused by drug use
- Hallucinations or delusions for at least two weeks, without symptoms of a major mood episode
- Symptoms of a major mood episode occur for a majority of the extent of the illness
- Presence of a major depressive or major manic episode in conjunction with symptoms of schizophrenia