Schizophrenia is a mental health disorder characterized by psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions, disorganized speech, as well as others that affect emotional response and social interactions. There is no one identifiable cause for the disorder. Instead, it is thought to be caused by a combination of genetic, biochemical, and environmental risk factors.
It is estimated that up to two million people in the United States struggle with this chronic illness. The symptoms not only make life difficult but also impair daily functioning, impact physical health, and contribute to social and economic complications. For all of these reasons, it’s important for someone with symptoms indicative of the disorder to get professional treatment to determine whether or not schizophrenia is the cause and get the support they need.
If you or someone you know is struggling with symptoms of schizophrenia and are looking for a psychotherapist in Beverly Hills, we encourage you to contact Blair Wellness Group. We have experience treating all forms of schizophrenia as well as other mental health disorders such as bipolar, depression, anxiety, addiction, and more.
Types of Schizophrenia
There are five different forms of schizophrenia, each one characterized by the symptoms a person has. Identifying the type of disorder in this way helps health professions create more meaningful and effective care plans.
Paranoid schizophrenia is the most common type of schizophrenia and is most widely recognized. Individuals with paranoid schizophrenia exhibit symptoms of hallucinations and/or delusions.
A person with disorganized schizophrenia will exhibit disorganized speech or behaviors without hallucinations or delusions.
Someone diagnosed with residual schizophrenia may have had symptoms early in life but no longer exhibit delusions, hallucinations, or disorganized speech and behavior. They may, however, still show signs of having some negative symptoms such as odd emotional responses to situations or difficulty with impulse control.
A person diagnosed with catatonic type schizophrenia will exhibit peculiar motor activity responses or, in some cases, no response at all. Symptoms may include limited physical or verbal response to stimuli or mimicking another person’s speech or movements.
Undifferentiated may be the term used when a person meets the basic criteria to be diagnosed with schizophrenia, but they do not fit within one of the established types.
Symptoms of Schizophrenia
Symptoms of schizophrenia commonly develop when a person is in their late teens and up to their early thirties, and it is uncommon for someone to develop the disorder after age 45. Symptoms may start to show in adolescence and then slowly progress, or in some people, they may appear suddenly.
There are several different symptoms associated with schizophrenia, many of which are also common with other mental health conditions. To be diagnosed with schizophrenia, however, a person will need to have had at least two of the signature symptoms — hallucinations, delusions, or disorganized speech — for a period of at least one month.
Besides the characteristic symptoms, there are several others that may accompany them, although the type and severity will vary from person to person. To better understand them, the symptoms of schizophrenia can generally be grouped into three types:
Psychotic symptoms distort a person’s way of thinking. They include things such as hallucinations, delusions, peculiar motor activity, and various forms of unusual thinking. The term hallucination is used to describe seeing or hearing something that is not there while delusions refer to believing something that is not real.
This category of symptoms is related to showing emotions and being able to function normally. They include things such as reduced facial expressions, lack of motivation, and a loss of interest in things once enjoyed. Negative symptoms tend to make people withdraw from social situations and affect their ability to experience pleasure.
As the name suggests, cognitive symptoms affect thinking and memory. Where cognitive symptoms are prominent, a person may have trouble paying attention, processing information, or making decisions based on the information they have been given.
Although the exact cause of schizophrenia is unknown, it is believed to be linked to certain genetic, environmental, and biochemical factors.
People who come from a family with a history of the disorder tend to have a higher risk of developing it. However, because several factors influence the development of schizophrenia and there is no single gene that causes the disorder, just because a family member has been diagnosed with it doesn’t mean it will develop in another.
Aspects of an individual’s environment may also play a role in the development of schizophrenia. Factors such as living in stressful surroundings and exposure to certain viruses while still in the womb are two potential environmental causes thought to influence the disorder.
Each person’s unique brain function and chemistry can play a part in whether or not they develop schizophrenia. For instance, an imbalance in certain neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin is commonly found in those who have the disorder.
Schizophrenia is a serious mental disorder that requires lifelong treatment. Without it, symptoms can get worse and complications may develop that can have a profound impact on health, happiness, and quality of life. Symptoms can also make it difficult to maintain positive relationships, go to work or school, and affect virtually every area of your life. Because of this, people may turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms, experience social isolation, or develop additional mental health disorders. Some of the complications often associated with schizophrenia include:
- Anxiety disorders
- Drug or alcohol abuse
- Financial problems because a person can’t work
- Family or relationship problems
Treatment for Schizophrenia
Because schizophrenia is such a complex disorder, treatment often focuses on managing symptoms and improving day-to-day function. Consistently following a treatment plan is the best way to prevent the worsening of symptoms and relapses. Dr. Cassidy Blair of Blair Wellness Group is a psychotherapist in Beverly Hills who is dedicated to offering personalized treatment and effective solutions in a supportive and nurturing environment. Call today at 310.999.4996 to schedule an appointment.
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