Rolling Hills Hospital helps individuals struggling with schizophrenia build a strong foundation for long-term recovery. Serving Ada, near Oklahoma City, Rolling Hills Hospital is the premier provider of mental health & addiction treatment for adolescents, adults & seniors.
Learn about Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia, a mental health condition that can hinder a person’s functioning in several ways, includes symptoms that can be debilitating for a person if treatment is not received to alleviate symptoms. Individuals who suffer from this disorder frequently struggle to form coherent thoughts and speech, have a hard time deciphering between what is real and what is not, and present with behaviors that may seem odd to others. Additionally, the symptoms of this disorder can cause a great deal of distress as the hallucinations and delusions that are often present can increase a person’s anxiety and lead to intense feelings of paranoia.
Sufferers of schizophrenia are often at risk of abusing drugs and/or alcohol, as these individuals find false solace in escaping their distressing symptoms through substance use. Furthermore, people with this mental health condition may develop ideations of suicide or attempt to take their own lives as schizophrenia can cause a number of seemingly unbearable obstacles for a person on a daily basis. Fortunately, there are options for treatment available that can help individuals who are battling Schizophrenia. Through the use of medications and other therapeutic interventions, people grappling with schizophrenia can find relief from symptoms and restore healthy functioning.
The average age of onset for symptoms of schizophrenia is believed to be between late adolescence and mid-adulthood. Research has also found that men and women are equally affected by this mental illness. Lastly, in terms of the prevalence of this disorder, estimates suggest that approximately 1% of the overall population suffer from schizophrenia.
Causes and risk factors for schizophrenia
Professionals in the field of mental health agree that there are a number of causes and risk factors that can lead a person to suffer from schizophrenia. Research cites genetics, physiological composition, and environmental influences as the main contributors to the development of this illness. Consider the following explanations and risk factors that explain the causes for schizophrenia:
Genetic: Because of prevalence rates of schizophrenia among members who share similar genes, experts have concluded that this disorder is genetic. In fact, studies have found that 10% of individuals with schizophrenia have a biological family member with the same mental health history. In sum, a person’s genetic can be a determinant for an eventual diagnosis of schizophrenia.
Physical: Similar to other mental health disorders, those with schizophrenia are known to have certain chemical imbalances in their brains. Serotonin and dopamine, more specifically, are neurochemicals that are responsible for regulating mood and have been found at lower levels in those with this mental illness. Additionally, neuroimaging studies have found that individuals with schizophrenia have differing brain structures that can cause symptoms of this condition to manifest.
Environmental: Research has found that there are a number of environmental influences that can trigger the onset of schizophrenia symptoms. If a person is exposed to poor nutrition or certain viruses while in utero, there is an increased risk that an individual will develop this disorder. Additionally, some experts believe that complications during the childbirth process can make a person susceptible to displaying symptoms of schizophrenia later in life. Lastly, mental health professionals believe that certain mind-altering drugs can trigger the onset of this disorder as certain substances can significantly alter a person’s brain chemistry.
- Prenatal exposure to poor nutrition
- Prenatal exposure to viruses
- Preexisting autoimmune disease
- Family history of schizophrenia or other mental health condition(s)
- Personal history of mental health conditions(s)
- Presence of undiagnosed mental health condition(s)
- Being born to a father who is of advanced age
- Abusing mind-altering drugs
Signs and symptoms of schizophrenia
There are various signs and symptoms that infer a person is struggling with schizophrenia. Separated into negative, positive, and cognitive symptoms, the listed symptoms suggest an individual is grappling with this mental health condition:
Negative symptoms: The listed symptoms involve the absence of abilities or behaviors that would otherwise be present if a person was not suffering from this serious mental illness:
- Social isolation
- Poor hygiene
- Decline in interests or activities that were once considered pleasurable
- Loss of speech
- Flat affect or diminished facial expression
- Hindered ability to concentrate
Positive symptoms: When an individual is battling schizophrenia, behavior patterns or meddling thought processes that would otherwise not be present in a person who does not meet diagnostic criteria for this disorder are likely to occur:
- Incoherent speech
- Repetitious behaviors
Cognitive symptoms: Due to chemical imbalances in the brain, the following cognitive symptoms are known to occur and hinder normal brain functioning:
- Memory impairment
- Poor focus
- Impaired executive functioning
Effects of Schizophrenia
When a person does not receive treatment for schizophrenia, there is an increased risk for a number of devastating effects to occur. The symptoms of this disorder can worsen over time and ultimately cause the following in a person’s life:
- Decrease in quantity or quality of interpersonal relationships
- Inability to secure or maintain employment
- Development of another mental health condition(s)
- Substance use / abuse/ addiction / dependence
- Suicidal ideations
- Suicide attempts
Schizophrenia and co-occurring disorders
The distressing symptoms of schizophrenia have the ability to trigger the onset of symptoms of another mental illness. The hallucinations and delusions, more specifically, that are associated with this mental health condition can cause an individual to experience extreme levels of anxiety, paranoia, and intrusive obsessions and/or compulsions. Because of this, the following mental health disorders have the potential to occur alongside schizophrenia:
- Panic disorder
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Social anxiety disorder
- Schizotypal personality disorder
- Paranoid personality disorder
- Substance use disorders