Schizophrenia is a serious mental disorder that affects an individual’s ability to interpret reality. It is characterized as a combination of hallucinations, delusions, and disordered thinking and behavior.
Symptoms of schizophrenia involve problems with thinking, behavior and emotions and may include:
- Delusions (false beliefs not based in reality)
- Hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren’t there)
- Disorganized thinking and speech (impaired effective communication, answers to questions may be partially or completely unrelated)
- Abnormal motor behavior (may show in a number of ways, from childlike silliness to unpredictable agitation, resistance to instructions, inappropriate or bizarre posture, a complete lack of response)
- Negative symptoms (reduced ability to function normally, e.g. neglecting personal hygiene, apparent lack of emotion – avoiding eye contact, speaking in monotone, loss of interest in everyday activities, social withdrawal, loss of ability to experience pleasure)
Symptoms will vary in type and severity among individuals. There are periods of improvement and decline; however, some symptoms may always be present.
Men may start experiencing symptoms in their early to mid-20s, while women may typically begin to show symptoms in their late 20s.
Symptoms in Teenagers
Schizophrenia symptoms in teenagers are similar to those of adults, however, they are much more difficult to recognize. That is because early symptoms in schizophrenia in teenagers are similar to those that are common in the developmental years, such as:
- Withdrawal from friends and family
- Trouble sleeping
- Lack of motivation
- Irritability or depressed mood
- A drop in performance at school
Teenagers are less likely to have delusions, but more likely to have visual hallucinations.
What Are the Causes Of Schizophrenia?
The causes of schizophrenia are unknown, but researchers believe that it is caused by a combination of genetics, brain chemistry, and the environment.
There are certain factors that increase the risk of developing or triggering schizophrenia, such as:
- Family history of schizophrenia
- Some pregnancy and birth complications
- Taking psychoactive or psychotropic drugs during teen and young adult years
When Should You See a Doctor
Individuals who are suffering from schizophrenia lack awareness, which is why it is up to their friends and family to see the signs and get them the help that they need.