We’ve all seen schizophrenia portrayed in the movies, television or on documentaries. We’ve heard celebrities talk about their interactions with the disorder, whether with people they hold near and dear or personal battles they’ve had. However, there’s still a lot of mystery that shrouds the mental illness. What is schizophrenia? Is it possible to be genetically predisposed to develop symptoms? These are all questions that many of us ask and we’re going to seek to answer for you today.
First, it’s important to know that schizophrenia is not something to be afraid of. While some of symptoms of schizophrenia can be very severe and intense, that’s not the case for many people. People who suffer from schizophrenia are not “crazy.” They’re suffering from an imbalance of chemicals in their brain which makes it difficult to interact with and understand reality.
What Causes Schizophrenia?
As is the case with many mental disorders, the causes of schizophrenia are not completely known, discovered or fully researched at this point. What we do know, is that there’s a wide variety of factors that all interact together to cause schizophrenia in an individual. Knowing this information can be invaluable especially if you have a family member who has schizophrenia.
If you have a close relative with schizophrenia, you are at higher risk for developing the disorder. If you’re a twin and your twin sibling has the disorder, you have a 40-65% chance of being schizophrenic as well. Other relatives such as an aunt or uncle, etc means the percentage is significantly lower.
Despite all of the gene research that has been done over the years, scientists have not been able to identify a specific gene as being the source of schizophrenia. Genetic mutations are believed to contribute toward the disruption of a brain and its development.
We are all products of our environments and that shapes who we are. This is true with schizophrenia as well. Any health issues before or after your birth can affect it, as well as the environment you grew up in. Specifics have not been defined but scientists are continually working on finding answers to these questions.
When the Sun Bursts: The Enigma of Schizophrenia
What Are The Symptoms Of Schizophrenia?
Signs and symptoms of schizophrenia can vary widely. Different people experience symptoms differently and at varied levels of intensity. Doctors identify positive or negative symptoms in a patient with schizophrenia.
Positive symptoms involve things that start happening in addition to an individual’s normal actions and behaviors.
A common “positive symptom” is hallucinations. These can be very difficult for someone to deal with, because they often will hear voices in their heads or see things that no one else sees. Oftentimes these hallucinations produce negative feelings which cause people to be worried or fearful. They often become removed from other people and have a hard time differentiating between what is real and what is in their minds.
Confused thoughts and speech is another common positive symptom. Oftentimes, their thoughts become jumbled and people have a difficult time organizing them enough to speak clearly. They can also have trouble following a line of conversation and being able to converse back-and-forth with family and friends.
In contrast, negative symptoms involve things that stop happening in an individual. They often involve big emotional swings from highs to lows, not often landing in between. These symptoms are more difficult to identify because they have a lot of similarities to depression or even just normal “teenage hormones.”
Becoming emotionless is a relatively common negative symptom that many experience. They become removed and don’t want to talk to others. When something exciting happens, they appear to have little to no reaction.
Patients with negative symptoms can also become withdrawn. They might cancel fun plans or stop showing up to gatherings like they used to. They often find social situations to be extremely overwhelming and find talking to people to be too difficult.
Schizophrenia: A Blueprint for Recovery
Schizophrenia is a disorder that effects people of all ages, ranging from children to adults. While receiving a diagnosis can be a difficult reality to face, there are an amazing amount of resources, support circles, and knowledge out there to help live a full, happy life with schizophrenia.