What is Schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a serious, chronic mental illness that impacts the way a person thinks, acts, and feels. Symptoms include delusions, hallucinations, and disordered thought. Onset of schizophrenia is typically between the ages of 16 and 30. It is believed that schizophrenia is caused by many different factors including genetics, brain chemistry, environmental factors, and substance misuse.

Contrary to popular belief schizophrenia does not involve having multiple personalities or split personalities. Also, contrary to portrayals in pop culture, people who live with schizophrenia are not any more violent than neurotypical people, and are not a threat to others.

Warning signs for schizophrenia include seeing and hearing things that are not there, a constant feeling of being watched or followed, nonsensical patterns of speech and writing, lack of personal hygiene, extreme religious obsession, social withdrawal, an inability to sleep, dramatic change in personality, and irrational fear and anger.

Like many mental health disorders there is no cure for schizophrenia. It can be treated, however. A combination of antipsychotics, psychotherapy, and personal education and self-management strategies can be effective in managing symptoms of schizophrenia.

Schizophrenia is also often diagnosed co-morbidly with substance misuse/addiction, PTSD, OCD, and major depression.

For more information about Schizophrenia visit MHA’s website

This page was produced in partnership with the Plantory AmeriCorps VISTA network and Mental Health America of Kentucky.