Schizophrenia is a cognitive brain disorder that affects how people think and act. It is characterized prominently by psychosis which is characterized primarily by auditory and visual hallucinations. Schizophrenia affects 1 percent of the population worldwide and generally develops in the early to mid-twenties in both males and females.
Sovereign Health of Arizona offers a mental health treatment program for patients who live with schizophrenia to help them reclaim control of their lives.
Symptoms and Diagnosis of Schizophrenia
The clinical symptoms of schizophrenia can be divided into four categories:
- Positive symptoms – Psychotic symptoms, such as hallucinations, delusions, and disorganized speech and behavior
- Negative symptoms – Decreased emotions, flat affect, loss of interest, and lack of speech.
- Cognitive symptoms – Deficits in working memory and attention and in executive functions, such as the ability to organize. A deficit in interpersonal skills.
- Mood symptoms – Depression and emotionally labile and instable.
To make a clinical diagnosis, the individual must have experienced at least two of the following symptoms:
- Disorganized speech
- Disorganized or catatonic behavior
- Negative symptoms
Additionally, at least one of the symptoms must be the presence of delusions, hallucinations or disorganized speech. Hallucinations are defined as a sensory experience that does not persist outside of the minds. The most common types of hallucinations in schizophrenia are auditory and visual. Delusions are false realistic beliefs. For example, an individual with schizophrenia may believe that are an astronaut.
Continuous signs of the disturbance must persist for at least 6 months, during which the patient must experience at least 1 month of active symptoms. If symptoms are present for less than this duration, other related disorders should be considered such as schizophreniform disorder and schizoaffective disorder. Schizophreniform disorder has the same symptoms and diagnostic criteria except the duration of symptoms are less than six months but longer than one month.
Schizoaffective disorder is a mood disorder such as depression or bipolar disorder in addition to schizophrenia symptoms. A brief psychotic disorder is characterized by the same symptoms of schizophrenia but occurs less than one month in duration.