Mental Health in Ann Arbor: What is Schizophrenia?

Have you ever wondered what is Schizophrenia? It is common to have heard about Schizophrenia but to not know much about it.

Schizophrenia originates from the Greek language and was initially identified by the psychiatrist Paul Eugen Bleuler in 1910. Researchers believe that 1% of people have Schizophrenia and it affects people most commonly in ages 16-30, it can happen in childhood and older age but not as frequently.

A lot of people think that Schizophrenia is somehow related to having multiple personality disorder – that is in fact not true, they are not related. Schizophrenia is a disorder of the brain that is neurodevelopmental and it alters how people think and act. It is actually considered a syndrome which means people can have different types of symptoms and not all people may have the same symptoms.

There is not one specific cause of Schizophrenia. Its etiology is thought to be a combination of genetics and environmental influences like development in the womb and childhood experiences (nature and nurture). It is a combination of these influences that can trigger atypical brain functioning. In people with Schizophrenia the neurotransmitters in their brain may not be functioning optimally. Dopamine is one of the brain chemicals believed to be too high in certain parts of the brain in people with Schizophrenia, which many of the medications used to treat people with Schizophrenia target.

Before Schizophrenia appears, there is a time prior called the Prodrome where the symptoms start to appear and there is a decline in typical behaviors. During this time, a person’s academic or work performance starts to suffer as well as their relationships. People may display paranoia or suspiciousness, they could experience delusions and start to act in an unusual manner. The prodrome many times can lead to Schizophrenia, but not in every case.

People with schizophrenia may experience delusions or abnormal beliefs, along with hallucinations or seeing and hearing things that are not there. They may isolate themselves, be a bit confused or disorganized in their actions and can seem to lack emotions. Schizophrenic symptoms can be triggered by a stressful life event and should be diagnosed based by a skilled clinician using a thorough process including a clinical interview to obtain historical information from the client and their family (if possible), observations of the client, as well as formal psychological testing examining personality and other aspects of thinking.

At CNLD, we work with individuals experiencing concerns about thought disorders in order to accurately diagnose what may be happening. We work with experienced professionals in the community who can assist in putting together an intervention plan to address these concerns. For more information, please contact our office.