Schizophrenia is a serious mental illness. It affects the way you see the world and the way you behave.

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Photo: iStock/Syolacan

Schizophrenia is a mental illness that changes your thoughts and how you see the world. It makes it difficult for you to keep your thoughts in control. Your thoughts, feelings, and how you act can all change. Most people get the illness when they are young. 

Symptoms of schizophrenia

Some of the changes you can have if you have schizophrenia are:

  • Delusions
    Delusions are when you believe something is real when it is not. For example, you believe everyone at your work hates you and is trying to get you fired. This might make you nervous or angry. This is delusional if the truth is that people do like you and that no one is trying to get you fired.
  • Hallucinations
    Hallucinations are when you experience things that do not happen. For example, you can hear voices when no one is around. You can see things that are not there. You can taste or smell things that are not there. These experiences are very real to you.
  • Dulled emotions
    Dulled emotions are when you do not show your feelings. You might not look at people in the eye anymore. You might speak very slowly and with no feelings. Dulled emotions also can look like you are not aware of what is going on around you. You can show emotions that are not normal emotions for the situation. For example, your friend is telling you a very sad story. You do not understand how sad your friend is and you laugh.
  • Loss of motivation 
    Loss of motivation is when you do not have the energy to do anything. You might not even want to take a shower or brush your teeth.
  • Isolation
    With schizophrenia, some people do not want to be around their family and friends.

Schizophrenia can happen because of many things. Some reasons you may have schizophrenia are:

  • Genetics
    Genes are the mental and physical traits (such as your eye color) you get from your parents. Maybe someone in your family had schizophrenia.
  • Biochemistry
    Biochemistry is how different chemicals work in your body.
  • Stress
    Life events and trauma can cause mental illness.
  • Biological
    Biological means it is part of your body. You can have changes in your brain that can make it easier to have schizophrenia. Men are more likely to develop schizophrenia.
  • Drugs
    Using a lot of drugs can cause schizophrenia.

Most people will experience symptoms of schizophrenia between 16 and 30 years old. Symptoms are the feelings and changes you have because of the illness. Not a lot of people develop schizophrenia after 45 years old. It is not possible to treat schizophrenia with only therapy. You will need to take medication that your doctor prescribes.