Signs, Effects & Symptoms of Schizophrenia

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Cross Creek Hospital helps children, adolescents, and adults who are struggling with schizophrenia through an unmatched quality of care and support. Located in Austin, TX, Cross Creek is the leading provider of schizophrenia treatment.

Learn More About Schizophrenia Treatment

Learn more about schizophrenia treatment at Cross Creek Hospital in Austin, TX

Schizophrenia is a serious disorder that is believed by many to be the most chronically debilitating of all mental health conditions. Individuals who are suffering from schizophrenia struggle with monumental misinterpretations of the world around them. These people experience severe difficulty with thinking clearly, expressing feelings in an appropriate manner, and distinguishing between what is real and what is not real. This often disabling illness can cause significant disruption in all aspects of a person’s life, including his or her home life, academic or occupational life, and social life. While the disturbances that are elicited by the presence of schizophrenia are vast and all-consuming, there are treatment options available that, along with implementation of appropriate psychotropic medications, can help alleviate the distressing symptoms of this illness and help those who are plagued by it live a higher quality of life.


Schizophrenia statistics

Believed to affect 1% of the United States population, schizophrenia is estimated to affect 3.2 million people, with men and women being diagnosed with this mental health condition in relatively equal prevalence. Symptom onset is generally believed to present when individuals are between the ages of 16 and 30, and men are believed to experience symptoms at any earlier age than women are.

Causes and Risk Factors

Causes and risk factors for schizophrenia

A combination of factors are believed to play a role in the onset of schizophrenia. The following are brief descriptions of such potential contributing factors:

Genetic: Widely known to run in families, research has shown that there is a strong genetic link in the onset of schizophrenia. Therefore, people who have a first-degree, biological relative who is suffering from schizophrenia are at a heightened risk for developing this mental illness at some point in their lifetimes.

Environmental: Scientists have discovered that there are certain environmental factors that can potentially play a role in the onset of schizophrenia. The most commonly noted of such factors are believed to occur while in utero or during the birthing process. Things such as prenatal exposure to viruses, prenatal malnutrition, and/or complications occurring during birth are all believed to possibly lead to the future development of schizophrenia.

Risk Factors:

  • Family history of schizophrenia or other mental illnesses and/or personality disorders
  • Personal history of paranoid or schizotypal personality disorder
  • Taking mind-altering substances
  • Having a father who is of advanced age
  • Prenatal exposure to viruses
  • Prenatal malnutrition
  • Presence of an autoimmune disease

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of schizophrenia

The signs and symptoms that may be displayed by an individual who is suffering from schizophrenia will vary vastly in type and severity. The symptoms themselves can be classified into three separate groups, including positive, negative, and cognitive symptoms. The following include examples of the various types of symptoms that may be displayed by a person who has schizophrenia:

Positive symptoms: Positive symptoms are classified by psychotic behaviors that individuals who are not suffering from schizophrenia do not experience or display. When people are exhibiting positive symptoms, they have often lost touch with reality. Examples of such symptoms may include:

  • Disorganized speech
  • Disorganized behaviors
  • Hallucinations (auditory, visual, and/or olfactory) – hearing, tasting, feeling, seeing, or smelling things that are not really there
  • Delusions – the presence of beliefs that a person has despite being provided with evidence to the contrary

Negative symptoms: Negative symptoms of schizophrenia are characterized by behavioral and emotional abilities that individuals are no longer able to execute or experience. These symptoms are said to account for a substantial portion of the morbidity that is associated with this mental health condition. Examples of negative symptoms may include:

  • Diminished emotional expression, examples of which include:
    • Reduction in eye contact
    • Reduction in facial expressions
    • Reduction in movements of the head, face, and hands that are typically used to convey emotional expression
    • Lacking intonation of speech
  • Avolition – a decrease in motivation for purposeful activities
  • Anhedonia – decreased ability to experience pleasure
  • Alogia – diminished speech output / inability to speak
  • Asociality – clear lack of interest in social interactions
  • Catatonic behaviors
  • Lacking personal hygiene
  • Lacking the ability to articulate thoughts

Cognitive symptoms: Cognitive symptoms typically present in a subtle manner and are therefore not immediately identified as being symptomatic of the presence of schizophrenia. Examples of cognitive symptoms may include:

  • Significant memory disturbances
  • Poor or impaired executive functioning capabilities
  • Lacking the ability to concentrate


Effects of schizophrenia

When an individual is suffering from schizophrenia and does not receive proper treatment and appropriate medication interventions, the negative effects that are likely to occur can be vast. Examples of potential effects that can occur as the result of untreated schizophrenia include, but are not limited to:

  • Inability to obtain and maintain steady employment
  • Financial strife
  • Homelessness
  • Isolation from family and friends
  • Familial discord
  • Disturbances within interpersonal relationships
  • All-consuming paranoia
  • Chronic substance abuse / addiction
  • Extreme phobias
  • Excessive and debilitating anxiety
  • Onset of self-harming behaviors
  • Suicidal thoughts and behaviors

Co-Occuring Disorders

Schizophrenia and co-occurring disorders

Individuals who are suffering from schizophrenia may also experience symptoms synonymous with other mental health conditions. Additionally, paranoid personality disorder and schizotypal disorder are also known to occasionally precede the onset of schizophrenia. Examples of various disorders and conditions that are known to co-occur alongside a diagnosis of schizophrenia may include:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Specific phobia
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Panic disorder
  • Substance use disorders
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Past Clients Say

I went into Cross Creek at the lowest and most difficult time of my schizophrenia and they treated me with great care. I am continuing my medication and my psychotherapy with them.

– Former Patient