A person with schizophrenia

Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a mental illness that affects how the brain works. This leads to chronic problems with disordered thoughts and behaviors and symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions, and lack of emotional expression.  

Schizophrenia affects approximately 0.3% to 0.7% of people. It impacts people from all racial backgrounds and ethnicities and is slightly more common in men than in women. The exact causes are unknown, but it has both genetic and environmental risk factors.

It usually requires lifelong care and treatment to help people manage their symptoms and live full, active lives. Treatment usually involves medications, psychotherapy, and social support. Coping strategies such as joining a peer support group and participating in social skills training can also be helpful.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What causes schizophrenia?

    The exact causes of schizophrenia are not entirely understood, but a complex variety of influences likely play a role. Some potential causes include genetic, environmental, social, and psychological factors.

  • Is schizophrenia genetic?

    Research suggests that genetics play a significant role in causing schizophrenia. Having a family member with the condition greatly increases your risk of developing schizophrenia. However, while the condition sometimes runs in families, having a family member with the condition does not necessarily mean that you will develop the disorder.

  • Is there a cure for schizophrenia?

    There is no cure for schizophrenia, but there are treatments that can help people manage the symptoms of the condition and improve functioning. Treatments vary depending on each individual's needs but may include medications, psychotherapy, and family-based services. People may require different levels of care and support depending on the severity of their condition.

  • At what age does schizophrenia typically develop?

    Research suggests that early symptoms of schizophrenia begin to appear sometime between late adolescence and early twenties, although they may begin later or earlier. The age of onset is also typically later in women than in men. Symptoms appear gradually and become progressively more severe.

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Page Sources
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  2. National Institute of Mental Health. Schizophrenia. Updated May 2020.

  3. Gogtay N, Vyas NS, Testa R, Wood SJ, Pantelis C. Age of onset of schizophrenia: perspectives from structural neuroimaging studies. Schizophr Bull. 2011;37(3):504-513. doi:10.1093/schbul/sbr030

  4. Chien WT, Leung SF, Yeung FK, Wong WK. Current approaches to treatments for schizophrenia spectrum disorders, part II: psychosocial interventions and patient-focused perspectives in psychiatric care. Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2013;9:1463-1481. doi:10.2147/NDT.S49263