Understanding the signs, symptoms, and effects of schizophrenia is an important step toward getting help for yourself or a loved one. Haverhill Pavilion Behavioral Health Hospital in Haverhill, Massachusetts, is a source of accurate information, reliable guidance, and comprehensive solutions for adults and older adults who have been struggling with schizophrenia.
Learn about schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is a complex disorder with symptoms that can include hallucinations, delusions, and disorganized speech. People who struggle with schizophrenia may find it difficult to understand their environment and effectively interact with others. Problems with goal-oriented behavioral and emotional expression are also common among individuals who have schizophrenia.
To meet the criteria for a diagnosis of schizophrenia, a person must experience certain symptoms for at least 30 days. These symptoms must be severe enough to impair functioning in one or more important areas of life. Examples of impaired functioning can include diminished performance at work or problems with social interactions.
Most people who develop schizophrenia first demonstrate the signs and symptoms of this disorder before age 25. However, this does not apply to every person who is impacted by schizophrenia. The signs, symptoms, and effects of schizophrenia can affect younger people, as well as adults and older adults of all ages.
Without proper care, schizophrenia can have a profound negative impact on a person’s life. However, with effective professional help, individuals who have been struggling with schizophrenia can learn to manage their symptoms, achieve greater independence, and experience considerable improvements in both the quality and substance of their lives.
Common signs and symptoms of schizophrenia
People who have schizophrenia may exhibit a variety of signs and symptoms. The onset, nature, and severity of these symptoms can vary from person to person depending upon a host of individual factors. However, in general, the following are among the more common signs and symptoms of schizophrenia:
- Inability to understand or interpret common social cues
- Discussing issues or topics that seem to be disconnected from reality
- Disorganized or incoherent speech patterns
- Flat, monotone, or otherwise expressionless voice
- Diminished emotional responsiveness
- Disconnected responses (such as laughing when such a reaction is clearly inappropriate)
- Lack of attention to personal hygiene, grooming, and other forms of self-care
- Hostile or otherwise aggressive behaviors
- Diminished facial expressiveness
- Substandard motor skills
- Inability to focus or concentrate
- Slow cognitive processing
- Drastic mood swings
- Memory problems
- Anxiety and paranoia
- Hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that are not there)
- Delusions (believing things that have no basis in reality)
- Depersonalization (feeling that you are detached from your own body)
- Derealization (feeling that you are detached from the world around you)
Possible short-term effects of schizophrenia
Failing to get appropriate professional care for schizophrenia can expose you to an array of negative outcomes. The following are among the most common short-term effects of schizophrenia:
- Strained family relationships
- Problems forming healthy friendships or positive peer relationships
- Substandard performance in school or at work
- Financial struggles
- Medical issues related to poor self-care or diminished judgment
- Onset of co-occurring disorders
- Substance abuse
- Social withdrawal
- Suicidal thoughts
It cannot be emphasized enough that the short-term effects of schizophrenia can cause significant harm. Identifying these possible outcomes as short-term is not meant to imply that they are temporary or superficial. These outcomes are described as short-term effects of schizophrenia because they are among the effects that are more common earlier in a person’s struggles with this disorder.
If you or a loved one has been experiencing the short-term effects of schizophrenia, seek professional help.
Potential long-term effects of schizophrenia
Continuing to struggle with schizophrenia can increase your risk for long-term effects. The long-term effects of schizophrenia can be sources of great distress, and they should prompt you to seek appropriate professional assistance.
The following are among the many potential long-term effects of schizophrenia:
- Destroyed relationships with family and friends
- Social isolation
- Significant health problems due to poor self-care and an inability to follow medical advice
- Worsening symptoms and more harmful effects of co-occurring disorders
- Legal problems related to behaviors prompted by delusions or hallucinations
- Chronic unemployment
- Financial devastation
- Suicidal thoughts and actions
As with the short-term effects that are listed in the previous section, the long-term effects of schizophrenia can vary from person to person in terms of onset, intensity, impact, and duration.
Different people will be affected by the long-term effects of schizophrenia in different ways. But all long-term effects can be harmful. Anyone who experiences any short- or long-term effects of schizophrenia needs professional help. With the right type and level of care, you can limit your risk for continued harm and begin to heal from any damage that you have already incurred.
Common co-occurring disorders among people who have schizophrenia
Many adults and older adults who are struggling with schizophrenia are also dealing with one or more co-occurring disorders. The presence of co-occurring disorders can have a negative impact on a person’s well-being and can complicate efforts to overcome the signs, symptoms, and effects of schizophrenia.
If you have developed schizophrenia, you may have an elevated risk for the following co-occurring disorders:
- Anxiety disorders
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Schizotypal personality disorder
- Paranoid personality disorder
- Substance use disorders
Experts have not identified a definitive cause-effect relationship between schizophrenia and co-occurring disorders. For some people, the signs and symptoms of schizophrenia precede the onset of a co-occurring disorder. Others experience one of the co-occurring disorders listed above first, then begin to display the signs and symptoms of schizophrenia. Still others have schizophrenia without ever developing a co-occurring disorder.
Many people who struggle with schizophrenia don’t realize that they also have a co-occurring disorder until they begin to receive professional care. This is one of the many reasons why it’s so important to get help for schizophrenia from a provider who can also identify and address any co-occurring disorders that may be impacting your health.