World Schizophrenia Awareness Day is observed every year on May 24 to reduce the stigma associated with the mental health issue, which affects more than 20 million people worldwide.

Schizophrenia is a mental condition that causes an abnormal interpretation of reality. The disorder can impair daily functioning and can even become extremely disabling as it involves hallucinations, delusions and disordered thinking and behavior.

There are mainly two groups of symptoms of schizophrenia – positive and negative. The first group refers to changes in behaviors or thoughts after an individual develops schizophrenia, while the latter is the absence of normal behavior. Then there are cognitive symptoms that include difficulty paying attention and having trouble focusing and remembering things.

Common negative symptoms

  • Withdrawal from friends and family
  • Reduced speech and energy
  • Lack of emotion and motivation
  • Lack of interest in daily social activities

Positive symptoms

1. Delusions - It is the most common symptom when the patient has false beliefs that are not based on reality. Even though the beliefs are unrealistic and mistaken, the patients may have full conviction and can develop hallucinations to support them.

2. Hallucinations - It is when a person sees, hears, smells, tastes or feels things that do not exist.

3. Catatonia -It is a group of symptoms when a person stops responding to other people or their environment. It often involves a lack of movement and communication and the person stays in a single position for a long time.

When to seek help?

In most cases, schizophrenic patients may not realize that they need help and treatment. So, family and friends need to encourage them to seek support if they notice symptoms or when the patient has stopped taking medications. Emergency help needs to be taken if the patients have suicidal thoughts or threaten to harm themselves or someone else.

Although the diagnosis can be shocking, early treatment can help to manage the symptoms and guide the patients to have a meaningful life.

Surprising facts about schizophrenia:

  • About 1% of the population in the U.S. suffers from Schizophrenia.
  • Many people who suffer from schizophrenia are not aware of their mental condition. This is called anosognosia, which means to be not aware of the disease.
  • Most schizophrenic patients prefer to be left alone and are not violent.
  • Some schizophrenic patients may have abnormal fingerprints.
  • One of the most frightening delusions schizophrenic patients have is called Capgras Syndrome. It is also called imposter syndrome where patients have a false belief that an identical duplicate has replaced someone close to them.
  • Although genes play a role in schizophrenia, it does not mean that a person is destined to get the mental illness as several other factors decide the risk.
  • Men and women are at equal risk of developing schizophrenia although the age at which symptoms appear differs. Most women get diagnosed with schizophrenia in their 20s or 30s while men tend to get it in their late teens to early 20s. The condition is very rare to appear before the age of 12.
People with schizophrenia may experience behavioral changes, cognitive problems, hallucinations, lack of pleasure and reduced emotional expression. Pixabay