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What is Schizophrenia

What is Schizophrenia?


According to World Health Organization (WHO), schizophrenia affects approximately 24 million individuals which is 1 in 300 people globally. Schizophrenia is not as common as other mental illnesses and it begins in late adolescence and twenties. The onset of this condition begins earlier in men.

Schizophrenia can go undiagnosed in the UAE because of a lack of awareness of mental illnesses and the stigma attached to them. This is why patients can miss out on treatment and continue suffering in silence. The lack of psychoeducation, stigma and religious and cultural ideologies psychiatric diseases are usually underdiagnosed and misunderstood and most individuals are probably living with the condition without treatment. When untreated, schizophrenia can have negative consequences.

Understanding Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a chronic psychiatric condition that affects how you think, behave, and feel. You experience distortions of reality, especially hallucinations and delusions. If you have schizophrenia, it looks as if you have lost touch with reality and it can cause distress to you, your family, and your friends. If left untreated, symptoms can be persistent and even disabling. However, the availability of treatments can help you live a fulfilling life at home, work, and school. Treatments work better when delivered on time and in a sustainable manner.

Symptoms of Schizophrenia


Schizophrenia symptoms fall into 3 categories but they start with early symptoms which appear in late teens and early twenties. Although you might overlook these signs because of teenage behavior, it is vital to consult the best psychiatrists in Dubai if you notice;

·       Sleep problems

·       Self-isolation

·       Agitation and irritability

·       Changing social groups or friends

·       Change in concentration or focus

·       Poor academic performance.


Psychotic Symptoms

Psychotic symptoms are behaviors not experienced by healthy individuals. They include abnormal thinking, altered perception, (for instance, changes in taste, touch, smell, hearing, and vision), and odd behaviors. If you have psychotic symptoms, you can lose a shared sense of reality and experience the world in a distorted way. You will experience these specific symptoms;

·       Hallucinations such as seeing things that are not there or hearing voices

·       Thought disorder which includes disorganized speech or unusual thoughts

·       Delusions - These are firm beliefs not supported by objective facts, for instance, paranoia which are irrational fears that others are out to get you

·       Movement disorders.

Negative Symptoms

These symptoms interrupt your behaviors, emotions, and abilities. They include lack of enjoyment or disinterest in daily activities, loss of motivation, difficulty showing emotions, social withdrawal, and difficulty functioning normally. Typical symptoms include;

·       Reduced speaking

·       Difficulty planning, starting and sustaining activities, and reduced motivation

·       Reduced expressions of emotions through voice tone or facial expression

·       A lack of interest in everyday life

·       Trouble controlling impulses.

Cognitive Symptoms

Cognitive symptoms can be subtle and challenging to identify. You experience problems with your concentration, attention, and memory. Although the symptoms can be subtle in some people, they are prominent in others and affect activities like learning new things, following conversations or remembering appointments. Specific symptoms include;

·       Trouble focusing

·       Difficulty using new information

·       Problems processing information for decision-making

·       Being unaware of your symptoms.



Risk Factors of Schizophrenia

Although the exact cause of schizophrenia is not known, experts believe that a combination of genetic, physical, environmental, and psychological factors can contribute to this condition.


Schizophrenia runs in families but it is not caused by a single gene. Various combinations of genes likely cause schizophrenia. Having these genes does not mean that you will develop this condition.

It’s also important to understand that just because a family member has schizophrenia does not mean that you will get the condition. Studies suggest that various genes increase the risk of developing schizophrenia. It is not possible to determine who will develop schizophrenia.

Brain Structure and Function

Experts believe that differences in brain function, structure, and interactions among neurotransmitters may contribute to the development of schizophrenia. For instance, differences in the volumes of various components of the brain, the way parts of the brain are connected and work together, and chemical messengers like dopamine are common in people with schizophrenia. Brain connections and circuit differences present in patients might start developing before birth. If changes occur to your brain during puberty, they can trigger psychotic episodes if you’re vulnerable to environmental exposure, genetic, or other types of brain differences.


Interactions between genetic risk and factors in your environment can contribute to the development of schizophrenia. These environmental factors can be living in poverty, nutritious problems before birth, exposure to viruses before birth, or stressful surroundings.



How Do You Treat Schizophrenia?

Since the causes of this condition are not clear, the treatments focus on controlling symptoms and solving problems to help patients function healthily. They include;

Antipsychotic Medications

Antipsychotic medications help reduce the frequency and intensity of psychotic episodes. The physician prescribes this medication to be taken daily in liquid or pill form. Some are administered in the form of injections once or twice monthly. If your symptoms do not improve with standard antipsychotic medication, your physician will prescribe clozapine. Stopping your medication suddenly can be dangerous and escalate the condition.

Psychosocial Treatments

These include behavioral skills training, cognitive behavioral therapy, cognitive remediation interventions, and may help manage the cognitive and negative symptoms. A combination of antipsychotic medication and these therapies is common. These psychosocial therapies can help to teach you how to navigate daily life and manage challenges. If you participate in these treatments, you are less likely to be hospitalized or relapse. This way you can pursue your dreams or go to work or school.

Coordinated Specialty Care

Coordinated Specialty Care refers to recovery-oriented treatment programs for individuals with a first psychotic episode. A team of specialists or health professionals administer Coordinated Specialty Care and it includes psychotherapy, case management, medical management, and educational support.


Schizophrenia is a serious mental condition and although the cause is not clear, you and your physician can come up with a treatment plan to help you enjoy a healthy life. It is crucial to follow the physician’s advice for an improved prognosis. Although there is no way to prevent schizophrenia, you can consult the best psychiatrists in Dubai to talk about your concerns.


Best doctors

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