Mental Wellbeing

What is Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia, a mental illness, affects 24 million individuals worldwide, with onset in late adolescence. It is less common than other mental disorders, with a prevalence of 1 in 300 people, as per WHO.


By Team ArabiaMD

 • 4 min read • 
What is Schizophrenia

Understanding Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a chronic psychiatric condition that affects how you think, behave, and feel. It involves distortions of reality, especially hallucinations and delusions. If you have schizophrenia, it may seem as if you have lost touch with reality, causing distress to you, your family, and your friends. If left untreated, symptoms can persist and even become disabling. However, there are treatments available that can help you live a fulfilling life at home, work, and school. These treatments are most effective when delivered in a timely and consistent manner.

Symptoms of Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia symptoms can be categorized into 3 categories, but they often begin with early symptoms that appear in late teens and early twenties. Although these signs may initially be attributed to teenage behavior, it is important to consult the best psychiatrists in Dubai if you notice any of the following:

  • 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 that are not experienced by healthy individuals. They include abnormal thinking and altered perception, such as changes in taste, touch, smell, hearing, and vision. Specific symptoms include:

  • Hallucinations, such as seeing things that are not there or hearing voices
  • Thought disorder, which includes disorganized speech or unusual thoughts
  • Delusions, which are firm beliefs not supported by objective facts
  • Movement disorders

Negative Symptoms

Negative symptoms interrupt your behaviors, emotions, and abilities. They include a 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
  • Lack of interest in everyday life
  • Trouble controlling impulses

Cognitive Symptoms

Cognitive symptoms can be subtle and challenging to identify. They involve problems with concentration, attention, and memory. Although symptoms may be subtle in some people, they can be more prominent in others and can affect activities such as 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 the development of this condition.


Schizophrenia can run in families, but it is not caused by a single gene. It is likely that various combinations of genes contribute to schizophrenia. However, having these genes does not guarantee that you will develop the condition.

Brain Structure and Function

Experts believe that differences in brain function, structure, and interactions among neurotransmitters may contribute to the development of schizophrenia. For example, 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.


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

How is Schizophrenia Treated?

Since the exact causes of schizophrenia are not clear, the treatments primarily focus on controlling symptoms and addressing problems to help patients function in a healthy manner. The treatment options include:

Antipsychotic Medications

Antipsychotic medications help reduce the frequency and intensity of psychotic episodes. These medications are typically prescribed to be taken daily in liquid or pill form. Some may also be administered in the form of injections once or twice monthly.

Psychosocial Treatments

Psychosocial treatments include behavioral skills training, cognitive behavioral therapy, cognitive remediation interventions, and can help manage cognitive and negative symptoms. It is common for a combination of antipsychotic medication and psychosocial therapies to be used.

Coordinated Specialty Care

Coordinated Specialty Care refers to recovery-oriented treatment programs for individuals experiencing a first psychotic episode. These programs are administered by a team of specialists or health professionals and typically involve psychotherapy, case management, medical management, and educational support.

Schizophrenia is a serious mental condition, and although the exact cause is not known, seeking appropriate treatment can help individuals live a healthy life. It is crucial to follow a physician's advice for an improved prognosis. Consulting with the best psychiatrists in Dubai can help address concerns and seek appropriate treatment.

Mental HealthNeurologySchizophrenia