Woman sitting on her couch drinking coffee

About
schizophrenia

You’re not alone in this. About 2.8 million 
adults in the US are also living with 
schizophrenia.

What is schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a mental health condition that affects everything from how you think to how you feel and behave—but that doesn’t mean it has to control your life.

Woman sitting on her bed smiling
Red question mark icon
Woman walking outside on a trail

Causes of schizophrenia

While medical experts like doctors and researchers don’t exactly understand what causes schizophrenia, there is something very important to remember: living with schizophrenia is not anyone’s fault. No one is to blame, and there’s nothing anyone did to cause it. What experts do know is that schizophrenia can be caused or triggered by a combination of factors:

  • Purple double helix icon

    Genetics

    Someone might be at a higher risk to develop schizophrenia if it runs in their family’s genes, and/or if they have some kind of naturally occurring imbalance of chemicals in the brain

  • Purple tree icon

    Environment

    In combination with genetic factors, schizophrenia might be triggered if certain environmental risk factors, like stress, exposure to toxins or viruses during brain development, a head injury, or use of mind-altering drugs, are experienced

Two women laughing and embracing
Red checklist icon

Kinds of
symptoms

There are 2 kinds of schizophrenia symptoms, and they can vary greatly from person to person. Not everyone living with schizophrenia will have all these symptoms, and how symptoms are experienced can change over time.

Woman reading on the couch
Red question mark icon

Getting a diagnosis

Receiving a diagnosis means you’re able to do something about it. Since the exact cause of schizophrenia is unknown and symptoms vary so greatly, diagnosis tends to be a process of elimination to rule out other mental health conditions. Although only doctors can make a schizophrenia diagnosis, this process typically includes:

  • A physical exam and tests or screenings with a doctor to rule out other conditions
  • A psychiatric evaluation that involves a psychiatrist observing and asking questions about thoughts, moods, demeanor, and other criteria established by the American Psychiatric Association

Meet Elizabeth*

After being in and out of the hospital for experiencing schizophrenia symptoms, she was ready for an answer.

A man looking straight ahead with tears running down his face
Orange lightning bolt icon

Experiencing
an episode

An episode can be an uncertain time for someone living with schizophrenia. It is defined as a relapse of symptoms after a person has received a diagnosis and has been feeling better for a period of time on treatment. Schizophrenia is an unpredictable mental health condition, and an episode can be scary for the person experiencing it and their loved ones. However, you are not alone. The sooner , the sooner doctors can help treat it. Some things to watch for include:

  • Not sleeping well
  • Feeling stressed or afraid
  • Having a hard time concentrating
  • Feeling annoyed or short-tempered for no reason
  • Lacking energy or feeling tired all the time
  • Losing interest in daily activities
  • Feeling confused
  • Experiencing delusions or hallucinations more frequently

Looking for a way to record warning signs?

Download our Episode
Action Plan Worksheet

Getting serious about a change

After Jason was discharged from the military and experienced a serious episode that ended with a hospitalization, he knew he had to find a medication he could stay on. His diagnosis has since changed from schizophrenia, but his treatment journey has remained the same.

Learn about treatment with
long-acting injections

* Elizabeth is a volunteer with the SHARE Network, a volunteer program dedicated to helping adults living with schizophrenia share their personal health stories.

Jason’s diagnosis has since changed. Learn more about Schizoaffective Disorder here.