Symptoms and Signs of Schizophrenia

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 5/5/2022

Doctor's Notes on Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a lifelong mental disorder involving a breakdown in the relation between thought, emotion, and behavior, leading to faulty perception, inappropriate actions and feelings, withdrawal from reality and personal relationships into fantasy and delusion, and a sense of mental fragmentation. Signs and symptoms may include

  • disorganized thinking and speech,
  • delusions,
  • hallucinations,
  • abnormal behavior and movements (silly acting to agitation, useless and excessive movements or postures, for example),
  • may neglect personal hygiene,
  • may lack emotions, and
  • become socially withdrawn.

Suicidal thoughts and behaviors are fairly common with schizophrenia; these constitute an emergency. The disorder is mainly diagnosed in an age range from teens to age 45.

The causes of schizophrenia are unknown. Risk factors for the development of the disease include family history, having an autoimmune disease, elderly father, pregnancy and birth complications, malnutrition, any toxin or viral infections that effect brain function, and taking mind-altering drugs as a teen or young adult.

What Are the Treatments for Schizophrenia?

Treatments for schizophrenia are lifelong; some patients may need hospitalization. A psychiatrist often heads a treatment team. The team recommends medications and other treatments for the patient. The treatment options include the following:

  • Medications
    • Second-generation antipsychotics like aripiprazole, risperidone and many others
    • First-generation antipsychotics like chlorpromazine, haloperidol (more side effects)
    • Long-acting injectable antipsychotics like aripiprazole, haloperidol decanoate
  • Psychosocial interventions
    • Individual therapy
    • Family therapy
    • Social skills training
    • Vocational/employment rehabilitation
  • Hospitalization (mainly for crisis interventions
  • Electroconvulsive therapy for patients that do not respond to drug therapy

The team of doctors and other health professionals can design a treatment plan to address the patient's condition.


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.