Schizophrenia Causes, Symptoms & Signs

Erlanger Behavioral Health Hospital offers high-quality services and support for adults and senior adults who are struggling with schizophrenia. Located in Chattanooga, TN, Erlanger is a leading provider of schizophrenia treatment.

Understanding Schizophrenia

Learn about schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a mental health disorder that can undermine a person’s ability to comprehend their environment and interact with others. Common symptoms of schizophrenia include delusions, hallucinations, and disorganized speech patterns.

Most people who struggle with schizophrenia first experience symptoms while in the later stages of adolescence or during their early 20s. The disease is more common among men than among women. However, individuals of all ages and genders can develop schizophrenia.

Adolescents and adults who have schizophrenia may see or hear things that are not there, believe things that have no basis in reality, have significant problems expressing their thoughts, and struggle with motivation and goal-directed activities. This can make it extremely difficult for these individuals to develop healthy relationships, pursue satisfying careers, and otherwise participate in a full and productive lifestyle.

With proper treatment for schizophrenia, people can experience relief from certain effects and learn to manage their symptoms. When they receive comprehensive, personalized help that is customized according to their unique needs, adolescents and adults whose lives have been impacted by schizophrenia can achieve considerable improvements in the quality and substance of their lives.


Statistics about schizophrenia

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and the Schizophrenia and Related Disorders Alliance of America (SRDAA) have reported the following schizophrenia statistics:

Causes & Risk Factors

Causes and risk factors for schizophrenia

Researchers have yet to conclusively identify a sole cause or group of causes for schizophrenia. However, considerable study indicates that your risk for developing schizophrenia may be influenced by certain genetic and environmental factors, including the following:

  • Having a history of schizophrenia within your family
  • Being male
  • Having certain chemical or structural abnormalities in the brain
  • Enduring certain complications during your birth or while your mother is pregnant with you
  • Experiencing prenatal malnutrition
  • Being exposed to certain viruses
  • Growing up in an urban environment

Signs & Symptoms

Symptoms of schizophrenia

Schizophrenia can cause a person to develop a variety of physical, behavioral, and mental symptoms. The experience may vary from person to person, but in general, the following are among the more common signs and symptoms of schizophrenia:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Speaking in a disorganized or incoherent manner
  • Speaking with a flat or monotone voice
  • Speaking about topics that appear to have no apparent connection to reality
  • Failing to properly interpret common social cues
  • Behaving in a disorganized manner
  • Catatonia
  • Neglecting or failing to tend to personal hygiene and other forms of self-care
  • Pulling away from family, friends, or peers
  • No longer participating in hobbies or other activities that were previously significant
  • Behaving with uncharacteristic or unexplainable aggression

Physical symptoms:

  • Motor skill deficiencies
  • Flat, expressionless facial expressions

Mental symptoms:

  • Dramatic, unpredictable mood swings
  • Slowed cognitive processing
  • Diminished ability to concentrate or focus
  • Poor memory
  • Feeling detached from your own body
  • Feeling detached from your environment or the world around you
  • Hallucinations and delusions
  • Anxiety and paranoia


Effects of schizophrenia

Untreated schizophrenia can cause a person to endure a wide variety of unpleasant effects and negative outcomes. Without proper care, a person who is living with schizophrenia may find it difficult, if not impossible, to fully engage in a healthy and satisfying lifestyle. The following are common possible effects of schizophrenia:

  • Strained or ruined family relationships
  • Problems forming and maintaining friendships and other interpersonal relationships
  • Difficulties achieving to expectation in school or at work
  • Academic failure
  • Job loss
  • Unemployment
  • Inability to achieve financial independence
  • Medical problems related to poor decision-making, substandard self-care, and dangerous or reckless behaviors
  • Legal problems, including arrest and incarceration, related to impaired decision-making and dangerous or reckless behaviors
  • Onset or worsening of co-occurring mental health disorders
  • Substance abuse and addiction
  • Social withdrawal or ostracization
  • Pervasive sense of hopelessness
  • Homelessness
  • Self-harm
  • Suicidal thoughts or actions

Please note that not everyone who struggles with schizophrenia experiences the effects listed above. Also, when you receive effective care, your risk for these and other negative outcomes is reduced. With the right type and level of professional help, people whose lives have been impacted by schizophrenia can achieve an improved quality of life.                                                

Co-Occurring Disorders

Common co-occurring disorders among people who have schizophrenia

If you’ve developed schizophrenia, this may mean that you also have an increased risk for certain co-occurring mental health disorders, such as the following:

  • Schizotypal personality disorder
  • Paranoid personality disorder
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Substance use disorders (this is the clinical term for addiction)
Marks of Quality Care
  • The Joint Commission (JCAHO) Gold Seal of Approval