Individuals with Schizophrenia experience these two categories of symptoms, plus many others. These categories are symptoms based on problems with cognition (delusions) and problems with perceptions (hallucinations):
Schizophrenia is equally common in men and women, affecting about one percent of the population, although the age of onset is usually about 10 years later in women than men. Some research suggests that women tend to have more paranoid delusions and hallucinations, where as men often experience more negative and disorganized symptoms.
Schizophrenia is linked to structural and functional abnormalities in the brain. The regions of the brain that control and coordinate thinking, perceptions and behaviours are not functioning properly, making it difficult for people to filter and process information. Frequently, people with Schizophrenia experience the information that comes into their senses as garbled and mixed together. A variety of different neurochemical pathways are involved, including brain pathways that use the chemicals dopamine and serotonin. The limbic system (an area of the brain involved with emotion), the thalamus (which coordinates outgoing messages), the cortex (the part of the brain that is responsible for problem solving and complex thinking) and several other brain regions can all be affected.
Schizophrenia often has a genetic component, although not in all cases. Birth trauma and fetal brain damage in-utero increase the risk for Schizophrenia. Recent research also suggests that significant marijuana use may trigger the onset of Schizophrenia in youth who are at risk for the illness. Individuals who have an immediate family member with Schizophrenia should avoid using marijuana or other drugs.
No. People with Schizophrenia do not have multiple personalities. This error is perpetuated by errors in mainstream media and likely comes from the fact that Schizophrenia means “split brain”. “Split brain” refers to how the brain splits from reality for people with Schizophrenia, not to split personalities. Dissociative Identity Disorder is the proper diagnosis for someone with apparent multiple personalities. It is a separate and unrelated diagnosis.