What is schizophrenia

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Schizophrenia is a chronic psychiatric disorder that, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), affects less than 1 percent of the world’s population. Despite its low prevalence, most people know of the disorder through many pop-culture mediums, such as movies, TV shows, and video games. Unfortunately, it is likely one of the least understood and highly stigmatized psychiatric disorders. اضافة اعلان

Stigma surrounding psychiatric disorders is often worse in conservative nations, where often times the lines between religion and medicine become blurred. Hopefully, by spreading awareness and understanding the condition, the stigma surrounding conditions like schizophrenia will lessen and enable the treatment the individual needs.

What is schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a chronic psychiatric disorder that usually occurs in men between the late teens and early 20s, and in women between the late 20s and early 30s. Sufferers from schizophrenia experience distortions of reality, which typically comes in the form of delusions or hallucinations. Hallucinations are vivid and clear experiences of senses that are in fact not real. This can include hallucinations related to hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting, or feeling. Auditory hallucinations, with individuals hearing voices that seem very real, are the most common in schizophrenia.

Delusions are beliefs that the individual holds true despite evidence or facts indicating the contrary. In schizophrenia, persecutory or paranoid delusions are the most common. As a whole, the presence of hallucinations and delusions impairs thought processes, emotions, and behavior.

Schizophrenia vs psychosis

Schizophrenia and psychosis are often associated with one another, but have distinct differences. Psychosis is a symptom, whereas schizophrenia is a mental condition. Psychosis is defined as an episode where an individual experiences a detachment from reality. Psychosis is associated with other conditions, such as sleep deprivation, certain substances and narcotics, and mental illness. Although psychosis can occur in those with schizophrenia, due to hallucinations and delusions, it is possible for someone to have schizophrenia without ever experiencing psychosis.

Symptoms of schizophrenia

Although schizophrenia typically does not present until after teen years, there may be some early warning signs. These signs often get overlooked as they are relatively nondescript and are common amongst those going through puberty. They can include irritability, agitation, isolation from friends and family, sleep difficulties, difficulties with studies, anxiety, and mild paranoia. Later in life, as the condition begins to manifest, symptoms are categorized into three main groups: positive, negative, and disorganized/cognitive.

Positive symptoms are present in those with schizophrenia, but not in a typical person. Positive symptoms include hallucinations, delusions, or paranoia. Negative symptoms are absent in those who have schizophrenia, but are present in a typical person. They may be reduction in speaking, abnormal emotional responses, lack of emotions, social isolation, difficulty initiating or following through with plans, or difficulty completing everyday tasks. The last category describes the difficulty an individual with schizophrenia has with cognitive or mental tasks. Generally, this may present as disorganized thinking or speech, as well as forgetfulness, poor utilization of information in decision making, and difficulty learning and processing information.

Causes and risk factors

So far, there is no known exact cause for schizophrenia. The current belief is that its cause is multifactorial and based on biological, genetic, and environmental factors. Research using imaging testing seems to suggest that there are structural abnormalities in the brain, although further research is still needed.

Genetics is believed to be the largest component in predisposition to schizophrenia. This is evident in those with a family history of schizophrenia, who have a higher risk of developing it.

There are also risk factors that may increase the risk of developing schizophrenia or worsen the symptoms. They include exposure to toxins, certain viruses, malnutrition before birth or during infancy, and living in high stress situations. There is also a link between substance use and schizophrenia, although the exact relationship is not clear.

Stigma of schizophrenia in Jordan

There are no estimates about the prevalence of schizophrenia in Jordan, but it is a highly stigmatized disorder. A study conducted in 2021 focused on assessing public stigma of mental illnesses in Jordan. The study focused on public attitudes vis-à-vis anxiety, depression, and schizophrenia. Three factors were found to stigmatizing schizophrenia: preconceived stereotypes, a sense of personal responsibility or blame for the condition, and perceptions of the patient’s ability to recover.

One of the most disturbing results of this study was that those who have a family member suffering from a mental condition were more likely to express prejudice. One of the ways stigma was assessed in this study was by providing participants with a list of negative statements and asking them whether they agreed with the statements. Examples of negative statements included the belief that sufferers of schizophrenia were a danger to others, that those affected have only themselves to blame for the condition, and that those affected could pull themselves together if they wanted to.

The study referenced previous studies in which those who lived in a household that carried strong prejudices were less likely to seek treatment, thus negatively affecting their recovery.


Schizophrenia is a life-long condition, with no cure so far. However, with proper treatment, symptoms of schizophrenia can be managed.

According to WHO, 33 percent of those who receive proper treatment achieve complete remission. Even if complete cure is not achievable due to severity or type, treatment can help periods of remission and lessen symptomatic episodes.

With the help of a psychiatrist or mental health professional, those who suffer from schizophrenia can be treated with medication such as antipsychotics and various forms of therapy and rehabilitation.

If left untreated, schizophrenia can result in serious complications that have the potential to be lethal. Those with schizophrenia are also more likely to suffer from other co-morbidity. When left untreated, sufferers are at increased risk of suicide or self-injury, and alcohol or substance abuse, which ultimately can reduce their lifespan.

Schizophrenia can make it difficult to focus, attend school, and hold employment. The inability to financially support themselves puts people with the condition at higher risk of poverty and homelessness. If a loved one suffers from schizophrenia, the support of friends and family is important, as it can help them in get the treatment they need.

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