Schizophrenia is a form of severe mental illness that affects approximately one percent of the population of the world, regardless of their gender, age, economic status, or ethnic or racial characteristic. It is a disorder that lasts for at least six months and includes at least one month of active-phase symptoms, including delusions, grossly disorganized or catatonic behavior, disorganized speech, and hallucinations as well as negative symptoms.

This paper is going to discuss the illness schizophrenia. To achieve this, the essay will present how this mental illness is diagnosed, the commonly presented signs and symptoms of the condition as well as expound on the effects that this illness has on the daily lives of the people suffering from this condition. The paper will finally conclude by briefly highlighting the available treatment option available for the treatment of this condition.

Diagnosis, Signs and Symptoms

There are five subtypes of schizophrenia. These are: Paranoid type, Disorganized type, Catatonic type and the other two are the Undifferentiated type and the Residual type. Each subtype is differentiated by the predominant symptoms present at the time of the evaluation.Some of the simplest ways to understand the clinical picture of schizophrenia is to divide it into two categories: positive and negative symptoms.

Positive Symptoms

Positive symptoms show up as behaviors not seen in normal repertoire of human activities, whereas negative symptoms refer to important behaviors that are eliminated from behavioral repertoire. Positive symptoms predominate during the active phase of the illness, when an affected individual is most disturbed and disruptive. The active phase leads to the individual’s hospitalization or referral for care because they typically will be doing or saying things that bother people around them. This class of symptoms includes, most commonly, delusions and auditory, visual, or other sensory hallucinations. Positive symptoms can be classified as perceptual, cognitive, emotional, or motoric, depending on which area of behavior is involved. These symptoms constitute the large part of the lay person’s general image of schizophrenia.

Negative Symptoms

Negative symptoms predominate during the prodromal and residual phases of the illness. The prodromal phase precedes the first active phase, and the residual phase follows the active phase. The negative symptoms of schizophrenia are those in which an important or normally occurring aspect of an individual’s behavioral repertoire has become deficient or absent. They affect the cognitive, emotional and behavioral aspects of an individual’s life, but do so in the direction of decreased expressiveness and responsiveness. They may be more chronic and devastating than positive symptoms.

The salient features required to make the diagnosis of schizophrenia include;

  1. The characteristic symptoms of schizophrenia such as delusions of being controlled by others, hallucinations of hearing voices, emotional blunting, and lack of insight, disorganized speech, disorganized or catatonic behavior;
  2. Negative symptoms denoting lack of emotions and feelings, blunted affect, and loss of normal behaviors. These include affective blunting or flattening (inability to express emotions), alogia (poverty or disruption of speech), avolition (lack of will to interact with the world), Asociality (the preference for isolation), and catatonia, which is a group of four cognitive and motor symptoms;
  3. The presence of social and occupational dysfunction;
  4. Duration of symptoms for at least six months;
  5. The ability to exclude the diagnoses of schizoaffective disorder and mood disorder; and
  6. The ability to exclude the influence of a substance or medical condition as the cause of the symptoms.

Several tools are available to the clinician to aid in the accurate diagnosis of schizophrenia. The structured clinical interview for the DSM-IV Axis-I Disorders, a schedule that allows  a clinician to walk through a specific interview schedule and obtain information relevant to the presence or absence of the diagnostic behaviors and thoughts indicative of the illness. The level that schizophrenia is in the DSM-IV-TR is under psychotic disorders. The other tool available is the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale, which allows clinicians to obtain information about the presence and severity of specific behaviors and thoughts related to the diagnosis of schizophrenia.

Effect of schizophreniaon the Normal Daily Life of the Sufferer

The impact of schizophrenia can be considered from several different points: personal, social and economic. Each focusses on a different aspect of the illness and indicates the far-reaching effect this illness has on families, mental health professionals and society.

The personal impact of schizophrenia is the greatest. Each day the sufferer’s family must contend with the stress and strain associated with caring for someone with schizophrenia. Likewise, these ill individuals must contend with the social isolation, disrupted life development, and fear and anxiety brought on by the troubling symptoms and their aftermath. The influence and power of stigma, both towards the individuals with the illness and their families, can lead them to experience a powerlessness and isolation that directly affects their ability to cope with the illness. For many, schizophrenia is chronic and severe and they will experience these frightening symptoms periodically for most of their is therefore, not surprising that suicide rates for people with schizophrenia is higher than among those who suffer from other types of mental illness. It is considered one of the most disabling mental illnesses.

The TreatmentOptions Available

There is a wide range of treatments available for schizophrenia:The first option is drug treatment. Drugs work by acting on the central nervous system and help to redress the chemical imbalance in the brain. The first drugs to be used to treat schizophrenia were called antipsychotics. They worked by blocking dopamine receptors in the brain.  By blocking these receptors, behavior could be controlled during psychotic episodes. The schizophrenia drugs presently used to treat the illness are second generation drugs which reduce both the positive and negative symptoms of schizophrenia. These drugs work on serotonin receptors in the brain, which influence moods. These drugs have been successful in reducing psychotic episodes and relapses.

The second treatment is the Electroconvulsive treatment (ECT), this treatment involves injecting the patient a general anesthetic and muscle reluctant, then placing electrodes on the patient’s temples and introducing a shock.Other treatments include; Psychological treatments, Cognitive behavior therapy and family therapy.


In conclusion, people suffering from Schizophrenia should not feel embarrassed and ashamed of the illness and the public should stop the stigma associated with this disease and help in the battle against mental illness. It is a mental illness which should not necessitate any embarrassment, even if the symptoms described can be severe. It is a mental disorder like any other disease and it should be considered no different from a physical disorder.


Open Study College. (n.d.). OSC 525 Unit 3: Psychological Abnormality. Birmingham, United Kingdom: Open Study College.

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