Last Updated: November 2 2022

Schizophrenia is a brain condition that may cause auditory and/or visual hallucinations, delusions, difficulties with emotions and cognition, and verbal communication problems. These symptoms manifest between the ages of 16 and 30.

Schizophrenia falls under theMental Healthcategory.

What is schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a severe mental illness that interferes with a person’s thinking and perception of the world around them. Even though schizophrenia affects about 1% of the world's population, it is one of the top 20 causes of disability worldwide.[1][2][3]

What are the main signs and symptoms of schizophrenia?

Symptoms of schizophrenia are broken down into two main categories:

  • Positive symptoms — experiences that add to existing emotions or thoughts — such as hallucinations, delusions, and disordered thinking.

  • Negative symptoms — experiences that subtract from emotions or thoughts — such as reduced speech, lack of motivation, and decreased emotional expression.

Catatonia, which is characterized by repetitive non-goal directed movements, unresponsiveness, and episodes of overactivity or immobility, is another common symptom of schizophrenia. Additionally, cognitive impairment, which can affect things like memory, processing speed, and attention, has recently been recognized as a symptom of schizophrenia. Symptoms of schizophrenia usually begin to appear between the ages of 16 and 30.[4][1]

How is schizophrenia diagnosed?

A healthcare provider will complete an evaluation to rule out other potential causes of the symptoms. Two sets of criteria, from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), published by the American Psychiatric Association, and the International Classification of Disease (ICD), published by the World Health Organization. may be used to diagnose schizophrenia.

What are some of the main medical treatments for schizophrenia?

Antipsychotic medications are the most effective treatments for schizophrenia. They are usually taken orally, but can be injected intramuscularly in urgent situations. However, these medications are associated with unpleasant side effects such as weight gain, sedation, and extrapyramidal symptoms (uncontrollable involuntary movements).[4]

Have any supplements been studied for schizophrenia?

D-serine, sarcosine, and Ginkgo biloba have been shown to be effective at reducing symptoms of schizophrenia when used as adjunctive treatments to antipsychotic medications.

A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials found that, when used as an adjunct to antipsychotics, B vitamins, specifically Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, and Folic Acid, were able to reduce total psychiatric symptoms in people with schizophrenia. However, the results were highly variable, and it was not entirely clear which specific vitamins or amounts determined the effect.[5]

How could diet affect schizophrenia?

There is limited evidence that dietary changes might affect schizophrenia. The Dietary Inflammatory Index (DII) is a metric used to assess the inflammatory potential of a dietary pattern. A higher DII score is associated with a more inflammatory diet. A small observational study found that people with schizophrenia are more likely to follow a dietary pattern with a high DII score.[6] Some trials also found that a gluten-free diet reduced symptoms of schizophrenia. However, additional trials failed to find the same result.[7]

Are there any other treatments for schizophrenia?

Psychotherapy, specifically cognitive behavioral therapy, is often used with medication. Electroconvulsive therapy may also be beneficial for people with schizophrenia.[4][8]

What causes schizophrenia?

There have been numerous proposed hypotheses regarding the cause of schizophrenia. However, the exact cause is unknown. It does appear that genes, environmental factors, and neurotransmitter imbalances may all be involved.[4]

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