Schizophrenia is not a single disease but a complex of several mental disorders that affects men, women, and children. It is characterized by three main types of symptoms: positive, negative, and cognitive.
Positive symptoms include hallucinations, which are described as hearing things that nobody else can hear. People may also see things that are not really there. Hallucinations can affect all the senses.
Delusions are also positive symptoms. People that are delusion think extremely odd or unlikely things are happening to them like the government is stalking them or aliens took over their brain.
Disorganized behavior deals with a range of physical actions including immature silliness or impulsive agitation.
Negative symptoms are emotional factors that may affect daily functions. Schizophrenic people will have a loss of motivation or interest in hobbies and a lack of emotional connections.
Social awkwardness and hygiene negligence may also be negative symptoms.
The third type of symptoms comes from a cognitive standpoint, which deals the thought process. They can have memory and attention problems.
Schizophrenic people also cannot make sense of basic information, which is a disability they may have been born with. Cognitive issues with thinking can directly cause the other negative and positive symptoms.
Dr. Cheryl Corcoran of New York State Psychiatric Institute and Dr. Dolores Malaspina from the New York University School of Medicine believe in the two-hit theory of schizophrenia.
They explain that schizophrenia is first caused by generic vulnerabilities such as exposure to infection while in the womb, delivery problems, or brain injury.
People that have experienced such difficulties do not necessarily develop schizophrenia but it sets the stage for the disorder.
The second half of the theory deals with environmental factors pertaining to stress. People that are prone to extreme anxiety may develop the symptoms of schizophrenia.
Anxiety may be from major life changes like a death in the family or social situations like a date or an interview. No matter how dramatic, it can cause episodes that are physically and emotionally devastating to a person who is schizophrenic.