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How to Understand Schizophrenia

Learn what exactly schizophrenia is from psychiatrist Jeanie Tse in this Howcast video.


Hi. I'm Jeanie Tse, and I'm here to talk to you about what schizophrenia is. Schizophrenia is a brain disorder that affects about 1 percent of the population. It's a disease like other diseases. There are changes in the development of the brain that affect how people think, how people perceive things, and affect how they behave.

The symptoms of schizophrenia fall into five domains. One is delusions, so sometimes people with schizophrenia feel like something is happening that other people don't perceive. So, what we say is that they have a fixed false belief that is not shared by other people of their same culture.

So, that can include being paranoid, being afraid that people are out to get them, or having grandiose delusions, which include feeling that they're on a special mission or perhaps religious delusions, like they're Jesus Christ and so forth. So, that's delusions.

The second symptom area is hallucinations, so sometimes people with schizophrenia perceive things that other people don't perceive. They hear voices that other people don't hear or see things other people don't see. You can also have hallucinations that affect the sense of smell or the sense of taste or touch as well.

The third symptom area, and fourth, are disorganized thought and disorganized behavior. So, people with schizophrenia might not be able to care for themselves. They may not be able to plan ahead and keep the steps of something that they need to do in order.

So, they start to have poor hygiene and not be able to manage their finances or their living circumstances. Disorganized thought comes in the form of people not being able to understand their speech. All the ideas are jumbled together and confusing.

So, those are the first four symptom areas of schizophrenia, and the fifth is negative symptoms, and sometimes we miss these. But, they're some of the most difficult symptoms of schizophrenia, in that people sometimes don't have motivation to do things. They don't have a lot of thoughts coming through and so they're very quiet. They sit for long periods of time not doing things, and this can be actually one of the more disabling parts of schizophrenia.

But, recovery from schizophrenia is possible. With treatment and with support, people with schizophrenia can lead normal lives, can work, have families, and pursue the goals that are important to them. That's why the work that all of us in the mental health field do to help people with schizophrenia is so rewarding to us.

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