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Schizophrenia: An Overview

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Cognitive Symptoms of Schizophrenia

Cognitive symptoms include:

  • Poor executive functioning (the ability to understand information and to use it to make decisions)
  • Trouble focusing or paying attention
  •  Difficulty with working memory (the ability to use information immediately after learning it)

 

Negative Symptoms of Schizophrenia

In this case, the word negative does not mean "bad," but reflects the absence of certain normal behaviors in people with schizophrenia. Negative symptoms of schizophrenia include:

  • Lack of emotion or a very limited range of emotions
  • Withdrawal from family, friends, and social activities
  • Reduced energy
  • Reduced speech
  • Lack of motivation
  • Loss of pleasure or interest in life
  • Poor hygiene and grooming habits

 

What Causes Schizophrenia?

The exact cause of schizophrenia is not yet known. It is known, however, that schizophrenia -- like cancer and diabetes -- is a real illness with a biological basis. It is not the result of bad parenting or personal weakness. Researchers have uncovered a number of factors that appear to play a role in the development of schizophrenia, including:

  • Genetics (heredity): Schizophrenia tends to run in families, which means a greater likelihood to develop schizophrenia may be passed on from parents to their children.
  • Brain chemistry: People with schizophrenia may have an imbalance of certain chemicals in the brain. They may be either very sensitive to or produce too much of a brain chemical called dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter, a substance that helps nerve cells in the brain send messages to each other. An imbalance of dopamine affects the way the brain reacts to certain stimuli, such as sounds, smells, and sights and can lead to hallucinations and delusions.
  • Brain abnormality: Research has found abnormal brain structure and function in people with schizophrenia. However, this type of abnormality doesn't happen in all schizophrenics and can occur in people without the disease.
  • Environmental factors: Evidence suggests that certain environmental factors, such as a viral infection, extensive exposure to toxins like marijuana, or highly stressful situations, may trigger schizophrenia in people who have inherited a tendency to develop the disorder. Schizophrenia more often surfaces when the body is undergoing hormonal and physical changes, such as those that occur during the teen and young adult years.
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