Schizophrenia is a chronic and severe mental disorder that affects how a person thinks, feels and behaves. People with schizophrenia may seem like they have lost touch with reality. Although schizophrenia is not as common as other mental disorders, the symptoms can be very disabling.

Symptoms of schizophrenia usually start between ages 16 and 30. The symptoms of schizophrenia fall into three categories: positive, negative, and cognitive.

Symptoms include:

  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Thought disorders (unusual or dysfunctional ways of thinking)
  • Movement disorders (agitated body movements)
  • "Flat affect” (reduced expression of emotions via facial expression or voice tone)
  • Reduced speaking
  • Trouble focusing or paying attention

The exact causes of schizophrenia are unknown. Research suggests several factors that contribute to the risk of developing schizophrenia:

  • Genes and environment
  • Viral Infections and other infectious influences
  • Prenatal malnutrition
  • Pregnancy or birth complications
  • Childhood trauma
  • Psychosocial factors
  • Brain chemistry and structure