Surprising Facts About Schizophrenia Explained By A Neuropsychiatrist

4 min read

By Dr Debanjan Banerjee, Consultant Neuropsychiatrist, Apollo Multispecialty Hospitals, Kolkata- 22 May 2023

  • Share this article

  • 0

  • 0 like

Do you remember Dr John Nash from the classic ‘A Beautiful Mind’ released in 2001? The imaginative fantasies and anti-social behaviour of a mathematical genius revealed symptoms of a mental health condition he suffered from, schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is a severe mental illness affecting nearly 1% of the population worldwide. People are usually affected by this disorder in their 20s to 30s and tend to interpret reality in a distorted and abnormal way. Every year, World Schizophrenia Day is observed globally, on 24th May, to help end the stigma around this disease. Let’s pledge to join this cause by understanding more about this mental condition. 

What Are The Signs Of Schizophrenia?

The common symptoms of this mental condition are:

  • Hallucinations: seeing or hearing things that do not exist)
  • Delusions: False, fixed beliefs that are not based on reality. This can lead to fear that others will harm or plot against you, someone is in love with you, or that someone is making you do things that you don’t want to.
  • Disorganized thinking: Meaningless thoughts which lead to abnormal behaviour like smiling to self
  • Irrelevant speech: Irrelevant answers to questions asked
  • Odd behaviour: A behaviour that cannot be explained through logic or normal social norms
  • Social withdrawal
  • Reduced emotional expression
  • Loss of motivation 

Individuals suffering from schizophrenia are often paranoid falsely believing that someone or everyone is out to harm them. This can further trigger depression, anxiety disorders and addiction to smoking and alcohol. 

With time, there is a decline in personal and professional life as the affected people become dependent on others for daily work. Other developmental, speech and behavioural changes that may be seen in a schizophrenic person include: 

  • Withdrawal from friends and family
  • A drop in performance at school
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Irritability or depressed mood
  • Lack of motivation

Also, recreational addiction with the use of LSD, methamphetamines and marijuana can also cause schizophrenia-like symptoms, though these reduce rapidly when the addiction is stopped.

Are People With Schizophrenia Violent?

There are several myths and misinformation existing about schizophrenia, that promote stigma and reduce help-seeking. One such myth is that people with this disorder are violent. It is absolutely untrue!

Though erroneously portrayed in movies, people with this disorder are often victims of abuse themselves (especially when in poverty or homeless) and stay paranoid and anxious about others. If provoked, rarely they may turn aggressive in self-defence which is then misrepresented as ‘violence’. Hence, people with this illness need to be addressed with empathy and care.

Can Schizophrenia Be Treated?

Schizophrenia can be treated effectively with the help of:

1. Medications

There are several medicines called antipsychotics which are used to effectively treat the symptoms of schizophrenia. They usually show their full effect in 4-6 weeks and need to be continued for at least six months after the first episode. If the symptoms of schizophrenia are prolonged or multiple episodes are there, treatment needs to continue for a longer period. The duration of the medication and side-effect profiles are discussed by the psychiatrists. Under no circumstances, should the medicines be stopped without the doctor’s advice as that often leads to recurrence.

2. Emotional support 

The family of the affected person needs to be educated about the illness and treatment modalities. They need to be supportive of the individual and supervise the medicines. One of the potential problems is that people with schizophrenia often lack ‘insight’ i.e. ability to understand that they have an illness. Hence, they may be in denial of treatment and need counselling and supervision for medical care.

3. Psychological counselling and vocational rehabilitation

In long-term cases, counsellors are helpful to reduce delusions, and hallucinations, improving social participation, life-goals, thereby enhancing the quality of life. True improvement is not just symptom reduction but also helping the individual regain their daily living, vocation and relationships.

About half of those diagnosed with schizophrenia have a significant improvement over the long term with no further recurrence, while a small proportion of these even recovers completely. However, some people may need lifelong treatment and in severe cases, people may be admitted to hospitals. One must understand that social problems such as unemployment, poverty, homelessness, exploitation, and victimization are commonly associated with schizophrenia. Furthermore, they are also more prone to medical conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, constipation and pain problems.

Therefore, if you know anyone which such symptoms, consult a psychiatrist immediately as this condition may be severe, it is treatable. For more information,

Consult Dr Debanjan Banerjee


  • service

    Buy Apollo Products

  • service

    Online Consultations

  • service

    Order Online Test


Leave Comment


Email Id


  • Share this article

  • 0

  • 0 like