Schizophrenia is a mental health disorder that affects how people think and behave. The condition can develop without warning in young adulthood and affects both males and females. The impacts of schizophrenia can cause individuals to have difficulty concentrating, feel paranoid or hear voices. Schizophrenia research shows chemical imbalances in the brain may cause the illness. The condition tends to run in families, with genetic and environmental factors possibly contributing to it.

Read on to learn “What Is Schizophrenia’s Impact on the Brain?”

Alta Loma is Austin’s leading Schizophrenia treatment program for men.

The Impacts of Schizophrenia and How It Affects the Brain

Brain Structure and Changes

Schizophrenia changes the perception of what individuals see and hear. This mental health disorder affects the brain fundamentally, but the changes are less visible than scanning the brain for more apparent damage, like tumors or strokes. Several brain imaging scans are available to diagnose schizophrenia early, which can lead to better treatment outcomes.

Based on neuroimaging studies, scientists have discovered differences in the brain anatomy of patients experiencing schizophrenia. The brains of those with schizophrenia show a reduction in gray matter volume in several areas associated with episodic memory and auditory processing. These changes appear to be progressive, the severity increasing over time and correlating with the intensity of symptoms experienced.

Neurotransmitter Changes

The nervous system uses neurotransmitters to send and receive messages between neurons. Changes or abnormalities in neurotransmitters can play a part in schizophrenia.

The “revised dopamine hypothesis” is that abnormalities in dopamine balance in different brain regions are one of the leading causes of schizophrenia.

People with schizophrenia also experience abnormalities in glutamate activity. When glutamate is present in excess amounts, it can affect the hippocampus. The hippocampus is the area of the brain that plays a significant role in memory and learning. Too much glutamate can eventually cause atrophy in the hippocampus. Changes in serotonin, which regulates mood, sleep and appetite, can also be a factor in schizophrenia.

Although research has identified the role of neurotransmitters in schizophrenia, that doesn’t explain all issues those with schizophrenia may experience.

What Is Schizophrenia’s Impact on the Brain?

Schizophrenia Symptoms

Schizophrenia symptoms fall into the categories of negative and positive. The negative symptoms are related to the individual’s motivation level, response to others, and engagement in activities.

Negative Symptoms

Negative symptoms occur when people start to withdraw and want nothing to do with people and events around them. When a person with schizophrenia experiences negative symptoms, they usually have no interest in being around others, and their effect is emotionless and flat. Negative symptoms often show up years before a person has a schizophrenic episode.

Individuals with negative symptoms may lose interest in things they once found enjoyable. Persons with schizophrenia often have problems with memory and being able to keep their thoughts straight. It can be challenging for them to follow through and complete tasks. They may find it difficult to sleep and lose interest in personal hygiene and appearance.

The individual may prefer staying home and not being socially involved with family or friends. Negative symptoms also mimic depression, which points to the need for thorough testing to evaluate changes in the brain that may confirm that the mental illness is schizophrenia.

Personality changes can be one of the difficulties that impact families. Loved ones generally don’t understand these personality changes and may label individuals as lazy or selfish. Misunderstanding and frustration with the person suffering from schizophrenia can strain relationships and leave loved ones feeling helpless.

The signs and symptoms of Schizophrenia’s are notable, but our team of professionals can properly diagnosis the mental health illness

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Positive Symptoms

Positive symptoms include delusions, hallucinations, disorganized thinking and problems with movement.


A person with schizophrenia who experiences hallucinations hears, feels, sees, smells or tastes something unreal that seems real to them. Hearing voices is one of the common schizophrenic hallucinations. Research backs up the realness of the voices people with schizophrenia describe. Studies show that in those with schizophrenia, the brain assumes the voices are authentic. Some voices might be friendly and polite, while others can be rude and bothersome.


It’s not unusual for people with schizophrenia to experience delusions or events a person believes are real despite proof that they didn’t happen or don’t exist. Some delusions arise from hearing voices. For example, an individual may be convinced the voices they hear are people following or watching them. Others may think a news anchor or other television personality is talking to them or about them. Exaggerated feelings of self-importance and thinking they have unique religious connections or powers are other delusions people with schizophrenia may experience.

Disorganized Thinking and Speech

Individuals with schizophrenia may have a hard time gathering their thoughts. As a result, when they speak, the communication may be random and not make sense. Cognitive symptoms also include difficulty following a conversation or appearing distracted when others talk. This is what makes talking with them difficult. Finding out how to communicate with someone with schizophrenia is a necessary to be able to help them.

Movement Disorders

Some people with schizophrenia may exhibit abnormal motor behavior where they seem unable to control their movements and may appear restless or jumpy. At other times they might appear lethargic and sit for long periods without moving. They may also repeat the same actions.

Disorganized Thinking and Speech from Schizophrenia

Tests for Schizophrenia

The brain of someone with schizophrenia is different from an individual without it. A series of brain tests that compare the brains of individuals suspected of having schizophrenia with an image of a brain unaffected by the condition can help determine if someone has schizophrenia, showing the need for treatment.

There are scales like the Scale for the Assessment of Positive Symptoms (SAPS), which measures positive symptoms of schizophrenia, such as hallucinations, delusions and disordered thinking. The Scale for the Assessment of Negative Symptoms (SANS) measures negative symptoms like decreased motivation, trouble expressing emotions and lack of pleasure.

Other tests for schizophrenia include: 

  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, use a strong magnetic field and radio waves to make 2D or 3D images to explore brain structures
  • Computerized tomography (CT) scans that view these structures from multiple angles using a series of X-ray images
  • Electroencephalograms (EEG) test the brain’s electrical activity using electrodes attached to the scalp

In addition to the tests mentioned above, diagnosis involves a physical exam that helps the clinician rule out other issues that could be causing the symptoms. A psychiatric evaluation can identify risk factors and comorbid conditions such as substance use or other mental health disorders. It’s crucial to interview the patient to determine if they may have violent tendencies or are at risk for suicide.

Treating Schizophrenia

Treatment for schizophrenia is lifelong and usually involves medication, therapy and community support. When a person with schizophrenia has difficulty with symptoms despite medications, they may require hospitalization for a doctor to evaluate their situation and adjust their medications. Being in the inpatient setting enables the treatment team to observe the patient to determine if medication adjustments will be effective.

Alta Loma — A Team Approach

A team of clinicians works with the patient to ensure the treatment encompasses all areas of need, including assessment and evaluation, medication and therapy. Family members may participate in counseling or therapy where they can learn about the condition and what to expect when a loved one has been recently diagnosed with schizophrenia.

Once the individual completes inpatient treatment, a case manager or social worker will help them set up aftercare, which includes regular medication management and therapy appointments. Schizophrenia is a serious mental illness. However, when they respond to treatment and become stable, some people with schizophrenia may be able to work or participate in programs that focus on community living skills to help them live independently or in a supportive housing environment.

If you or a loved one are ready for a long-term, team approach to treating Schizophrenia then call Alta Loma today!

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Medications for Schizophrenia

Psychiatrists usually prescribe antipsychotic drugs for schizophrenia. Antipsychotic medications block dopamine receptors to lessen the effect of the substance. The clinician may prescribe other medications, such as antianxiety medications and antidepressants. Some side effects of schizophrenia drugs can be off-putting, meaning patients may not like taking them. However, individuals with schizophrenia seem to tolerate newer antipsychotics better and don’t experience many of the harsh side effects of older schizophrenia drugs.

Help Is Available for Schizophrenia in Texas at Alta Loma

The impacts of schizophrenia on individuals and families can be challenging. If you or someone you love is having symptoms of schizophrenia, it’s essential to see a healthcare provider for diagnosis and treatment. There are schizophrenia treatment options available and it is important that you find the right one.

At Alta Loma, we understand the importance of diagnosis and treatment of schizophrenia, and we’re here to help you. Our transformative mental health treatment center in Georgetown, Texas, can provide individualized therapy, extended care, medication management, strategies for healthy living and much more. Call us at (866) 457-3843 for more information.