The Basics

People have tried to understand mental illness for thousands of years. The causes of schizophrenia are still not clear, but scientists believe several things may be involved. Schizophrenia can run in families. The environment may also play a role in terms of stressful surroundings, illnesses, and poor nutrition. Disruptions in brain development may also be a risk factor.

Schizophrenia is usually diagnosed between the late teens and early thirties. It tends to appear earlier in males (late teens-early twenties) than in females (early twenties – early thirties). Schizophrenia is a lifelong condition. 

Schizophrenia is generally described in terms of its symptoms.

These are usually divided into 3 categories.

Positive symptoms – Among these are delusions, hallucinations, and disorganized thinking or speech.

Negative symptoms – Examples include social withdrawal, lack of interest or motivation, and flat affect (lack of facial expression, or monotone voice).

Cognitive symptoms – These include difficulties with paying attention, processing information, and memory.

Because there is no cure for schizophrenia, the aim of treatment is to manage its symptoms.

Treatment of schizophrenia

Antipsychotic medicines were introduced in the 1950s. Since then, more treatments have become available. In the 1960s, new types of therapy began to be used, including counseling, behavioral therapy, and psychotherapy.

Antipsychotic medicines are available in different forms, including pills that you swallow or that dissolve under your tongue, an oral solution, injections, and a transdermal patch. Treatment continues to evolve as researchers look for new ways to help people living with schizophrenia.

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