What is Schizophrenia?

It is not split personality!

Mrs. L. was a patient in hospital that I was asked to see because she was thinking strangely. She was very quiet, withdrawn and suspicious of me. When I asked her what was the reason that she was in hospital, she replied, “I’m rotting inside because I was standing too close to wallpaper that was peeling off the wall.” She had clearly lost contact with reality but I needed to know how firmly convinced of her delusion she was. I asked her if this had ever happened before. She answered, “Yes it had but she had acted quickly and saved her own life.” “And how did you do that?” I responded. She showed me a twelve inch scar across her neck. “When the poison was beginning to move towards my head, I cut my neck to let the poison out and saved my life!” She was clearly quite convinced of her diagnosis and of the treatment she needed. I cringed as I thought of the doctors who had to close such an enormous life threatening neck wound, while she was so proud of her life saving procedure. Mrs. L. was schizophrenic and demonstrating psychotic delusional thinking.

Schizophrenia is a very misunderstood condition and it is not “split personality.” It is a “psychotic” disorder, rather than a mood disorder, which means that there is a loss of contact with reality. It is caused by a different type of chemical imbalance than a mood disorder. Schizophrenia is a thought disorder where one loses the ability to tell what is real and what is imaginary. This disorder is a chemical imbalance in the orientation part of the brain but it can also affect the mood control centre to cause mood symptoms as well.

Schizophrenia usually begins in young adults like the other mood disorders. It affects two percent of the population which makes it more common and far more disabling than diabetes. Like the mood disorders, it tends to be a recurring condition.


Schizophrenics often feel that they are being watched, followed or persecuted. They may hear voices and see things that no one else can. They often have peculiar beliefs that have no basis in reality and their thoughts seem very scattered and disorganized. They are commonly very withdrawn, emotionless and suspicious. A more complete list of symptoms will be found in the Mood Disorder Self Test.

Delusional thinking

Schizophrenia is a more difficult condition to treat than the mood disorders and the medications, called antipsychotics, tend to have more side effects. Antidepressants and mood stabilizers can also be used in schizophrenia if there are many depressive thoughts or wide mood swings along with the psychosis. Antipsychotics are also used in mood disorders when the person is having symptoms of psychosis along with their mood symptoms.

We must be very compassionate and supportive to Schizophrenics and their families to keep the sufferer encouraged and in treatment to prevent relapses.
There are very helpful support groups for patients and families to encourage and inform those who suffer with this condition.

What do I do next?

We have lots of resources to help you assess yourself for depression, anxiety or mood swings. These resources will also help you understand the conditions so you can help a loved one.

First do the self assessment checklists which you can even take to your doctor. Just click here.

Throughout my medical career I noticed that Christians suffered from depression differently than non Christians. You can download my article that describes this difference and why it happens in  How depression affects Christians.

Personal coaching appointments are available where we can meet online or by phone. I will answer your questions about mood disorders and explain the recovery process.

Emotionally Free – The first third of the book explains the nature and treatment of mood disorders from a Christian perspective and includes the symptom checklists for self assessment. The rest of the book explains problems with our personality and spirit.

Have a look at these DVDs/CDs/direct downloads – watch 5 minute previews online

• Depression, The Path to Recovery As 2 disc of 10 TV interviews with Dr. Mullen where he explains a Christian understanding of depression, anxiety and mood swings. Our most popular DVD.

• Moods, what Christians should know about depression, anxiety and mood swings Christians are often very confused and misinformed about the nature and treatment of mental illnesses. They are also very suspicious of psychiatric treatments, so many are suffering needlessly from correctable conditions. This presentation will remove the mystery and confusion about the diagnosis and treatment of depression, anxiety and mood swings.

• Fear, When Trust is Lost You will get the tools to overcome and take control of the worries and fears that disrupt your life.

Mental health Q & A

  1. What causes mood disorders?
  2. What is the treatment for mood disorders?
  3. Has depression become an epidemic?
  4. What is depression?
  5. What causes depression?
  6. What are the symptoms of depression?
  7. How does depression affect marriages?
  8. Does Menopause cause Depression?
  9. Is Adolescent Depression just a Normal Phase?
  10. Is it Normal for the Elderly to be Depressed?
  11. What is Anxiety Disorder and OCD?
  12. What is the ultimate cure for worry?
  13. What is bipolar disorder?
  14. You Mean I can’t Drink Coffee?
  15. What are the Christmas blues?
  16. Why do I feel so far from God when I’m depressed?
  17. How do I know if I need medications for my mood?
  18. How do I know if my depression has been healed?
  19. How long do I need to stay on antidepressants?
  20. What is ADD or Hyperactivity?
  21. Why treat ADD?
  22. What is Schizophrenia?

2 comments on “What is Schizophrenia?

  1. Bonita Buckner on

    I work alongside with the OT on the Psychiatric Unit and also involved with our prayer team at church. How can one pray effectively for these people who have voices running constantly in their heads. I know we serve a BIG God and nothing is too difficult for Him and continue to support and pray for those with these conditions. Do you have any resources as to how to be more effective and how one can have a greater inpact on ministering in this area.
    Bountiful Blessings
    In Christ Our Lord


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