Schizophrenia is a mental disorder characterized by a breakdown of thought processes and by a deficit of typical emotional responses. Common symptoms include auditory hallucinations, paranoid or bizarre delusions, or disorganized speech and thinking, and it is accompanied by significant social or occupational dysfunction.
Schizophrenia is a chronic brain disorder that affects about one percent of the population. When schizophrenia is active, symptoms can include delusions, hallucinations, trouble with thinking and concentration, and lack of motivation. However, when these symptoms are treated, most people with schizophrenia will greatly improve over time.
While there is no cure for schizophrenia, research is leading to new, safer treatments. Experts also are unraveling the causes of the disease by studying genetics, conducting behavioral research, and by using advanced imaging to look at the brain’s structure and function. These approaches hold the promise of new, more effective therapies.
Schizophrenia affects approximately 1 percent of all adults, globally. Experts say schizophrenia is probably many illnesses masquerading as one.
The complexity of schizophrenia may help explain why there are misconceptions about the disease. Schizophrenia does not mean split personality or multiple-personality. Most people with schizophrenia are not dangerous or violent. They also are not homeless nor do they live in hospitals. Most people with schizophrenia live with family, in group homes or on their own.
Research has shown that schizophrenia affects men and women about equally but may have an earlier onset in males. Rates are similar in all ethnic groups around the world. Schizophrenia is considered a group of disorders where causes and symptoms vary considerably between individuals.
Schizophrenia is a challenging disorder that often makes it difficult to distinguish between what is real and unreal, to think clearly, manage emotions, relate to others, and function normally. Suspecting that you or someone you love has schizophrenia can be a stressful and emotional experience. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t hope. Schizophrenia can be successfully managed. The first step is to recognize the signs and symptoms. The second step is to seek help without delay. With the right self-help, treatment, and support, you can learn to manage the disorder and lead a satisfying and fulfilling life.
Common Misconceptions about Schizophrenia
Myth: Schizophrenia refers to a “split personality” or multiple personalities.
Fact: Multiple personality disorder is a different and much less common disorder than schizophrenia. People with schizophrenia do not have split personalities. Rather, they are “split off” from reality.
Myth: Schizophrenia is a rare condition.
Fact: Schizophrenia is not rare; the lifetime risk of developing schizophrenia is widely accepted to be around 1 in 100.
Myth: People with schizophrenia are dangerous.
Fact: Although the delusional thoughts and hallucinations of schizophrenia sometimes lead to violent behavior, most people with schizophrenia are neither violent nor a danger to others.
Myth: People with schizophrenia can’t be helped.
Fact: While long-term treatment may be required, the outlook for schizophrenia is far from hopeless. When treated properly, many people with schizophrenia are able to enjoy fulfilling, productive lives.
Schizophrenia most commonly strikes between the ages of 16 and 30, and males tend to show symptoms at a slightly younger age than females. In many cases, the disorder develops so slowly that the individual does not know that they have had it for many years. However, in other cases, it can strike suddenly and develop quickly.