Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a serious and chronic medical condition. It is a disorder of the message
system in the brain. Someone with schizophrenia loses the ability to act properly or to think
clearly - his or her mind is "split Irom reality" (hence schi:o "split" and phrenia "mind" Irom
ancient Greek). The term schi:ophrenia does not reIer to multiple personality disorder.
Schizophrenia aIIects about 1° oI people throughout the world. It sometimes starts during
childhood, but most oIten shows up in the late teens or 20s.
It can develop gradually, over the course oI weeks or months, or it can seem to come on very
suddenly. The signs oI schizophrenia are easy to misunderstand, and can sometimes be
Irightening to other people. While this disorder never goes away, it can oIten be managed with
proper medical care and Iamily support.
Causes of Scbizopbrenia
e do not yet know what causes schizophrenia. There are many theories, but it is most likely
a result oI genetic Iactors that trigger complex changes in the brain's chemistry and structure.
Research has demonstrated that people with schizophrenia have changes in brain Iunction and
anatomy. However, it's not clear whether schizophrenia is a single disorder or a number oI
"syndromes" with diIIerent causes.
Some experts believe that the condition is triggered by stressors (e.g., substance misuse, stressIul
liIe events) in people whose brains are predisposed.
Symptoms and Complications of Scbizopbrenia
Schizophrenia can have a gradual or sudden onset. But Ior most people, mild symptoms are
Iollowed by more severe ones. Symptoms oI schizophrenia can vary widely in severity, can
come and go, or be persistent. For those who experience mild symptoms initially, the Iirst signs
may be withdrawal Irom Iriends or social activities, poor school perIormance, caring less about
personal appearance, and perceiving things diIIerently.
The symptoms oI schizophrenia usually Iall into one oI several groups:
O Þos|t|ve symptoms are sympLoms assoclaLed wlLh excess or dlsLorLlon of normal funcLlonŦ
ÞoslLlve sympLoms lnclude deluslonsţ halluclnaLlonsţ and dlsorganlzed LhoughLs and behavloursŦ
4 uelosloos are false bellefs (eŦgŦţ belng followedţ readlng or waLchlng someLhlng and
Lhlnklng Lhe message ls dlrecLed aL Lhem personallyţ Lhlnklng people can read Lhelr mlnd
or conLrol Lhelr LhoughLs)Ŧ
4 flloclofloos are hearlngţ seelngţ feellngţ smelllngţ or LasLlng Lhlngs LhaL are noL
acLually LhereŦPearlng volces (audlLory) ls Lhe mosL common Lype of halluclnaLlons wlLh
schlzophrenlaŦ
4 ulsotqfolzeJ lokloq can resulL ln swlLchlng Loplcs qulckly when Lalklng or noL maklng
sense when LalklngŦ ulsorganlzaLlon can also cause lnapproprlaLe behavlour (eŦgŦţ
aglLaLlonţ poor hygleneţ and dlsLurbances ln feellngs (eŦgŦţ may feel devold of emoLlonţ
or may experlence suddenţ lnapproprlaLe bursLs of feellngţ or may flnd lL dlfflculL Lo
express feellngs)Ŧ
O -egat|ve symptoms refer Lo a decrease or loss of normal funcLlonŦ 1hls can lnclude lack of eye
conLacLţ lack of emoLlonal responseţ decreased Lalklngţ decreased pleasureţ reduced moLlvaLlonţ
and decreased lnLeresL ln soclal acLlvlLles and relaLlonshlpsŦ 1hey may flnd lL dlfflculL Lo carry ouL
dally acLlvlLles such as golng Lo work or shopplngŦ
O ogn|t|ve |mpa|rment can lnclude dlfflculLy concenLraLlng and solvlng problemsŦ
O mot|ona| symptoms such as depresslon or lnapproprlaLe behavlour can also occur wlLh
schlzophrenlaŦ
Because schizophrenia presents a variety oI symptoms, the illness is classiIied according to
which symptoms are most prevalent in a particular individual.
O Þarano|d sch|zophren|a ls assoclaLed wlLh malnly halluclnaLlons and deluslonsŦ
O |sorgan|zed sch|zophren|a ls assoclaLed prlmarlly wlLh noL Lhlnklng clearlyţ lncoherenL speechţ
and unusual behavlourŦ
O ataton|c sch|zophren|aţ whlch ls exLremely rareţ resulLs ln moblllLy belng lmpalredţ excesslveţ
or unusualŦ
O Dnd|fferent|ated sch|zophren|a ls a mlxLure of sympLoms from Lhe varlous Lypes of
schlzophrenlaŦ
O es|dua| sch|zophren|a occurs afLer acLlve sympLoms have resolvedţ ln whlch a person may
experlence a mlld decrease or loss of normal funcLlon for long perlods of LlmeŦ

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