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Schizophrenia is a severe mental disorder in which people interpret reality abnormally. Schizophrenia may present with some combination of hallucinations, delusions, and extremely disordered thinking and behavior that impairs daily functioning, and can be disabling.
People with schizophrenia require long term treatment. Early treatment may help get symptoms under control before serious complications develop and may help improve the long-term outlook and quality of life.
People with schizophrenia often lack awareness that their difficulties stem from a mental disorder that requires medical attention. So it often falls to family or friends to get them help.
If you think someone you know may have symptoms of schizophrenia, talk to him or her about your concerns. Although you can't force someone to seek professional help, you can offer encouragement and support and help your loved one find a qualified doctor or mental health professional.
Schizophrenia involves a range of problems with thinking (cognition), behavior or emotions. Signs and symptoms may vary, but usually involve delusions, hallucinations or disorganized speech, and reflect an impaired ability to function. Symptoms may include :
Symptoms can vary in type and severity over time, with periods of worsening and remission of symptoms. Some symptoms may always be present.
In men, schizophrenia symptoms typically start in the early to mid-20s. In women, symptoms typically begin in the late 20s. It's uncommon for children to be diagnosed with schizophrenia and rare for those older than age 45.
Schizophrenia symptoms in teenagers are similar to those in adults, but the condition may be more difficult to recognize. This may be in part because some of the early symptoms of schizophrenia in teenagers are common for typical development during teen years, such as:
It's not known what causes schizophrenia, but researchers believe that a combination of genetics, brain chemistry and environment contributes to development of the disorder.
Problems with certain naturally occurring brain chemicals, including neurotransmitters called dopamine and glutamate, may contribute to schizophrenia. Neuroimaging studies show differences in the brain structure and central nervous system of people with schizophrenia. While researchers aren't certain about the significance of these changes, they indicate that schizophrenia is a brain disease.
Left untreated, schizophrenia can result in severe problems that affect every area of life. Complications that schizophrenia may cause or be associated with include :
Although the precise cause of schizophrenia isn't known, certain factors seem to increase the risk of developing or triggering schizophrenia, including :
There's no sure way to prevent schizophrenia, but sticking with the treatment plan can help prevent relapses or worsening of symptoms. In addition, researchers hope that learning more about risk factors for schizophrenia may lead to earlier diagnosis and treatment.
Following are the possible diagnosis and Treatments for Schizophrenia :
Diagnosis of schizophrenia involves ruling out other mental health disorders and determining that symptoms are not due to substance abuse, medication or a medical condition. Determining a diagnosis of schizophrenia may include :
Schizophrenia requires long term treatment, even when symptoms have subsided. Treatment with medications and psychosocial therapy can help manage the condition. In some cases, hospitalization may be needed.
Medications are the cornerstone of schizophrenia treatment, and antipsychotic medications are the most commonly prescribed drugs. They're thought to control symptoms by affecting the brain neurotransmitter dopamine.
The goal of treatment with antipsychotic medications is to effectively manage signs and symptoms at the lowest possible dose. The psychiatrist may try different drugs, different doses or combinations over time to achieve the desired result. It can take several weeks to notice an improvement in symptoms. As the symptoms of schizophrenia like delusions or hallucinations, may hamper adherence to medications, someone who is resistant to taking medication consistently may need to be given injections instead of taking a pill.
Once psychosis recedes, in addition to continuing on medication, psychological and social (psychosocial) interventions are important. These may include:
Most individuals with schizophrenia require some form of daily living support. With appropriate treatment, most people with this disorder can manage their illness and lead as close to a normal life as possible.