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a long-term mental disorder of a type involving a breakdown in the relation between
thought, emotion, and behavior, leading to faulty perception, inappropriate actions and
feelings, withdrawal from reality and personal relationships into fantasy and delusion, and a
sense of mental fragmentation.

There are many theories, but it is most likely a result of genetic factors that trigger complex
changes in the brain's chemistry and structure.

Signs and Symptoms:

Positive symptoms are symptoms associated with excess or distortion of normal function.
Positive symptoms include delusions, hallucinations, and disorganized thoughts and
Negative symptoms refer to a decrease or loss of normal function. This can include lack of
eye contact, lack of emotional response, decreased talking, decreased pleasure, reduced
motivation, and decreased interest in social activities and relationships. They may find it
difficult to carry out daily activities such as going to work or shopping.
Cognitive impairment can include difficulty concentrating and solving problems.
Emotional symptoms such as depression or inappropriate behaviour can also occur with

Whos at Risk:
Men tend to get develop schizophrenia slightly earlier than women; where as most males
become ill between 16 and 25 years old, most females develop symptoms several years
later, and the incidence in women is noticeably higher in women after age 30. The average
age of onset is 18 in men and 25 in women.
Although the precise cause of schizophrenia isn't known, certain factors seem to increase
the risk of developing or triggering schizophrenia, including:

Having a family history of schizophrenia

Exposure to viruses, toxins or malnutrition while in the womb, particularly in

the first and second trimesters

Increased immune system activation, such as from inflammation or

autoimmune diseases

Older age of the father

Taking mind-altering (psychoactive or psychotropic) drugs during teen years

and young adulthood

Diagnosis of the Disorder:

There is no test that can make a schizophrenia diagnosis. People with schizophrenia usually
come to the attention of a mental health professional after others see them acting strangely.
Doctors make a diagnosis through interviews with the patient as well as with friends and
family members.
Psychiatrists have the most experience with diagnosing schizophrenia. A psychiatrist or
other licensed mental health professional should be involved in making a schizophrenia
diagnosis whenever possible.
A schizophrenia diagnosis can be made when all of the following are true about a patient:

Schizophrenia symptoms have been present for at least six months.

Patient is significantly impaired by the symptoms. For example, has serious difficulty
working or with

social relationships, compared to the period before symptoms began.

Symptoms can't be explained by another diagnosis, such as drug use or another

mental illness.
Some people with schizophrenia are afraid of their symptoms. Or they may be suspicious of
others (paranoid). They may conceal their symptoms from doctors or loved ones. This can
make it more difficult to confirm a schizophrenia diagnosis.

Treatments available:
Schizophrenia treatment involves medications and therapy to reduce the risk of future
psychotic episodes and improve relationships.

Medications Often Used:

The large majority of schizophrenia patients experience improvement when treated with
antipsychotic drugs. Some patients, however, do not respond to medications, and a few may
seem not to need them. Antipsychotic drugs are the cornerstone in the management of

schizophrenia. They have been available since the mid-1950s, and although antipsychotics
do not cure the illness, they greatly reduce the symptoms and allow the patient to function
better, have better quality of life, and enjoy an improved outlook.

Strategies to Live and Cope with this:

Many people with schizophrenia experience hallucinations and delusions. These hallmark schizophrenia
symptoms can understandably cause distress and disorientation. Studies have shown that most people
who deal with these schizophrenia symptoms have developed their own coping strategies, particularly
when dealing with auditory hallucinations or "hearing voices."
Schizophrenia Hallucinations: Coping Strategies
When voices are distressing, some patients may self-adjust their prescription medications or use drugs or
alcohol to minimize the hallucinations. But there are better ways to deal with this issue.
Other methods for coping with hallucinations include:

Fighting back. This technique involves yelling or talking back to the hallucinations. While
resisting the voices may seem like a good idea, studies show that the "fight or flight" response can lead
to depression, since the voices typically don't go away on their own.
Schizophrenia Delusions: Coping Strategies

Asking for help. Some people with schizophrenia seek out the company of friends and family
when they are experiencing delusions. Friends and family can help by providing a distracting activity, or
even just a listening ear.

Be selective. Some voices are positive and some voices are negative. An organization called
Hearing Voices takes an interesting approach: The voices may not be physical beings, but they should
still treat you with the respect that you expect from other people. This group recommends engaging
with the voices, but politely. The patient should ask the voices to make an appointment, or tell the
negative voices that they are not welcome until they have useful information.