Schizophrenia: Types, Symptoms, Medications, Treatment

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Schizophrenia is a chronic and disabling brain disease. People with schizophrenia often suffer terrifying episodes of hearing internal voices not heard by others, or believing that other people are reading their minds, controlling their thoughts, or plotting to harm them. These symptoms may leave them fearful and withdrawn. Their speech and behavior can be so disorganized that they may be incomprehensible or frightening to others.

Some people have only one episode; others have many episodes during a lifetime, but lead relatively normal lives during the interim periods. However, the individual with "chronic" schizophrenia, or a continuous or recurring pattern of illness, often does not fully recover normal functioning and typically requires long-term treatment, generally including medication, to control the symptoms. Available treatments can relieve many symptoms, but most people with schizophrenia continue to suffer some symptoms throughout their lives.

Approximately 1 percent of the population develops schizophrenia during their lifetime - more than 2 million Americans suffer from the illness in a given year.

There is now significant emphasis on early diagnosis and treatment of schizophrenia. The initial episode often requires hospitalization. Medications and other treatments for schizophrenia can help reduce and control the distressing symptoms of the illness.

Schizophrenia is not a single disease, but a broad category of mental illnesses. They all involve some form of psychosis (being out of touch with reality). Schizophrenia can manifest itself differently in different people, and symptoms may be widely varied, affecting many aspects of behavior, thinking, and emotions. Schizophrenia often starts out very slowl...

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