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Everything you need to know about schizophrenia in four easy answers

October 13, 2009

Many of the women at Calvary live with mental illnesses. Today is the first of many blog posts in which we aim to provide you with a better understanding of some common illnesses. First up: Schizophrenia.

What is schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a severe, chronic brain disorder which affects an individual’s ability to perceive reality, which in turn distorts how she acts, thinks, relates to others, and expresses emotion.

Who gets schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia tends to run in the family, but genetics isn’t the only cause. Symptoms can be triggered by outside factors such as living in a stressful environment, using hallucinogenic drugs, or by certain pre-natal viruses. About one percent of Americans are schizophrenic.

What are the symptoms?

Some people with schizophrenia will experience hallucinations, such as hearing voices. Others will become very paranoid, or will have delusions of grandeur. These are called positive symptoms, which are thoughts or behaviors that shouldn’t exist in a healthy person are present. While positive symptoms tend to be easily recognized, other symptoms of schizophrenia can be equally challenging to live with. When a person is affected by negative symptoms, such as appearing emotionless or having difficulty responding to other people, they are not showing thoughts or behaviors that a healthy person should. People with schizophrenia also can have difficulties in thinking logically and reasoning, causing their thoughts to be jumbled and their speech to be confusing when they talk. Also, it’s important to note that violence is NOT a symptom of schizophrenia: people with schizophrenia are no more likely to be violent anyone else.

How do you treat schizophrenia?

Proper care and treatment is crucial for patients with schizophrenia: untreated, schizophrenia can be one of the deadliest mental illnesses. Because people with schizophrenia often have a hard time getting care for physical conditions, and are more likely to abuse drugs or alcohol, their life spans are about 25 years shorter than the average Americans. Also, roughly 10% of people with schizophrenia commit suicide—and many more attempt suicide at least once.

However, with treatment people with schizophrenia can lead active, satisfying lives in their communities. Although there is no cure, a combination of medication and psychiatric treatment is very successful in managing the disorder. Some people with schizophrenia also respond well to living in a supportive housing environment, which gives them more independence but also access to important services they need to maintain their housing and their health.

Got more questions? This website is a great source for information about schizophrenia symptoms treatment and research. You can find support here if you or a loved one is suffering from schizophrenia.

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