What is schizophrenia?
serious disorder of the brain. It affects the way a person thinks,
perceives things, and relates to others. People with schizophrenia may
have trouble thinking logically, and have difficulty distinguishing
between real and unreal experiences. People with schizophrenia may also
have sudden, unpredictable changes in their mood or emotions and have
trouble behaving appropriately in social situations.
not, however, a "split personality." Changes in brain functioning can
cause people with schizophrenia to seem, at times, as if they have two
different personalities. When the symptoms of the person with
schizophrenia are improved, the person may behave almost normally;
however, when the symptoms worsen, the same individual may seem like a
different person to those who know him.
not caused by "bad upbringing" or "bad parenting." Schizophrenia is
also not caused by laziness or because a person is weak in nature.
Traumatic experiences do not cause schizophrenia, although they may
increase symptoms. Schizophrenia is a disease with a physical cause,
just like diabetes or heart disease.
often described as a chemical imbalance in the brain. The imbalance of
certain chemicals can affect a person's mood, perceptions, and
behaviors. Some people are born with a predisposition to schizophrenia.
It is believed that schizophrenia is closely related to heredity and
genetics. This is because schizophrenia tends to run in families, but
only among blood relatives. The risk for schizophrenia is greater
between first-degree relatives (between parents and children and
are the symptoms of schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia exhibit many
different symptoms. They may hear voices that aren't there, talk about
absurd ideas or beliefs, or express themselves in ways that are
difficult or impossible to understand. Many individuals with
Delusions are beliefs held by the person in spite of whether there is
any basis in
reality. People who suffer from schizophrenia also may experience
perceptual symptoms called hallucinations.
Hallucinations are most often auditory (hearing ), but may occur in any
of the senses. Hallucinations should not be confused with mistaken
perceptions, which we all experience from time to time.
Who gets Schizophrenia?
has been observed to occur in virtually every culture in the world. In
the United States, there are an estimated 2.5 million people suffering
from schizophrenia. The disease afflicts males and females equally. Men
often have an earlier onset of symptoms than women. The average age at
which males exhibit symptoms is about 4 to 5 years younger than
The symptoms of
schizophrenia usually manifest themselves between the age of 15 and 35.
Symptoms rarely occur before the age of 12. Childhood Schizophrenia
does occur, however, and can impede early language development as well
as social development.