What is Schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a long-lasting, or chronic, severe mental illness that affects the way you think, feel, and behave. If you have this condition, you likely have difficulty distinguishing reality from fantasy and may experience the following:

  • Hallucinations, which means you see or hear things that are not real.
  • Delusions, which are false beliefs that you strongly hold on to.
  • Trouble communicating, organizing your thoughts, making decisions, and paying attention.
  • Inability to remember things, complete tasks, show interest in activities, and sustain relationships.
A comprehensive psychiatric evaluation is necessary to identify this illness, and one of the top criteria for a diagnosis of schizophrenia is that at least some of the symptoms listed above have to be present for a minimum of six months. The causes of schizophrenia are unclear, but studies have linked it to genetics, abnormalities in brain structure, and immune disorders. It has also been found to affect men and women equally, with onset typically occurring earlier in men.

Although there is no cure for schizophrenia, some treatments can help you manage your disease. For example, your physician may prescribe antipsychotics, which are a group of medications that can reduce your symptoms. You can also learn useful coping skills and get emotional support by regularly taking part in individual talk therapy and having family members participate in group therapy sessions.

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