Schizophrenia Patient Information Fact Sheet

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What is schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia is one of the most serious mental disorders and has the potential to be very disabling. The exact cause of schizophrenia is still not known but it is thought to be related to altered levels of chemicals in the brain. Schizophrenia is an illness which, although disruptive, can be controlled. Many sufferers respond to medication and can resume a normal or near normal life.

Who gets schizophrenia?
In the U.S., it is estimated that about 1 percent of Americans have schizophrenia. It affects people from all cultures and can start at any age, but most commonly begins between the ages of 16 and 30. It is equally common in men and women.

What are the symptoms of schizophrenia?

  • False beliefs such as paranoia or delusions--thinking people are conspiring against you when they are not or believing that you are someone else, perhaps a famous person
  • Hearing voices that no one else can hear or seeing, tasting, smelling or feeling things that are not there (hallucinations)
  • Believing that objects, events or people control your thoughts or actions in a way that can't be explained
  • Confused and muddled thinking; speech may be hard to understand
  • Loss of feelings or emotions
  • Loss of energy and interest in other people; becoming wrapped up in yourself

How long does schizophrenia last?
Some people only have a single episode of schizophrenia and recover fully. Other people have a series of attacks throughout their lives. Unfortunately, some people may be permanently disabled. However, with appropriate care and support from doctors, nurses, family and friends, sufferers can learn how to cope with the condition.

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