Schizophrenia is a serious mental illness that interferes with a person’s ability to think clearly, manage emotions, make decisions and relate to others. It is a complex, long-term medical illness. The exact prevalence of schizophrenia is difficult to measure, but estimates range from 0.25% to 0.64% of U.S. adults. Although schizophrenia can occur at any age, the average age of onset tends to be in the late teens to the early 20s for men, and the late 20s to early 30s for women. It is uncommon for schizophrenia to be diagnosed in a person younger than 12 or older than 40. It is possible to live well with schizophrenia.
Schizophrenia is characterized by significant impairments in the way reality is perceived and changes in behavior related to:
People with schizophrenia often also experience persistent difficulties with their cognitive or thinking skills, such as memory, attention, and problem-solving.
Schizophrenia and the related spectrum of conditions don’t have a single confirmed cause. Several factors and circumstances increase a person’s risk of developing it, but none of them is a guarantee that you’ll eventually have it.
Experts suspect schizophrenia happens for different reasons. The three main reasons include:
Schizophrenia isn’t curable, but it is often treatable. In a small percentage of cases, people can recover from schizophrenia entirely. However, this isn’t a cure because there isn’t a way of knowing who will have a relapse of this condition and who won’t. Because of that, experts consider those who recover from this condition “in remission.”
Treating schizophrenia usually involves a combination of medication, therapy and self-management techniques. While therapy alone is often effective for treating most mental health conditions, managing schizophrenia usually requires medication. Early diagnosis and treatment are important because they increase the chances of a better outcome.