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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.

(National Alliance of Mental Illness)

Schizophrenia is characterized by significant impairments in the way reality is perceived and changes in behavior related to:

  • persistent delusions: the person has fixed beliefs that something is true, despite evidence to the contrary;
  • persistent hallucinations: the person may hear, smell, see, touch, or feel things that are not there;
  • experiences of influence, control or passivity: the experience that one’s feelings, impulses, actions, or thoughts are not generated by oneself, are being placed in one’s mind or withdrawn from one’s mind by others, or that one’s thoughts are being broadcast to others;
  • disorganized thinking, which is often observed as jumbled or irrelevant speech;
  • highly disorganized behavior e.g. the person does things that appear bizarre or purposeless, or the person has unpredictable or inappropriate emotional responses that interfere with their ability to organize their behavior;
  • “negative symptoms” such as very limited speech, restricted experience and expression of emotions, inability to experience interest or pleasure, and social withdrawal;
  • and/or extreme agitation or slowing of movements, maintenance of unusual postures.

People with schizophrenia often also experience persistent difficulties with their cognitive or thinking skills, such as memory, attention, and problem-solving.

(World Health Organization)

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:

  • Imbalances in chemical signals your brain uses for cell-to-cell communication;
  • Brain development problems before birth;
  • Loss of connections between different areas of your brain.

(Cleveland Clinic)

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.

(Cleveland Clinic)