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What is schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a serious mental disorder that often develops in adolescence or early adulthood and affects approximately 24 million people worldwide. People with schizophrenia experience a range of symptoms that may make it difficult for them to judge reality. While there is no cure for schizophrenia at the moment, treatments are available which are effective for most people. Unfortunately, more than 50% of people with schizophrenia do not receive appropriate care.

The name schizophrenia comes from the Greek words 'schizo' (meaning split) and 'phrenos' (meaning mind). It was chosen to reflect the poor connection or "split" between the thought processes (cognition) of a person with the disorder, and other functions of the mind such as emotion and behaviour. There is a common misconception that people with schizophrenia have a "split" or "multiple" personality. This is not true and refers to a different and extremely rare mental illness, dissociative identity disorder.
Douglas E. Severance, MD
Family Medicine
Schizophrenia is both a fascinating and fearful mental illness. According to the World Health Organization, schizophrenia is one of the top ten most incapacitating health conditions. The condition usually starts to affect people when they hit their teenage and young adult years, although females may not be affected by schizophrenia until later in life.

Currently, scientists believe that schizophrenia is caused partly by genetic factors and partly by environmental factors. People with schizophrenia often have difficulty understanding the difference between what is real and what is not real. Decision-making can also be difficult for people with schizophrenia, who often struggle with personal relationships as well. Symptoms of schizophrenia may come and go during a person's lifetime.
Katherine Lee
Social Work
Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that affects the way the brain processes outside stimuli. Therefore, people with schizophrenia have a difficult time experiencing appropriate emotions, acting in an appropriate manner, and/or not in touch with their reality. They often times suffer from delusions and/or visual and/or auditory hallucinations.
Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
Schizophrenia is a disabling brain disorder that affects the way your brain works and how you think. Schizophrenics can’t always tell reality from fantasy. They might see and hear things that are not real, feel paranoid about a government plot against them, be extremely depressed, and feel void of emotions, and/or act, speak, and move in odd ways (if at all). Untreated, the illness can be debilitating. Thankfully, though, the illness responds well to treatments. Medications and therapy help people with schizophrenia recover from the illness. Unfortunately, people with schizophrenia often have trouble staying with treatment.
Donna Hill Howes, RN
Family Medicine
Schizophrenia is a serious brain illness. Many people with schizophrenia are disabled by their symptoms.

People with schizophrenia may hear voices other people don't hear. They may think other people are trying to hurt them. Sometimes they don't make any sense when they talk. The disorder makes it hard for them to keep a job or take care of themselves.

This answer is based on source information from the National Institute of Mental Health.

Schizophrenia is one of the most complex of all mental health disorders. It involves a severe, chronic, and disabling disturbance of the brain. And, what was once classified as a psychological disease is now classified as a brain disease. One of the most disturbing and puzzling characteristics of schizophrenia is the sudden onset of its psychotic symptoms.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), approximately 2.4 million Americans are affected by schizophrenia. In most cases, schizophrenia first appears in men during their late teens or early 20s. In women, schizophrenia often first appears during their 20s or early 30s.

There are many types of schizophrenia, a malady of the brain that can cause a myriad of symptoms. A few of these symptoms include seeing or hearing things that are not there, a lack of emotion or interest, and problems remembering information. People with schizophrenia are at risk for suicide, and they may harm others. While there is no cure for the disorder, doctors can treat schizophrenia's symptoms by prescribing medications and monitoring the disorder.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.