|Disorders - Schizophrenia|
|Written by Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration|
Contrary to the common misconception, schizophrenia does not mean "split or multiple personality." And, although people with schizophrenia often are portrayed as violent on television and in movies, that is seldom the case. Schizophrenia is one of the most disabling and puzzling mental disorders. Just as "cancer" refers to numerous related illnesses, many researchers now consider schizophrenia to be a group of mental disorders rather than a single illness.
How is schizophrenia developed?
Generally, schizophrenia begins in late adolescence or early adulthood. Research indicates a genetic link to the development of schizophrenia. A child who has one parent with schizophrenia, for example, has about a 10 percent chance of developing the illness, compared with a one percent chance if neither parent has schizophrenia. Current research implicates abnormalities in both the brain's structure and biochemical activities. Researchers also tend to agree that environmental influences may be involved in the onset of schizophrenia.
More information about schizophrenia:
Psychotic, or "positive," symptoms include delusions (bizarre thoughts that have no basis in reality); hallucinations (hearing voices, seeing nonexistent things, and experiencing sensations, such as burning, that have no source); and disordered thinking (apparent from a person's fragmented, disconnected and sometimes nonsensical speech). Other "negative" symptoms include social withdrawal, extreme apathy, diminished motivation, and blunted emotional expression.
Active symptoms of the illness (such as a psychotic episode) for at least two weeks, with other symptoms lasting six months.
People who have schizophrenia often require medication to control the most troubling symptoms. Antipsychotic medications help bring biochemical imbalances closer to normal. The newer drugs may also be effective for symptoms such as social withdrawal, extreme apathy, and blunted emotional expression. More such drugs are being developed.
After these symptoms are controlled, psychotherapy and self-help groups can assist people who have schizophrenia learn to develop social skills, cope with stress, identify early warning signs of relapse, and prolong periods of remission. In addition, support groups and family therapy can give loved ones a better understanding of the illness and help them provide the compassion and support that play an important role in recovery. The good news is that more many of those who have schizophrenia can work, live in the community or with their families, and enjoy friends if they receive continuous, appropriate treatment. According to the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, treatment of schizophrenia is successful in 60 percent of patients.
Note: This fact sheet...
|Disorders - Schizophrenia|
|Written by National Health & Medical Research Council of Australia|
Schizophrenia is a mental illness which affects one person in every hundred. Schizophrenia interferes with the mental functioning of a person and, in the long term, may cause changes to a person's personality.
First onset is usually in adolescence or early adulthood. It can develop in older people, but this is not nearly as common. Some people may experience only one or more brief episodes in their lives. For others, it may remain a recurrent or life-long condition. The onset of illness may be rapid, with acute symptoms developing over several weeks, or it may be slow, developing over months or even years.During onset, the person often withdraws from others, gets depressed and anxious and develops extreme fears or obsessions.
What are the symptoms of schizophrenia?
Major symptoms of schizophrenia include:
Other symptoms of schizophrenia include:
What causes schizophrenia?
No single cause has been identified, but several factors are believed to cont...
|Disorders - Schizophrenia|
| Written by National Health & Medical Research Council of Australia |
What treatment is available?
The most effective treatment for schizophrenia involves medication, psychological counselling and help with managing its impact on everyday life.
The development of anti-psychosis medications has revolutionised the treatment of schizophrenia. Now, most people can leave hospital and live in the community. Not all people with schizophrenia have to go to hospital and care can be delivered in the community.
These medications work by correcting the chemical imbalance associated with the illness. New but well tested medications are emerging which promote a much more complete recovery with fewer side effects.
Schizophrenia is an illness, like many physical illnesses. For example, just as insulin is a lifeline for a person with diabetes, anti-psychosis medications are a lifeline for a person with schizophrenia. As with diabetes, some people will need to take medication indefinitely to prevent a relapse and keep symptoms under control.
Though there is no known cure for schizophrenia, regular contact with a doctor or psychiatrist and possibly a multidisciplinary team of mental health nurses, social workers, occupational therapists and psychologists can help a person with schizophrenia organise and do the important things in life.
Sometimes, specific therapies directed towards symptoms such as delusions may also be useful. Counselling and support can be helpful for problems with finances, accommodation, work, interaction with others and loneliness. Effective treatment can assist the person in leading a productive life.
Where to go for help
For information on services, check the Community Help and Welfare Services and 24-hour emergency numbers in your local telephone directory.