Schizophrenia is a serious brain disorder. It affects people all over the world. Schizophrenia patients experience progressive personality changes and a breakdown in their relationships with the outside world.
People who suffer from schizophrenia can have a very broad range of symptoms which cause great distress to themselves and their families. They have disorganised and abnormal thinking, behaviour and language and become emotionally unresponsive or withdrawn.
People used to think that schizophrenia was "all in your head". Today, we know the that schizophrenia is a brain disorder. There are differences, deep within the brain, of some people with schizophrenia. Researchers found this out by taking detailed pictures of the brain.
How do you get Schizophrenia?
This is still a mystery. The cause of schizophrenia is thought to involve many different factors. Researchers think that genes may play a role because you are more likely to get schizophrenia if you have a parent, brother or sister with the disorder.
The other causes of the illness remain unknown, although it is thought that schizophrenia sufferers have some parts of the brain that have not developed in the normal way. Environmental factors may also play a role. For example, infants who have birth trauma may be at a greater risk of developing schizophrenia.
There are other environmental factors – like poverty, for example – that can trigger the onset of schizophrenia, although they are not “causes”. Other factors like this are stress, for example while moving house or after losing a job, and substance abuse.
How serious is Schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia is a severe, chronic (long-term) brain disorder which interferes with your ability to think clearly, separate fantasy from reality, manage emotions, make decisions and relate to other people. it is a myth that people who have schizophrenia are very dangerous - this is rarely the case.
How long does Schizophrenia last?
Although schizophrenia is treatable, relapses are common and the illness may never fully resolve.
How is Schizophrenia treated?
Despite extensive research there is still no known "cure" for schizophrenia. However, the outlook for people with schizophrenia has improved greatly in the last few decades and many people can be treated outside hospital and live within the community for most of their lives.
Prompt and effective treatment can certainly make a difference. Treatment includes counselling, social support and rehabilitation. In addition anti-psychotic medicines are available to treat the worst symptoms of the illness, such as hallucinations, but there is no "cure" at present.