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Why Is Schizophrenia A Serious Mental Disorder

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Having A Parent With The Condition

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Having a parent with a serious mental illness like schizophrenia is the strongest known risk factor for developing a serious mental illness yourself. Children with a parent who has a serious mental illness have a 1 in 3 chance of developing a serious mental illness themselves.

Although only 1 in 100 people get schizophrenia, about 1 in 10 people with schizophrenia have a parent with the illness.

What Can I Expect If I Have This Condition

Schizophrenia is a condition where the outlook varies greatly from person to person. People who have schizophrenia tend to struggle with work, relationships and self care. However, with treatment, some are able to work, care for themselves and have fulfilling relationships.

This condition also often affects people in cycles. That means many people with this condition go through periods where the condition flares up and their symptoms get much worse, followed by a period where symptoms improve but they still have some ongoing struggles.

Despite how serious this condition is, treatment does make it possible for people with schizophrenia to live with the condition and minimize how it affects their lives.

How long does schizophrenia last?

Schizophrenia is a lifelong condition. While some people will recover from this condition after having only one or two episodes, schizophrenia symptoms can return unpredictably. People with a history of schizophrenia are in remission as long as symptoms dont return.

Whats the outlook for this condition?

Schizophrenia itself isnt a deadly condition. However, its effects on a person can lead to dangerous or harmful behaviors, to both themselves and the people around them.

What Is The Outlook For People With Schizophrenia

With proper treatment, most people with schizophrenia can lead productive and fulfilling lives. Depending on how severe the condition is and how well they get and stick with treatment, they should be able to live with their families or in community settings rather than in long-term psychiatric hospitals.

Ongoing research on the brain and how brain disorders happen will likely lead to more effective medicines with fewer side effects.

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How Can Caregivers Help Individuals Who Have Serious Mental Illness

Family members and caregivers often play a large role in helping and supporting a loved one who has serious mental illness . A 2016 study by the National Alliance for Caregiving, in partnership with Mental Health America and the National Alliance on Mental Illness, estimated that more than 8 million Americans provide care to an adult with an emotional or mental health issue, mainly related to SMI.7The term caregiver may also extend beyond an individuals family. This includes friends, teachers, neighbors, coworkers and others in the community. Hence, the term caregiver can refer to anyone who gives emotional, financial, or practical support to a person with SMI.

Caregivers can help loved ones who have SMI in many ways. Yet it is often a learning process, as every person with a mental health condition experiences it in a slightly different way. Caregivers may:

The 2016 study also highlights some of the challenges that caregivers may face. Four in 10 caregivers struggled to find an accurate diagnosis for their loved one. Families reported that it took 11.8 years, on average, for their loved one to receive an accurate diagnosis. Caregivers noted several barriers to accessing health care services and long-term services and supports. This includes day programs, peer support, case managers, inpatient treatment centers, and low availability of services in rural areas.

How Common Is Schizophrenia

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It affects around 1 in every 100 people over the course of their life.

It affects men and women equally and seems to be more common in city areas and in some ethnic minority groups. It is rare before the age of 15, but can start at any time after this, most often between the ages of 15 to 35.

We dont yet know for sure. It is probably a combination of several different things, which will be different for different people.

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What Are The Early Symptoms Of Schizophrenia

The condition usually shows its first signs in men in their late teens or early 20s. It mostly affects women in their early 20s and 30s. The period when symptoms first start and before full psychosis is called the prodromal period. It can last days, weeks, or even years. It can be hard to spot because thereâs usually no specific trigger. You might only notice subtle behavioral changes, especially in teens. This includes:

  • A change in grades
  • Difficulty sleeping

Does Everyone With Schizophrenia Have All The Symptoms

No. You can hear voices and have negative symptoms, but may not have delusional ideas. Some people with delusional ideas seem to have very few negative symptoms.

If you only have thought disorder and negative symptoms, they may not be recognised for years. Other aspects include:

  • Loss of “insight”: it feels as though everyone else is wrong, that they just cant understand the things that you can. You feel that the problem is with the rest of the world, not with you.
  • If you have schizophrenia for the first time, there is a roughly 50-50 chance that you will feel depressed, often before you get more obvious symptoms.
  • Around 1 in 7 people with continuing symptoms will become depressed. This can be mistaken for negative symptoms.
  • Antipsychotic medication has been blamed but research suggests that it actually helps depression in schizophrenia.
  • If you have schizophrenia and feel depressed, make sure that you tell someone and that they take you seriously.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a chronic and severe mental disorder that affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves. People with schizophrenia may seem like they have lost touch with reality. Although schizophrenia is not as common as other mental disorders, the symptoms can be very disabling.

Schizophrenia is a severe and debilitating brain and behavior disorder affecting how one thinks, feels and acts. People with schizophrenia can have trouble distinguishing reality from fantasy, expressing and managing normal emotions and making decisions. Thought processes may also be disorganized and the motivation to engage in lifes activities may be blunted. Those with the condition may hear imaginary voices and believe others are reading their minds, controlling their thoughts or plotting to harm them.

While schizophrenia is a chronic disorder, it can be treated with medication, psychological and social treatments, substantially improving the lives of people with the condition.

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Schizophrenia affects men and women equally. It occurs at similar rates in all ethnic groups around the world. Symptoms such as hallucinations and delusions usually start between ages 16 and 30.

Learn more about childhood-onset schizophrenia from this expert researcher:

Find answers to more questions about Schizophrenia in our Ask the Expert section.

How Soon After Treatment Will I Feel Better

Schizophrenia: Symptoms, Cause, Pathophysiology, Diagnosis and Treatments, Animation.

Your healthcare provider is the best person to tell you how long it will take for medication and therapy to work, as different medications take different amounts of time before their effects are noticeable. They can also tell you about other treatment options that might help if the first attempt isnt effective.

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What Are Serious Mental Illnesses

Mental illnesses are disorders that affect a persons thinking, mood, and/or behavior and they can range from mild to severe. According to the National Institute on Mental Health, nearly one-in-five adults live with a mental illness.

A mental illness that interferes with a persons life and ability to function is called a serious mental illness . With the right treatment, people with SMI can live productive and enjoyable lives.

There are many kinds of serious mental illnesses. Common ones include:

  • Bipolar disorder is a brain disorder that causes intense shifts in mood, energy, and activity levels. People have manic episodes in which they feel extremely happy or euphoric, and energized. Usually , they also have depressive episodes in which they feel deeply sad and have low energy.
  • Major depressive disorder is one of the most common mental disorders. Symptoms vary from person to person, but may include sadness, hopelessness, anxiety, pessimism, irritability, worthlessness, and fatigue. These symptoms interfere with a persons ability to work, sleep, eat, and enjoy their life.
  • Schizophrenia is a chronic and severe mental disorder that causes people to interpret reality abnormally. People may experience hallucinations, delusions, extremely disordered thinking and a reduced ability to function in their daily life.
  • View and share videos and fact sheets about SMI.

    Isn’t Schizophrenia A Split Personality

    No. Too many people have the idea that someone with schizophrenia can appear perfectly normal at one moment, and change into a different person the next. This is not true.

    People can misuse the word schizophrenia in two different ways to mean:

    • Having mixed or contradictory feelings about something. This is just part of human nature – a much better word is ambivalent.
    • That someone behaves in very different ways at different times. Again, this is just part of human nature.

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    What Causes Schizophrenia

    The exact cause of schizophrenia isnât known. But like cancer and diabetes, schizophrenia is a real illness with a biological basis. Researchers have uncovered a number of things that appear to make someone more likely to get schizophrenia, including:

    • Genetics : Schizophrenia can run in families, which means a greater likelihood to have schizophrenia may be passed on from parents to their children.
    • Brain chemistry and circuits: People with schizophrenia may not be able to regulate brain chemicals called neurotransmitters that control certain pathways, or “circuits,” of nerve cells that affect thinking and behavior.
    • Brain abnormality: Research has found abnormal brain structure in people with schizophrenia. But this doesnât apply to all people with schizophrenia. It can affect people without the disease.
    • Environment: Things like viral infections, exposure to toxins like , or highly stressful situations may trigger schizophrenia in people whose genes make them more likely to get the disorder. Schizophrenia more often surfaces when the body is having hormonal and physical changes, like those that happen during the teen and young adult years.

    Who Gets Schizophrenia


    Anyone can get schizophrenia. It affects people all over the world, from all races and cultures. While it can happen at any age, schizophrenia typically first appears in the teenage years or early 20s. The disorder affects men and women equally, although symptoms generally appear earlier in men. The earlier the symptoms start, the more severe the illness tends to be. Children over the age of 5 can have schizophrenia, but itâs rare before adolescence.

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    What Is Mental Health

    Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make healthy choices.1 Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.

    Although the terms are often used interchangeably, poor mental health and mental illness are not the same. A person can experience poor mental health and not be diagnosed with a mental illness. Likewise, a person diagnosed with a mental illness can experience periods of physical, mental, and social well-being.

    Doesn’t Schizophrenia Make People Dangerous

    Usually not. Any violence is usually sparked off by street drugs or alcohol – not unlike people who dont suffer from schizophrenia.

    There is a higher risk of violent behaviour if you have schizophrenia, but it is very small compared to the effects of drugs and alcohol. People with schizophrenia are far more likely to be harmed by other people than other people are to be harmed by them.

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    How Does Schizophrenia Affect Families

    Schizophrenia takes an enormous toll on afflicted families. Many people with schizophrenia have difficulty maintaining a job or living independently, though it is important to recognize that treatment, especially at the onset of symptoms, allows individuals with a diagnosis of schizophrenia to lead meaningful, productive lives.

    Dissociation And Dissociative Disorders

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    Dissociation is a mental process where a person disconnects from their thoughts, feelings, memories or sense of identity. Dissociative disorders include dissociative amnesia, dissociative fugue, depersonalisation disorder and dissociative identity disorder.

    For more information see: Dissociation and dissociative disorders.

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    Cpa Care Programme Approach

    This is a way of making sure that people with schizophrenia get appropriate care and support. It involves:

    • a care coordinator who is responsible for organising all the different parts of your care and treatment.
    • regular meetings every 3 6 months. These involve you, your care coordinator, your psychiatrist and any other people who are giving you care or support. This can include your family or carers.
    • a care plan that is checked at the regular CPA meetings. It is re-written each time and you will have a copy to approve or change.
    • plans are made with you at these meetings about what to do if you find yourself becoming unwell again, or run into difficulties.

    How Common Is This Condition

    Here are some statistics about how common schizophrenia is worldwide:

    • New cases: There are about 2.77 million new schizophrenia diagnoses every year worldwide.
    • Average number of worldwide cases: There are about 22.1 million cases globally at any time .
    • Odds of developing it at some point in your lifetime: About 0.85% of the global population will experience schizophrenia at some point in their life.

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    What Tests Will Be Done To Diagnose This Condition

    There arent any diagnostic tests for schizophrenia-spectrum conditions. But healthcare providers will likely run tests to rule out other conditions before diagnosing schizophrenia. The most likely types of tests include:

    • Imaging tests. Healthcare providers will often use computerized tomography , magnetic resonance imaging and other imaging tests to rule out problems like stroke, brain injuries, tumors and other changes to your brain structure.
    • Blood, urine and cerebrospinal fluid tests. These tests look for chemical changes in bodily fluids that might explain changes in your behavior. They can rule out heavy metal toxicity or other causes of poisoning, infections and more.
    • Brain activity testing. An electroencephalogram detects and records the electrical activity in your brain. This test can help rule out conditions like epilepsy.

    How Does Schizophrenia Affect Society


    Schizophrenia is associated with considerable disability and may affect educational and occupational performance. People with schizophrenia are 2 3 times more likely to die early than the general population . This is often due to physical illnesses, such as cardiovascular, metabolic and infectious diseases.

    Why does schizophrenia happen?

    The exact causes of schizophrenia are unknown. Research suggests a combination of physical, genetic, psychological and environmental factors can make a person more likely to develop the condition. Some people may be prone to schizophrenia, and a stressful or emotional life event might trigger a psychotic episode.

    What percentage of the world has schizophrenia?

    Worldwide about 1 percent of the population is diagnosed with schizophrenia, and approximately 1.2% of Americans have the disorder. About 1.5 million people will be diagnosed with schizophrenia this year around the world.

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    For Family Members Of People With Schizophrenia

    It can be hard to understand what is happening if your son or daughter, husband or wife, brother or sister develops schizophrenia. Sometimes, no-one realises what is wrong.

    Your relative may become odd, distant or just different from how they used to be. They may avoid contact with people and become less active.

    If they have delusional ideas, they may talk about them but may also keep quiet about them. If they are hearing voices, they may suddenly look away from you as if they are listening to something else.

    When you speak to them, they may say little, or be difficult to understand. Their sleep pattern may change so that they stay up all night and sleep during the day.

    In a teenager, you may wonder if this behaviour is just rebellious. It can happen so slowly that only when you look back can you see when it started.

    It can be particularly difficult to recognise these changes during the teenage years, when young people are changing so much anyway.

    You may start to blame yourself and wonder Was it my fault? You may wonder if anyone else in the family is going to be affected, what the future holds, or how they can get the best help.

    How Do I Take Care Of Myself

    People with schizophrenia should do the following to help care for themselves and manage their condition:

    • Take medications as prescribed. One of the most critical things a person with schizophrenia can do to help themselves is to take their medications. If you have schizophrenia, you should not stop your medication without talking to your healthcare provider. Sudden stopping of medication often speeds up the return of psychosis symptoms. Side effects are common with antipsychotics. However, there are many antipsychotic medications, so its often possible to work with your healthcare provider to find one that both works well for you and has minimal or no side effects.
    • See your healthcare provider as recommended. Your healthcare provider will set up a schedule for you to see them. These visits are especially important to help with managing your condition.
    • Dont ignore or avoid symptoms. Schizophrenia is more likely to respond and have a good outcome with early diagnosis and treatment.
    • Avoid alcohol and recreational drug use. Alcohol and drug use can make schizophrenia symptoms worse and can lead to other issues. This includes using prescription medications in a way other than prescribed.
    • Consider seeking support. Organizations such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness can offer resources and information that can help.

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