9 Things You Should Know about Schizophrenia

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Schizophrenia is treatable

Schizophrenia is a chronic and often disabling mental illness that affects how a person thinks, feels and acts according to Mental Health American of Illinois. It is not curable; however, there are medications that can help manage the symptoms. Antipsychotic medications work to reduce hallucinations, delusions, and agitation.


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Positive symptoms

Positive symptoms are not usually seen in healthy people, such as hallucinations and delusions. They can come and go, but while present, it can be difficult to discern real from fantasy.  Hallucinations include hearing voices, seeing or smelling things that others do not see or perceive, according to the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI.) Delusions are false beliefs, such as thoughts that someone is trying to control or harm them, that do not change even when presented with new facts.


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Negative symptoms

Negative symptoms are those that take away from normal emotions and behaviors or diminish a person’s abilities, according to NAMI. They include the inability to experience pleasure, difficulty with planning, initiating or completing activities, and social withdrawal. These are sometimes confused or misdiagnosed as depressive symptoms.


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Cognitive symptoms

Schizophrenia includes cognitive symptoms, such as difficulty understanding or processing information, trouble focusing and decreased problem-solving abilities. These can be difficult to notice, especially in the early stages, because they are mild, even though they still make daily living difficult. Cognitive thinking can also include disorganized thinking, problems remembering things, moving from one topic to another in a nonsensical fashion, according to Mental Health American of Illinois.


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Symptoms often appear in the late teens or early adult years

Hallucinations and delusions often start between the ages of 16 and 30 years old, according to the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation. It is very rare for someone to develop symptoms of schizophrenia after the age of 45, and it rarely occurs in children, although it does sometimes occur.


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Anosognosia is common

Anosognosia is a lack of insight into the illness. When a person with schizophrenia has anosognosia, they are unaware they have the illness, according to NAMI. Approximately 50 percent of people with schizophrenia also have anosognosia, according to NAMI. This makes them more at risk of homelessness or arrest, and they are much more likely to stop taking medications.


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Medications for schizophrenia often have side effects

One of the main causes of non-compliance with medications in people with schizophrenia is the side effects of antipsychotic medications. They can cause drowsiness, dizziness, blurred vision, sensitivity to the sun, skin rashes, menstrual problems, and movement disorders. People taking antipsychotics often gain weight and can be at risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians.


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Everyone with schizophrenia is not disabled

With medication and proper treatment, many people with schizophrenia lead productive and fulfilling lives, according to Mental Health American of Illinois. Treatment often includes medication and rehabilitative services that build skills and confidence including self-help groups, housing programs, employment programs, therapy and counseling, and crisis intervention services.


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Most people with schizophrenia are not violent

Public perception often associates schizophrenia with violence, however, people with schizophrenia are 14 times more likely to be victims of violence than the perpetrator, according to an article published in the Schizophrenia Bulletin. Most people with schizophrenia are not dangerous or violent, according to the American Psychiatric Association.


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People with schizophrenia are at a high risk of suicide

Those with schizophrenia attempt suicide more often than the general public according to the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation. Approximately 10 percent ofpeople with schizophrenia will complete a suicide within the first 10 years of the illness.