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Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that makes it hard to think logically, have normal emotional responses,

behave normally in social situations, and tell THE DIFFERENCE between real and unreal experiences.

Schizophrenia is a group of disorders that affects 1 percent of American adults. There are five subtypes, and each disorder can range from mild to severe. Schizophrenia is a lifelong condition, but it can be managed successfully with treatment.

Learn the signs and symptoms »

Schizophrenia looks different in each person. Symptoms vary greatly both among and within the various types of the disorder. These are the most common symptoms:

• False beliefs (i.e., delusions)
• Seeing or hearing things that aren’t there (hallucinations)
• Little interest in daily life
• Lack of emotion
• Inappropriate emotion (such as laughing at a funeral)
• Neglecting personal hygiene
• Inability to process information
• Memory problems
• Disorganized speech or behavior
• Catatonic or unresponsive behavior

Learn about getting help »

Treatment varies depending on the type of schizophrenia, the severity and the person’s specific situation. However, schizophrenia can be successfully treated with a combination of medication and psychotherapy.

Two types of medications are usually used to treat schizophrenia: typical antipsychotics (e.g., Thorazine, Haldol) and atypical antipsychotics (e.g., Abilify, Seroquel). Each medication has its own set of side effects, so it’s important to discuss this with your doctor. Choosing the right medication is a process. An individual might try several medications or combinations of medications before finding the best one.

Psychotherapy can take various forms. In individual therapy, people with schizophrenia see a therapist, who helps them learn to cope with stress, challenge their beliefs and hallucinations and learn more about their illness. Family therapy educates families about schizophrenia and how they can best help their loved one. Group therapy allows individuals to share their experiences, brainstorm solutions and reduce the tendency to isolate themselves.

In addition, communities typically offer programs for individuals with schizophrenia that help them find employment and housing and learn important skills necessary for daily life.

Sometimes, a person with schizophrenia will need to be hospitalized. Usually this happens if a person has severe delusions and hallucinations, has threatened to harm themselves or has suicidal thoughts.

Please be sure to select your school above so we can provide you with information about resources and help on or near your campus.

Learn how to help a friend »

Are you worried that a friend or loved one may be schizophrenic? You may see warning signs that they can’t or don’t want to acknowledge. Maybe they seem withdrawn or zone out of a conversation for a long period of time. Maybe their speech is becoming disorganized or they seem to be losing interest in daily life. Don’t assume that the problem will go away on its own, or that your friend can just “snap out of it.”

Before talking about your concerns with your friend, it’s a good idea to educate yourself on the symptoms and causes of schizophrenia. Explain to your friend that lately they’ve been behaving in ways that worry you. Some people get defensive or angry when they’re confronted; your conversation may go more smoothly if you don’t judge, get upset, or make accusations. Instead, try listening to your friend and asking open-ended questions about their feelings. You can’t force your friend into action, but you can make a big difference by offering your encouragement and help in seeking treatment.