Schizophrenia

How it affects society

What is Schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a chronic, severe, and disabling brain disorder


Effects of Schizophrenia

People with schizophrenia may not make sense when they talk. They may sit for hours without moving or talking. Sometimes people with schizophrenia seem perfectly fine until they talk about what they are really thinking.


Many people with schizophrenia have difficulty holding a job or caring for themselves, so they rely on others for help.


What causes Schizophrenia?

Scientists have long known that schizophrenia runs in families. The illness occurs in 1 percent of the general population, but it occurs in 10 percent of people who have a first-degree relative with the disorder, such as a parent, brother, or sister. People who have second-degree relatives (aunts, uncles, grandparents, or cousins) with the disease also develop schizophrenia more often than the general population. The risk is highest for an identical twin of a person with schizophrenia. He or she has a 40 to 65 percent chance of developing the disorder.


Causes continued

Also, in small ways the brains of people with schizophrenia look different than those of healthy people. For example, fluid-filled cavities at the center of the brain, called ventricles, are larger in some people with schizophrenia. The brains of people with the illness also tend to have less gray matter, and some areas of the brain may have less or more activity.


Treatment

Treatment helps relieve many symptoms of schizophrenia, but most people who have the disorder cope with symptoms throughout their lives. However, many people with schizophrenia can lead rewarding and meaningful lives in their communities. Researchers are developing more effective medications and using new research tools to understand the causes of schizophrenia. In the years to come, this work may help prevent and better treat the illness.


Who is at risk?

About 1% of Americans have this illness.

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. Men tend to experience symptoms a little earlier than women. Most of the time, people do not get schizophrenia after age 45. Schizophrenia rarely occurs in children, but awareness of childhood-onset schizophrenia is increasing.


Symptoms

  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Thought and movement disorders



Living with someone that has Schizophrenia

People with schizophrenia often resist treatment. They may not think they need help because they believe their delusions or hallucinations are real. In these cases, family and friends may need to take action to keep their loved one safe. Laws vary from state to state, and it can be difficult to force a person with a mental disorder into treatment or hospitalization. But when a person becomes dangerous to himself or herself, or to others, family members or friends may have to call the police to take their loved one to the hospital.


Work cited

"Schizophrenia." NIMH RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Jan. 2014. <http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/schizophrenia/index.shtml?utm_source=publish2>.