Friday, September 3, 2010

Friday Five: Facts About Schizophrenia

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- Schizophrenia is a chronic, severe and disabling brain disorder that has affected people throughout history. About one percent of Americans have this illness.

- People with the disorder may have a variety of symptoms, including hearing voices, paranoid thoughts, hallucinations and/or disordered thinking.  Symptoms vary from person to person. 

- 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.

- Experts think schizophrenia is caused by genetic and environmental factors.  Because the causes of schizophrenia are still unknown, treatments focus on eliminating the symptoms of the disease. Treatments include antipsychotic medications and various psychosocial treatments.

- The outlook for people with schizophrenia continues to improve. Although there is not yet a cure for schizophrenia, treatments that work well are available. Many people with schizophrenia lead meaningful lives in recovery.

(This week's Friday Five facts are taken from the National Institute of Mental Health's Schizophrenia booklet. For more information about Schizophrenia and other mental illnesses, visit the NAMI Southwestern Pennsylvania website.)

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