When people suffer from extreme paranoia, or have hallucinations such as seeing things that other people can't see or hearing things that other people can't hear, they may be experiencing symptoms of psychosis. While there are a number of causes of psychosis, (e.g. illicit drug use, dementia), people who are psychotic may also be suffering from a severe mental health condition known as schizophrenia.

Table of Contents
1. Introduction 6. Types of Schizophrenia
2. Definition 7. Treatment
3. Vital Statistics 8. Course
4. Sign and Symptoms    
5. Risk Factors    

Schizophrenia is a chronic, severe, and disabling brain disorder requiring life-long treatment. It is marked by the presence of delusions, hallucinations, and paranoia over a period of time. Abnormal speech patterns, grossly disorganized behavior, and even catatonia, are also features of schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is an extremely debilitating condition. Without treatment, schizophrenia affects the ability to think clearly, manage emotions, and interact appropriately with other people.

  Vital Statistics  

Schizophrenia affects about 1% of the population. In people who have close relatives with schizophrenia, the illness is estimated to be about 10% in frequency. In the United States alone there are estimated to be over 300,000 acute schizophrenic episodes annually. Suicide is a high cause of mortality in patients suffering from schizophrenia, with approximately 25-50% of schizophrenic patients attempting suicide over the course of the illness, and with 10% actually succeeding. These sobering statistics alone account for a mortality rate eight times as high as that of the general population. Another sobering statistic regarding schizophrenia is the fact that in the United States over 20% of all Social Security benefit dollars are used for the care of schizophrenic patients, leading to direct and indirect costs of schizophrenia estimated to be in the tens of billions of dollars every year, making it an extremely expensive illness to manage.

  Sign and Symptoms  

People with schizophrenia may experience auditory or visual hallucinations where they hear voices other people don't hear, or see things that other people don't see. They may also experience other types of hallucinations such as olfactory or tactile hallucinations. People with schizophrenia also often become paranoid, and may believe, for example, that others are reading their minds, controlling their thoughts, or plotting to harm them. They may suffer from delusions as well. These experiences can cause fearfulness, social withdrawal and isolation, or extreme agitation. People with schizophrenia may make little sense when they talk. They can also display a marked lack of motivation, and self-neglect in regards to their hygiene and daily care, as well as in activities and interests. In fact people with schizophrenia may engage in little or no activity and have no interests at all. Also, people with schizophrenia frequently exhibit a reduced or inappropriate range of emotions in their interactions with others. This impaired ability to properly interact with others in a social sense often makes it extremely difficult for people suffering from schizophrenia to develop lasting and meaningful relationships with others around them. People suffering from schizophrenia may also have poor insight into their condition as well.

  Risk Factors  

The cause of schizophrenia is believed to be multi-factorial, resulting from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. Certain factors seem to increase the risk of developing or triggering schizophrenia. Some of these factors include:

  • Exposure to viruses while in the womb
  • Having a family history of schizophrenia
  • Stressful life circumstances during one's young years while being raised
  Types of Schizophrenia  

Schizophrenia is generally divided into a number of subtypes so that healthcare providers can better understand and provide care for people who suffer from this illness. The subtype categories are broken down according to the basis of clinical presentation, which is to say that categories are defined by the type of symptoms one presents with. These different types of schizophrenia generally include:

  • Paranoid Schizophrenia
  • Disorganized Schizophrenia
  • Catatonic Schizophrenia
  • Undifferentiated Schizophrenia
  • Residual Schizophrenia

Medications are most often used to treat the illness of schizophrenia. The mainstay of medication management in treating schizophrenia is a group of medications called Antipsychotics. There are 2 different classes of antipsychotics. The first group of antipsychotics is known as Traditional or First Generation Antipsychotics. This group includes medications such as:

  • Haloperidol (Haldol)
  • Thioridazine (Mellaril)
  • Fluphenazine (Prolixin)
  • Thiothixene) Navane

These medications are older drugs, and while quite effective in treating the symptoms of schizophrenia, they often have more side effects than newer medications on the market. The second group of Antipsychotics is known appropriately enough as Second Generation Antipsychotics. They are often referred to as Atypical Antipsychotics as well because of the different mechanism of actions they have in working in the Central Nervous System, as opposed to the Traditional Antipsychotics. They are newer drugs and have fewer side effects than the older First Generation Antipsychotics. Frequently used Atypical Antipsychotics include:

  • Paliperidone (Invega)
  • Quetiapine (Seroquel)
  • Risperidone (Risperdal)
  • Ziprasidone (Geodon)
  • Aripiprazole (Abilify)
  • Olanzapine (Zyprexa)
  • Clozapine (Clozaril)

All of the antipsychotics, whether referred to as first or second generation, or traditional or atypical, effectively treat symptoms of schizophrenia and may help risk of relapse in those who are afflicted with this serious illness.


Symptoms of schizophrenia usually emerge in men in their late teens and early 20s and in women in their mid 20s to early 30s. As of now schizophrenia is a permanent condition. It is a life-long disease without a cure. Unfortunately, medical science has not advanced enough to find a permanent cure for this condition. However there is good news to report as well. As medical science advances, a permanent cure for schizophrenia does not seem so far out of reach as it once did. Also, because of the number of newer and advanced medications on the market, it is a fact that if people with schizophrenia are placed on an effective medication regimen and stay away from such vices as alcohol and illegal drugs, which can greatly complicate and exacerbate the course of their schizophrenic condition, they can often be symptom free and experience a good quality of life in society and in their community.

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