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Schizophrenia FAQs

Reviewed by Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

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Q:Schizophrenia is the most disabling of all mental illnesses. True or False?

A:True. The most chronic and disabling of the major mental illnesses, schizophrenia is a lifelong disease that cannot be cured. It can usually be controlled with proper treatment.

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Q:There are 50 million people with schizophrenia in America. True or False?

A:False. About 1% of Americans have this illness, which translates to about 2 million people.

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Q:What is psychosis?

A:Psychosis is a condition in which a person cannot distinguish imagination from reality. Psychosis is a prominent feature of schizophrenia but is not unique to this illness. Psychosis can result in delusions or prominent hallucinations where one believes that imagined experiences and/or beliefs are very real.

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Q:Schizophrenia is almost always caused by the use of street drugs. True or False?

A:False. Experts don't know what causes schizophrenia. In some people, brain chemistry and brain structure are not normal. Family history may be a factor. Schizophrenia is not caused by anything a person did, or by personal weakness, bad choices, or a person's upbringing.

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Q:What is the most common hallucination in schizophrenia?

A:Hearing voices. Hallucinations are things a person sees, hears, smells, or feels that no one else can see, hear, smell, or feel. Many schizophrenic patients hear voices. Sometimes the voices talk to each other. People with schizophrenia may hear voices for a long time before the problem is noticed.

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Q:Schizophrenia affects more men than women. True or False?

A:True. Schizophrenia affects men about one and a half times more commonly than women.

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Q:What are the first symptoms of schizophrenia?

A:Outbursts of anger. First symptoms of schizophrenia often include outbursts of anger, loss of interest, odd behavior, confusion, and fear.

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Q:Who has more severe symptoms at the onset of schizophrenia: Men or Women?

A:Men. Men tend to have more severe symptoms than women do. Symptoms of schizophrenia usually start in the late teens to mid-20s for men and the late 20s to 30s for women. The symptoms may start suddenly or happen gradually.

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Q:Many schizophrenics believe that what habit eases their symptoms?

A:Smoking. Many people who have schizophrenia smoke cigarettes. This may be because smoking helps with some of the symptoms. But smoking makes other illnesses, such as cancer and heart disease, more likely.

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