Schizophrenia - Describe Your Experience

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What is the definition of schizophrenia?

Sometimes colloquially but inaccurately referred to as split personality disorder, schizophrenia is a chronic, severe, debilitating mental illness. It affects about 1% of the population, corresponding to more than 2 million people in the United States alone. Other statistics about schizophrenia include that it affects men about one and a half times more commonly than women. It is one of the psychotic mental disorders and is characterized by symptoms of thought, behavior, and social problems. The thought problems associated with schizophrenia are described as psychosis, in that the person's thinking is completely out of touch with reality at times. For example, the sufferer may hear voices or see people that are in no way present or feel like bugs are crawling on their skin when there are none. The individual with this disorder may also have disorganized speech, disorganized behavior, physically rigid or lax behavior (catatonia), significantly decreased behaviors or feelings, as well as delusions, which are ideas about themselves or others that have no basis in reality (for example, the individual might experience paranoia, in that he or she thinks others are plotting against them when they are not; a false belief of superiority, that thoughts are not one's own or that ordinary events have a special and personal meeting).

Given that an individual can have various predominant symptoms of schizophrenia at different times as well as at the same time, the most recent Diagnostic Manual for Mental Disorders has done away with what used to be described as five types of schizophrenia.

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See what others are saying

Comment from: Sleepyone, 35-44 Male (Patient) Published: December 28

I am not sure if this is unusual. I began with a depressive episode mixed with psychosis aged 20. My diagnosis was confirmed as schizophrenia around the age of 40. I am now 41. I am happily married with 3 lovely daughters. I have run my own business for the last 3 years, currently operating with a modest turnover and with potential for the future. I face self-stigma everyday as I am living with a condition few truly understand. At times, I even invalidate my own understanding because the urban myth surrounding the condition (violent menace to society) at times tells me that my experience does not count. I am preparing to begin a course of study at the highest professional level in my field, and I want very much to disprove the so-called truth that we cannot make a valid contribution in areas such as business and industry. I am poor, but happy. I have a lot to live for.

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Comment from: Lorilor, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: February 02

I was diagnosed with schizophrenia one year ago. I swore my friends were hidden in a room in my boyfriend's house where I live. I knew in my head they were all out to get me and so was my boyfriend. He had no clue I was sick and thought I was messing with him. It was a terrible time for me, so I started drinking and doing a lot of drugs. This made it worse. I moved into a motel and heard these people in the next room; they had followed me. I spent 12 days yelling at the walls. If I would leave the motel they would follow me. Sometime after I moved back with my boyfriend. The voices got worse now my mother was the voice and my best friend of 30 years. Eventually I was hospitalized court ordered so I couldn't leave. Today one year later I am finally voice free. I take Zyprexa every day. I only hope that people don't have to go through what I did. I was anorexic because I never slept nor ate. I am 95 percent better with medicines and a psychiatrist. Thanks for listening.

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