Schizophrenia : What is Schizophrenia? FAQs
Reviewed by John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
- Schizophrenia is the most disabling mental illness. True or False?
- There are 50 million people with schizophrenia in America. True or False?
- Schizophrenia is often called “split personality disorder.”
- Psychosis means that a person cannot distinguish imagination from reality.
- What is the most common hallucination in schizophrenia?
- What are the first symptoms of schizophrenia?
- Who has more severe symptoms at the onset of schizophrenia: Men or Women?
- Many schizophrenics believe that what habit eases their symptoms?
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Q:Schizophrenia is the most disabling mental illness. True or False?
Schizophrenia is an incurable, severe, and lifelong disease that is the most disabling of all mental illnesses. Treatments for schizophrenia focus on controlling the symptoms.
Q:There are 50 million people with schizophrenia in America. True or False?
About 1% of Americans have this illness, which translates to about 2 million people.
Q:Schizophrenia is often called “split personality disorder.”
Schizophrenia is sometimes confused with other mental illnesses and may be mistakenly referred to as “split personality disorder.” While “schizo” does mean “split,” patients with schizophrenia do not have split personalities. They do have psychosis, which is a distorted perception of reality.
Q:Psychosis means that a person cannot distinguish imagination from reality.
Psychosis is a distortion of perceptions that makes it hard to tell what is real and what isn't. It is a characteristic of schizophrenia, but it can also be seen in other mental illnesses such as schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder, or depression.
Q:What is the most common hallucination in schizophrenia?
A:Auditory hallucinations, or “hearing voices” is the most common hallucination in schizophrenia.
Voices can seem to be coming from within one's own mind, or externally and seem as if a person is talking to them. These voices may tell the person with schizophrenia to do things or comment on their behavior. The voices may even talk with one another. It is common for people with schizophrenia to hear voices for a long time before anyone else notices the problem. Other kinds of hallucinations experienced by people with schizophrenia include seeing people or objects that are not there, feeling as if they are being touched by invisible fingers, or smelling odors no one else can smell.
Q:What are the first symptoms of schizophrenia?
A:There are numerous early symptoms of schizophrenia.
In some cases, family and friends may notice a shift in behavior or sense something is “off” about the person who is schizophrenic. Early signs and symptoms of schizophrenia may include irrational statements, excessive crying or inability to cry, outbursts of anger, social withdrawal, and extreme reactions.
Q:Who has more severe symptoms at the onset of schizophrenia: Men or Women?
Schizophrenia affects men and women at equal rates and symptoms may start suddenly or occur gradually. Men tend to develop schizophrenia slightly earlier, between 16 and 25 years old, while women develop symptoms several years later, in the late 20s to 30s. Schizophrenia symptoms tend to be more severe in men, while women with schizophrenia may have more depressive symptoms and paranoia.
Q:Many schizophrenics believe that what habit eases their symptoms?
Many schizophrenics believe smoking cigarettes eases their symptoms, and up to three times more schizophrenics smoke than in the general population. It is thought that smoking may be a kind of self-medication. The nicotine seems to help with some of the cognitive and sensory symptoms experienced by schizophrenics, and it can ease some of the side effects of medications commonly prescribed. However, smoking still causes cancer, lung disease, and heart disease.
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