Schizophrenia (brain disorder)
What is schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia is a chronic, severe, and disabling brain disorder. It
affects about 1 percent of people all over the world (including 3.2
million Americans) and has been recognized throughout recorded history.
People with schizophrenia may hear voices other people don’t hear or
believe that others are reading their minds, controlling their thoughts,
or plotting to harm them. These experiences are terrifying and can
cause fearfulness, withdrawal, or extreme agitation. People with
schizophrenia may not make sense when they talk, may sit for hours
without moving or talking much, or can seem perfectly fine until they
talk about what they are really thinking. Since many people with
schizophrenia have difficulty holding a job or caring for themselves,
the burden on their families and society is significant as well.
Available treatments can relieve many of the disorder’s symptoms, but
most people who have schizophrenia must cope with some residual
symptoms as long as they live. Nevertheless, this is a time of hope for
people with schizophrenia and their families. Many people with the
disorder now lead rewarding and meaningful lives in the community.
Researchers are developing more effective medications and using new
research tools to understand the causes of schizophrenia and find ways
to prevent and treat it.