Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that is usually characterized by withdrawal from reality, illogical thinking patterns, hallucinations and delusions. A person who suffers from this illness may claim to see or hear things that are not present or have a distortion of reality. The causes of schizophrenia are believed to be caused by a chemical imbalance of dopmine in the brain. Environment, genetics, psychosocial, and biological factors are all considered to be contributing factors in the development of schizophrenia.

The onset of symptoms usually occur in young adulthood. The median age for psychotic symptoms usually begin in the mid 20′s for men and the late 20′s for women. Schizophrenia can also begin later in life. Cases of late-onset tend to be somewhat similar to early-onset schizophrenia. In these cases are affected in a greater number and are more likely to have been married. Unfortunately genetics seem to play a major role in the likelyhood of developing this illness.

First-degree biological relatives of a individual suffering from schizophrenia are at a risk 10 times greater than members of the general population. Schizophrenia is treated with antipsychotic medication which is the first line of defense. This treatment of antipsychotic medication suppresses dopamine, which is a neurotransmitter in the brain. In other cases serotonin, also a neurotransmiter in the brain is also affected. Antipsychotics reduce positive symptoms of psychosis in 1-2 weeks.

Individuals who suffer from schizophrenia may need to be hospitalized if they are a harm to themselves or others. Schizophrenia affects cognition but often behavioral and emotional issues will be present. Individuals who suffer from schizophrenia deal with social problems such as unemployment and homelessness. Schizophrenia results in a life-expectancy that is 12-15 years shorter than the general population. This is mainly because of lifestyle issues. There is also a higher rate of suicide among individuals with schizophrenia.

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