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What is schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a serious psychiatric condition that has a major impact on a person’s thinking, behavior, emotions, relationships, and self-care.

People with schizophrenia often develop beliefs or behaviors that most people would consider very odd or eccentric.

Schizophrenia usually begins in late adolescence or early adulthood, during which time odd behaviors or beliefs develop or become more noticeable to others.

Common symptoms of schizophrenia include:

  • Delusions: implausible beliefs that a person holds with great conviction (e.g., believing that aliens are inserting thoughts into your head against your will)
  • Hallucinations: having sensory experiences (seeing, hearing, smelling, feeling or tasting something) when there is nothing there (e.g., hearing voices when there is no one talking)
  • Disorganized Speech: talking in an incoherent fashion that is difficult or impossible to understand and/or does not make sense
  • Disorganized Behavior: unusual behaviors that can be erratic, bizarre, or inappropriate (e.g., talking to oneself or dressing in a highly unusual manner without having a purpose for doing so)
  • Flat Affect: a condition in which a person seems to have little emotion, displaying facial expressions or a vocal tone that rarely changes
  • Poverty of Speech: a condition in which a person seems to have little capacity to speak with others or spontaneously add to a conversation
  • Low Motivation: having little or no motivation to pursue any goals or activities (sometimes leading to poor personal hygiene as the person lacks the motivation to bathe or change clothes)

Schizophrenia can look very different in different people, as individuals have different combinations of the above symptoms.

People with schizophrenia have a highly noticeable deterioration in their ability to function academically and socially.

Contrary to common media portrayals, people with schizophrenia are very rarely dangerous or violent.

Schizophreniform disorder is a psychiatric condition that has the same symptoms as schizophrenia, but the symptoms are less severe or long-lasting.

Want to learn more about schizophrenia?

Here are some resources:

Are you concerned that you may have schizophrenia?

See our resource database for a list of books, websites, and local options for seeking professional evaluations and treatment.

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