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What is schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia is a chronic and severe mental disorder that affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves. People with schizophrenia may seem like they have lost touch with reality. Although schizophrenia is not as common as other mental disorders, the symptoms can be very disabling.

Signs and Symptoms
Symptoms of schizophrenia usually start between ages 16 and 30. In rare cases, children have schizophrenia too. The symptoms of schizophrenia fall into three categories: positive, negative, and cognitive.

Positive symptoms: “Positive” symptoms are psychotic behaviors not generally seen in healthy people. People with positive symptoms may “lose touch” with some aspects of reality. Symptoms include:
– Hallucinations
– Delusions
– Thought disorders (unusual or dysfunctional ways of thinking)
– Movement disorders (agitated body movements)

Negative symptoms: “Negative” symptoms are associated with disruptions to normal emotions and behaviors. Symptoms include:
– “Flat affect” (reduced expression of emotions via facial expression or voice tone)
– Reduced feelings of pleasure in everyday life
– Difficulty beginning and sustaining activities
– Reduced speaking

Cognitive symptoms: For some patients, the cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia are subtle, but for others, they are more severe and patients may notice changes in their memory or other aspects of thinking. Symptoms include:
– Poor “executive functioning” (the ability to understand information and use it to make decisions)
– Trouble focusing or paying attention
– Problems with “working memory” (the ability to use information immediately after learning it)

Risk Factors
There are several factors that contribute to the risk of developing schizophrenia. Genes and environment: Scientists have long known that schizophrenia sometimes runs in families. However, there are many people who have schizophrenia who don’t have a family member with the disorder and conversely, many people with one or more family members with the disorder who do not develop it themselves. Scientists believe that many different genes may increase the risk of schizophrenia, but that no single gene causes the disorder by itself. It is not yet possible to use genetic information to predict who will develop schizophrenia. Scientists also think that interactions between genes and aspects of the individual’s environment are necessary for schizophrenia to develop. Environmental factors may involve:
– Exposure to viruses
– Malnutrition before birth
– Problems during birth
– Psychosocial factors

Different brain chemistry and structure: Scientists think that an imbalance in the complex, interrelated chemical reactions of the brain involving the neurotransmitters (substances that brain cells use to communicate with each other) dopamine and glutamate, and possibly others, plays a role in schizophrenia. Some experts also think problems during brain development before birth may lead to faulty connections. The brain also undergoes major changes during puberty, and these changes could trigger psychotic symptoms in people who are vulnerable due to genetics or brain differences.

Treatments and Therapies
Because the causes of schizophrenia are still unknown, treatments focus on eliminating the symptoms of the disease. Treatments include:
Psychosocial Treatments
Coordinated specialty care (CSC)

Accept your diagnosis.
 As upsetting as a diagnosis of schizophrenia can be, resolving to take a proactive role in treatment and self-help is crucial to your recovery. That means making healthy lifestyle changes, taking prescribed medications, and attending medical and therapy appointments.
Don’t buy into the stigma of schizophrenia. Many fears about schizophrenia are not based on reality. Take your illness seriously but don’t buy into the myth that you can’t improve. Associate with people who see beyond your diagnosis, to the person you really are.
Communicate with your doctor. Help your doctor ensure you’re getting the right type and dose of medication. Be honest and upfront about side effects, concerns, and other treatment issues.
Pursue self-help and therapy that helps you manage symptoms. Don’t rely on medication alone. Self-help strategies can help you to manage symptoms and regain a sense of control over your health and well-being. Supportive therapy can teach you how to challenge delusional beliefs, ignore voices in your head, protect against relapse, and motivate yourself to persevere with treatment and self-help.
Set and work toward life goals.  Having schizophrenia doesn’t mean you can’t work, have relationships, or experience a fulfilling life. Set meaningful life goals for yourself beyond your illness.

Advice for others during a crisis situation 
– Remember that you cannot reason with acute psychosis.
– The person may be terrified by their own feelings of loss of control.
– Don’t express irritation or anger.
– Speak quietly and calmly, do not shout or threaten the person.
– Don’t use sarcasm as a weapon.
– Decrease distractions by turning off the TV, computer, any fluorescent lights that hum, etc.
– Ask any casual visitors to leave—the fewer people the better.
– Avoid direct, continuous eye contact.
– Avoid touching the person.
– Sit down and ask the person to sit down as well.

    If you would like to be consulted by psychologist, contact the psychologist immediately for helps

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