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Schizophrenia is often a chronic and debilitating mental illness. The

disease can cause you to withdraw from the people and activities in the

world around you and retreat into a world of delusions. Schizophrenia

is a debilitating kind of psychosis, which is an impairment of thinking

in which your interpretation of reality can be severely abnormal.

Psychosis is a symptom of a disordered brain.

Schizophrenia affects approximately 1 percent of the population

worldwide, including more than 2 million Americans. It occurs equally

in men and women. The disorder is rare in children. There's often no

cure for the illness, but working closely with your doctor and other

mental health professionals, you can often successfully manage

schizophrenia -- especially when an early diagnosis occurs.

Fortunately, newer medications are making this poorly understood

disorder more manageable than ever before.

Signs of schizophrenia include:

Two or more of the following for at least 1 week: delusions, prominent

hallucinations for much of the day, incoherence, lack of emotions or

inappropriate display of emotions, bizarre delusions

Trouble functioning at work, in social interactions and with personal


Continuous and progressive signs for at least 6 months.

Generally, schizophrenia causes a slowly progressive deterioration in

your ability to function in various roles, especially in your job and

personal life. The symptoms of schizophrenia vary greatly. You may

behave differently at different times. You may become extremely

agitated and distressed. Or you may fall into a catatonic (trancelike,

immobile, unresponsive) state. You may behave normally much of the

time. In general, schizophrenia has "negative" signs and "positive" signs.

Negative signs:

Negative signs may appear early in the disease, and you or others may

not think they need treatment. Negative signs generally accompany a

slow deterioration of function, leading to your becoming less sociable.

Such signs may include...