Schizophrenia is a mental illness that seriously impacts daily life for millions of Americans with the disorder as well as the loved ones who care for them.
When you have schizophrenia, you may see, feel, or hear things that aren’t really there and experience disorganized language, thinking, and behavior. For some people, only certain aspects of their thinking and behavior may be affected while other mental aspects function normally.
Symptoms of schizophrenia show up over time and overall functioning can decrease gradually up to the first episode. The most common symptoms of schizophrenia include:
Delusions - False beliefs that are firmly held despite contrary evidence
Hallucinations - Hearing, seeing, or feeling something that isn’t there; hearing voices is the most common form
Disorganized speech - Trouble concentrating and maintaining a train of thought; may shift rapidly from one topic to the another, use made-up words, or get stuck repeating a word or phrase in a nonsensical rhyming pattern
Disorderly behavior - Decline in overall daily functioning, such as neglecting personal hygiene/grooming, dressing oddly; and unpredictable, inappropriate, or bizarre behaviors
Individuals with schizophrenia may also show little emotional expression (flat voice, lack of eye contact, blank facial expression). They can give up on seeking achievements or seem to be completely unaware of your surroundings. Most cases of schizophrenia appear in the late teens or early adulthood. The average age of onset is 25 for mean and 30 for women. However, some people are diagnosed in childhood or after 40. The condition occurs slightly more often in men than in women.
While having schizophrenia can be serious, it's also possible to lead a healthy and happy life. With proper treatment and support, one can effectively manage schizophrenia, prevent secondary illnesses, and engage with the things in life that bring joy. Dr. Walston helps patients with schizophrenia take care of themselves through therapy and medication.