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What Is Schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a serious brain disorder that distorts the way a person thinks, acts, expresses emotions, perceives reality, and relates to others. People with schizophrenia -- the most chronic and disabling of the major mental illnesses -- often have problems functioning in society, at work and at school, and in relationships. Schizophrenia can leave its sufferer frightened and withdrawn. It is a lifelong disease that cannot be cured but usually can be controlled with proper treatment.

Contrary to popular belief, a person with schizophrenia does not a split personality. Schizophrenia is a psychosis, a type of mental illness in which a person cannot tell what is real from what is imagined. At times, people with psychotic disorders lose touch with reality. The world may seem like a jumble of confusing ideas, images, and sounds. The behavior of people with schizophrenia may be very strange and even shocking. A sudden change in personality and behavior, which occurs when people lose touch with reality, is called a psychotic episode.

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Working With Schizophrenia

You may think holding down a job is too much for someone with schizophrenia. But with treatment, many people can -- and should -- stay in the game. "People feel better about themselves if they're doing something productive," says Steven Jewell, MD, associate professor of psychiatry at Northeast Ohio Medical University. "It's critical to recovery to move forward with your life, whether it's at school or at work." Jewell advocates a team approach to providing patients the treatment, skills, and support...

Read the Working With Schizophrenia article > >

Schizophrenia varies in severity from person to person. Some people have only one psychotic episode that fully resolves, which isn't considered true schizophrenia, while others have many episodes during a lifetime but lead relatively normal lives between episodes. Schizophrenia symptoms can worsen and improve in cycles known as relapses and remissions.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Joseph Goldberg, MD on February 13, 2014

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