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What is the first thing you think of when you hear the word "schizophrenia"? If you are like most people, you are thinking of auditory hallucinations ("hearing voices") right now. While those are indeed common, there's much more to schizophrenia than that. Being familiar with the full spectrum of symptoms should help you recognize possible schizophrenia in loved-ones or people you know. It may even enable you to encourage someone to access treatment early on.
What Is Schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia is a chronic brain disorder that affects the lives of sufferers very significantly. Though the first symptoms tend to appear in adolescence or early adulthood, schizophrenia can and does strike people of any age. Symptoms tend to be more severe if they appeared earlier on in life.
With the help of a multi-faceted treatment approach involving medication, therapy, and support from loved ones and medical professionals, it is possible for many people with schizophrenia to live fulfilling and independent lives. Schizophrenia can be managed most effectively if it is detected early on, and treatment is started right away.
Schizophrenia: The Basic Symptoms
Schizophrenia alters the way in which a sufferer perceives the world around themselves. They can often, as most people know, hear and see things that are not there. This can lead them to be very weary of those around them, and they can appear to be paranoid: people with schizophrenia often believe others are conspiring against them and are constantly following or otherwise watching them. This altered perception of reality can lead schizophrenics to talk and act in ways that are confusing and frightening for others. They may become aggressive in response to things they think are happening, or they may isolate themselves from others.
Though some people go into full-blown schizophrenia right away, most actually show worrying red flags that loved-ones can easily see, but have trouble putting their finger on. Recognizing these warning signs may enable schizophrenics to access treatment earlier on.
You may also notice that your loved-one uses disjointed speech, makes rather strange statements, cries and laughs at weird times, and is not able to express emotions rationally any more. People with schizophrenia may underperform at work or school, lose interest in activities that were previously important to them, and develop unusual sleeping patterns. They may become forgetful and unable to concentrate on anything, and may have a strange, flat facial expression.
If you're constantly around someone during this build-up phase, you may wonder what's going on with your loved one. You may think they're depressed or suspect something else is going on. These behaviors can indeed point to many mental issues besides schizophrenia. They are always worrying signs that indicate the person benefits from professional help, however.