Schizophrenia is thought to be caused by a disorder in brain chemistry. It is a mental disorder that predominantly affects the thought processes of the brain. It can be hereditary, as there appears to be a greater than average risk of developing the illness if a parent suffers from it.
It is a complicated illness that, in its mildest form may simply give rise to eccentric behavior, poor socializing skills and personality traits suggesting shyness. In its severest form, the sufferer may become delusional, believing they can hear 'voices' telling them to do bizarre things. Also believing certain everyday objects such as the television or a piece of office equipment, is relaying messages from another world, controlling their actions and forcing them to carry out certain rituals.
Paranoia is a common symptom, the sufferer believes the world is against them and only their 'voices' are on their side. The sufferers often isolate themselves, with depression, anxiety and self neglect becoming a problem, harder to overcome the more out of touch with reality the patient becomes.
Early diagnosis is sometimes difficult as some familial personality traits can disguise mild forms of this disorder. In a high number of cases there may be only one episode of disturbed behavior, with them reverting back to normal. However around 10% will remain disturbed despite treatment and may require hospitalization or even institutionalization in order to protect them and the general public from the possible consequences of their irrational behavior.
Treatment is by long-term drug therapy and in severely affected patients it may be necessary to monitor their regular taking of these drugs as relapses can frequently occur if the drug therapy is allowed to relapse.
This disorder can present enormous strain within the family or partnership that the sufferer belongs. There are organizations set up to help support these families and to offer practical advice. For further details contact Schizophrenia -A National Emergency or S.A.N.E help line 0345 678000 between 2 pm and midnight in the United Kingdom.
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