Schizophrenia is the most misunderstood of all mental illnesses. The public’s false perception of the disorder makes life hard for people already suffering from the illness. Increasing awareness of the medical facts helps people living with schizophrenia, their friends and families, and society at large. Schizophrenia has nothing to do with a “split personality.”
It’s a brain disorder known as a psychotic illness. It affects the central nervous system and leads to distorted perceptions of reality, hallucinations, and heightened emotional states. A knock-on effect is difficulty functioning and maintaining relationships at work and home. There is no cure for schizophrenia, but several effective therapies can help relieve and control symptoms.
A person with schizophrenia, if left untreated, will experience bouts of altered perceptions, disordered thoughts, paranoia, and hallucinations which can frighten the sufferer and others. This a “psychotic episode.” Such episodes can range from mild to severe. The number and duration of psychotic episodes someone with schizophrenia experiences varies with each individual.
Between episodes, or with treatment, most schizophrenics live normal and satisfying lives. Others may experience a gradual worsening of episodes. Episodes may occur in cycles known as “relapse and remission cycles.”