HIGHLIGHTS

Open
Grocery Coupons

Grocery Coupons

Members can print free savings coupons

Brain Health Center

Brain Health Center

Learn how to live smart and stay sharp

Amazon Kindle

Amazon Kindle

Members save on e-
readers and tablets

Caring for loved ones?

Caring for loved ones?

Find the resources you need

HEALTH ENCYCLOPEDIA

Diseases & Conditions A - Z
powered by healthline

Schizophrenia Overview

Schizophrenia is the common term for a group of serious psychiatric conditions called the schizophrenic disorders. Although they strike only about one percent of the population, these disorders are so disabling they are considered among the most important of psychiatric illnesses.

Schizophrenic disorders are generally characterized by hallucinations and delusions. Experts have struggled to agree on precise definitions and terms for the various disorders, but most concur that the schizophrenic disorders may be broadly assigned to one of two categories—good prognosis and poor prognosis. Good prognosis cases are believed to be somewhat more common than poor prognosis cases.

Good prognosis (expected outcome) forms of the disease are as follows:

  • schizophreniform
  • acute schizophrenia
  • reactive schizophrenia
  • schizoaffective disorder
  • remitting schizophrenia

Conditions with poor prognosis are as follows:

  • schizophrenia
  • chronic schizophrenia
  • process schizophrenia
  • nuclear schizophrenia
  • nonremitting schizophrenia

Common Symptoms

Most forms of schizophrenia are marked by at least intermittent episodes of hallucinations and delusions, despite the absence of any gross physical defects in the relevant sensory apparatus. Auditory hallucinations (hearing voices, for example) tend to be the most common, although visual hallucinations are also common. Less frequently, patients suffer olfactory hallucinations (usually consisting of unpleasant smells) and even imaginary tactile sensations (insects crawling on or under the skin is a classic example).

Mood changes and other affective symptoms—such as inability to sleep, weight loss, loss of appetite (anorexia), suicidal thoughts and depression—may also appear during the course of the illness. 

Other symptoms may include odd or inappropriate or bizarre behavior, an inability to make logical associations among ideas, and episodes of paranoia. Physical behavior may devolve into a dysfunctional state known as catatonia. Although this is often portrayed in the media as a sort of waking coma, catatonia may involve episodes of great excitement or profound confusion and usually entails muscle rigidity and apparent stupor.

Who’s at Risk?

Men are more likely to be stricken at an earlier age—often in early adulthood—than women, and male patients’ prognoses tend to be worse. It is apparent that there is a genetic component in some cases, amounting to a greater predisposition among some individuals from families with a history of the disorder. But it is still unknown who will succumb to the disease or precisely what might trigger it.

Treatment Options

Treatments have included electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), sometimes called “shock treatment,” and, beginning in the mid-20th century, tranquilizing antipsychotic medications, such as the phenothiazines (e.g. Thorazine) and more recently, a new generation of medications (known as atypical antipsychotics; e.g. Geodon, Zyprexa), which tend to have fewer side effects than older medications.


Content licensed from:

Written by: Dale Kiefer
Published on: Aug 16, 2011
Medically reviewed : Jennifer Monti, MD, MPH

This feature is for informational purposes only and should not be used to replace the care and information received from your health care provider. Please consult a health care professional with any health concerns you may have.
health
TOOLS
Symptom Search
Enter your symptoms in our Symptom Checker to find out possible causes of your symptoms. Go.
Drug Interaction Checker
Enter any list of prescription drugs and see how they interact with each other and with other substances. Go.
Pill Identifier
Enter its color and shape information, and this tool helps you identify it. Go.
Drugs A-Z
Find information on drug interactions, side effects, and more. Go.

 

 

Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Tanger Outlets

Members can get a free Tanger Coupon Book with discount offers from top brand names.

Woman trying on glasses in optometrists shop

Members save 25% on orders of $200 or more and get 25% off lens upgrades at Glasses.com.

Outback Steak

Members save 15% on lunch every day & on dinner Mon-Thurs at Outback Steakhouse.

Member Benefits

Join or renew today! AARP members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.

AARP FIGHTS FOR YOU
ADVOCACY & PROGRAMS

African American, Asian Community Page

AARP In Your Corner

Visit Black Community, Español  and Asian Community pages.

AARP Drivers Safety logo

Driver Safety Program

Register at a location near you to keep your driving skills sharp. 

Create the Good

Create The Good 

Find opportunities to volunteer in your neighborhood. 

AARP Drive to End Hunger Logo

Drive to End Hunger

NASCAR champ Jeff Gordon teams up with AARP Foundation. 

 

Green Dot Prepaid Card

Prepaid MasterCard

AARP Foundation Prepaid MasterCard brought to you by Green Dot.

Most Popular

Viewed

Nothing has been viewed