What you should know
Individuals with schizophrenia often begin to hear, see, or feel things that aren’t really there (hallucinations) or become convinced of things that simply aren’t true (delusions). In the paranoid form of this disorder, they develop delusions of persecution or personal grandeur. The first signs of paranoid schizophrenia usually surface between the ages of 15 and 34. There is no cure, but the disorder can be controlled with medications. Severe attacks may require hospitalization.
The causes of schizophrenia are still under debate. A chemical imbalance in the brain seems to play a role, but the reason for the imbalance remains unclear. We do know that you^re a bit more likely to become schizophrenic if you have a family member with the illness. Stress does not cause schizophrenia, but can make the symptoms worse.
Schizophrenia usually develops gradually, although onset can be sudden. Friends and family often notice the first changes before the victim does. Among the signs are:
- Inability to make decisions
- Changes in eating or sleeping habits, energy level, or weight
- Strange statements or behavior
- Withdrawal from friends, work, or school
- Neglect of personal hygiene
- Indifference to the opinions of others
- A tendency to argue
- A conviction that you are better than others, or that people are out to get you
The use of medication along with counseling and group therapy help recovering patients to understand the disease and to function effectively.