Schizophrenia, General Type

Schizophrenia is a chronic, often disabling mental health disorder that makes functioning in work and society difficult. It is a type of psychosis that involves perceiving reality differently from those around you. The difference been reality and what you think become blurred in your mind.

The cause of schizophrenia is not yet known. It is believed to be a result of genetic and biological factors (brain chemistry and structure). Schizophrenia does run in families and occurs in about 1% of the adult population. Environmental factors may also have a role in schizophrenia. These may include where you grew up, toxins, and infections.

Symptoms include:

  • Seeing or hearing things that are not there (hallucinations)

  • False beliefs (delusions)

  • Disorganized thinking and speech

  • Severe anxiety

  • Feeling unreal

  • Paranoia

  • Insomnia

  • Trouble thinking or concentrating clearly

  • Depression, feeling suicidal

  • Withdrawal from those around you (social withdrawal)

Medicines and therapy can help with many of the symptoms and allow for better daily function and quality of life. These medicines take 2 to 4 weeks to start working and 6 to 8 weeks to take full effect.

It is common to feel that you are not ill and that you don't need treatment. It is important to accept the support of friends and family in continuing to take your medicine.

Home care

  • Ongoing care and support helps manage this disease. Find a healthcare provider and therapist who meet your needs. Seek help when you feel like your symptoms are getting worse.

  • Tell each of your healthcare providers about all of the prescription medicines, over-the-counter medicines, and supplements you take. Certain supplements interact with medicines and can cause dangerous side effects. Ask your pharmacist when you have questions about medicine interactions.

  • Be sure to take all of your medicine as directed and get regular blood work to check your medicine level and your overall health. Take the medicines and get the follow-up lab work as prescribed, even if you think you don’t need it.

  • Seek support from trusted friends or family by talking about your feelings and thoughts. Ask them to help you recognize behavior changes early so you can get help. If needed, your healthcare provider can adjust your medicines.

  • If you are having trouble managing workplace issues, or caring for yourself because of your schizophrenia, contact your local Americans with Disabilities (ADA) office to see if they can help. The U.S. Department of Justice operates a toll-free ADA information line at: 800-514-0301 (voice) or 800-514-0383 (TTY). They can help you locate a local office.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your doctor or therapist, or as advised.

Call 911

Call 911 if you:

  • Have suicidal thoughts, a suicide plan, and the means to carry out the plan

  • Have trouble breathing

  • Are very confused

  • Are very drowsy or have trouble awakening

  • Feel faint or lose consciousness

  • Have rapid heart rate, very low heart rate, or a new irregular heart rate

  • Have a seizure

When to seek medical advice

Call your healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:

  • Your symptoms are getting worse

  • Family or friends express concern over your behavior and ask you to seek help

  • Feeling out of control or that you are being controlled by others

  • Feeling like you want to harm yourself or another

  • Unable to care for yourself

  • Worsening hallucinations

  • Worsening delusions or paranoia

  • Hearing voices that are telling you to harm yourself or others

  • Worsening depression or anxiety

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