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Schizophrenia

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Schizophrenia is a disease that changes your ability to think clearly, manage emotions, and interact with other people.

We know it can be frightening if you or a loved one has symptoms of schizophrenia.

Signs and symptoms

Early signs of schizophrenia include:

  • doing worse in school or at work
  • thinking that people are out to get you
  • having changes in your thoughts or feelings or attitudes, such as not wanting to see other people

These early signs don't necessarily mean you have schizophrenia. Many of the symptoms can be caused by other things, such as other medical problems, stress, grief, medicine side effects, or lack of sleep.

Symptoms of schizophrenia may also include:

  • hallucinations
  • delusions
  • paranoia
  • inability to enjoy life, express emotions, or function
  • hearing voices
  • behaving strangely,
  • trouble speaking or understanding speech
  • avoiding contact with others

Treatment

The goal of treatment is to lower your stress and help your brain function normally.

You may need lifelong treatment. However, many people with schizophrenia can lead rewarding and meaningful lives.

Researchers are developing more effective medications and using new research tools to understand the causes of schizophrenia. In the years to come, this work may help prevent and better treat the illness.

When to get help

If schizophrenia-like symptoms last longer than 1 week, or if they interfere with your life, make an appointment to talk with a doctor about your concerns. If you have schizophrenia or another problem, early diagnosis and treatment may make treatment more successful.

Learn more about schizophrenia.

Reviewed by: Andrew Bertagnolli, PhD and Craig Robbins, MD, July 2013
Additional Kaiser Permanente reviewers

© 2013 Kaiser Permanente