Schizophrenia Schizophrenia is a group of psychotic disorders characterized by disturbances in thought, perception, affect, behavior, and communication that last longer than 6 months. There are 5 recognized types of schizophrenia: catatonic, paranoid, disorganized, undifferentiated, and residual. Schizophrenia is thought to affect about 1% of the population. The symptoms of schizophrenia are present during the active phase. Delusions, hallucinations, catatonic behavior, and incoherence are some of the basic symptoms. No single characteristic is present in all types of schizophrenia.
The cause of schizophrenia is unknown. There are various theories to explain the development of this disorder. Genetic factors may play a role; relatives of a person with schizophrenia are more likely to develop the disorder. Psychological and social factors may also play a role in development. Childhood-onset schizophrenia begins after 5 years of age, adult onset occurs before the age of 45.
In children it can be difficult to differentiate from autism. The diagnosis of this disorder is difficult and controversial. Response to therapy, genetic and family history, and CT scan of the head, may aid in the diagnosis but will not confirm the existence of the disorder. Hospitalization is often required to prevent self-inflicted harm or harm to others. Antipsychotic or neuroleptic medications are used to control the symptoms of the illness. This group of drugs includes the phenothiazines, thioxanthenes, butyrophenones, dihydroindolones, and dibenzoxazepines. Drug treatment is continuous, because relapse of symptoms is common when medication is stopped.
Psychotherapy may be helpful in some situations. There is no known prevention of schizophrenia.