Schizophrenia is a disease of the brain characterized by disturbed thinking, strange behavior and inappropriate emotional expression. It is the most disabling of all the mental illnesses.

People who suffer from untreated schizophrenia have increasing difficulty with work, home, school and social functioning. This illness affects people of all ages, races and economic levels. The affected individual withdraws and isolates himself or herself in an attempt to cope with the symptoms that are very frightening and confusing. Family and friends also are alarmed about the unexplained changes in behavior and are uncertain how to help.

Schizophrenia usually begins between the late teens and mid-30s. Incidents prior to the teen years are rare. The disease waxes and wanes in some persons who remain relatively stable. Other less fortunate individuals experience an increased worsening of symptoms, which can lead to severe disability.

Signs of schizophrenia can include:

  • A decline of work, school, home or social functioning
  • Apathy and increased social withdrawal
  • Decreased attention to personal hygiene
  • Disorganized speech and/or behavior
  • Absence of emotional expression
  • Delusions or false beliefs
  • Hallucinations, frequently in the form of hearing voices

If you or someone you know appears to suffer from schizophrenia, call for help.