Acute Schizophrenia

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Acute schizophrenia is what most people think of when they think of schizophrenia: varying degrees of psychosis with a sudden onset of personality disorganization and mostly positive symptoms of the illness (hallucinations, delusions, and thought disorder).

Acute schizophrenia generally begins rather suddenly in an otherwise healthy person, often in response to a significantly stressful life event, and commonly recurs in short episodes after the initial onset. Acute schizophrenia can be distinguished from a more chronic disease course, although some people with acute schizophrenia do go on to develop the more chronic type. The chronic form of the disease, also known as process schizophrenia, is characterized by long periods of symptom development, gradual deterioration and negative symptoms, such as flat affect, lack of volition, alogia, and anhedonia. Unlike acute schizophrenia, chronic schizophrenia does not appear to be related to life stressors.

Acute schizophrenia tends to respond better to treatment than chronic schizophrenia. One reason for this is that those who develop acute schizophrenia often have a history of being high-functioning before the onset of the illness, with few or no schizoid symptoms. Another reason is that positive symptoms of schizophrenia, the predominant symptoms of the acute type of the illness, simply respond better to available medications.

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