How to Recognize Schizophrenia

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Schizophrenia affects about 1 percent of the population, and sometimes it can be difficult to spot until the disease has progressed to an acute state.

Symptoms usually begin to appear between the late teens and early thirties, and the condition is seen more in men than women. If you're unsure whether or not someone in your life might be suffering from schizophrenia, it's best to consult a mental health professional who can make an accurate diagnosis.

Disordered thinking or speech

A vague but often sure sign of schizophrenia is disordered thoughts or speech patterns. A person may seem to make little sense as they float from one idea to the next, often talking about obscure things or topics that don't seem related. Look out for scattered thoughts, frantic speech or the inability to follow a conversation normally.

Delusions

Delusions are also a telltale symptom of schizophrenia. A delusion, by definition, is believing something to be true that isn't. Schizophrenic delusions are often odd or outlandish in nature. For example, believing that the neighbors are plotting to kill you or that the police are tapping your phone could be indicators that delusional behavior is present.

Hallucinations

Schizophrenics also tend to suffer from hallucinations, where they see people or things that aren't there. Look for signs that the person is talking to someone or something imaginary or try to verify that friends or acquaintances this person speaks of actually exist.

Changes in eating or sleeping habits

Schizophrenia can often bring out drastic changes in sleeping and eating patters, as the patient often suffers from mania-like symptoms that can keep him up all night. The person may also believe that he doesn't need to eat, or his eating patterns might become sporadic. Along the same lines, watch out for changes in self-care, such as neglect of basic grooming habits like showering or putting on clean clothes.

Source: NIMH

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