Schizophrenia is a complex disease; however, it is not a multiple personality disorder, but rather a state when the patient experiences difficulties in the cognitive processes.
This often leads to unusual thinking, speech or behavior caused by psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions and disturbed thought process.
It may happen that patients hear, see, smell or feel things that cannot be sensed by others (hallucinations), e.g. they are hearing voices (which is one of the most common hallucinations). A person with a delusion will hold firmly to the belief that the unreal thing exists regardless of evidence to the contrary, e.g. others can read their minds or control their thoughts or try to harm them. As their world may become distorted as a result of the hallucinations and delusions they experience, schizophrenia patients are often frightened, anxious and confused. The patient can “fall apart” to such an extent that they may become frightened by themselves and may frighten people around them.
Our thinking of schizophrenia used to be quite polarized by splitting the affected persons in two groups: patients “being sick” and patients “being well”. The very notion of “being well”, however, has recently changed to include a wide range of conditions from acute disease to various levels of functioning and “well-being”. This also means that schizophrenia patients may experience improvement in their condition since patients can learn how to cope with the disease, and can develop and/or regain the daily level of functioning that is appropriate for them. Many factors can help this process, and the benefit of each factor varies individually.
Treatment generally consists of a combination of medication and psychotherapy Drug therapy is needed to reduce the symptoms of schizophrenia. Psychotherapy may help schizophrenia patients to understand their disease and cope with it, which improves social functioning and reintegration in the society.
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