Schizophrenia is the most persistent and disabling of the major mental illnesses, often attacking people aged between 16 and 30.

Common symptoms of schizophrenia include delusions, hallucinations, illusions and thought disturbances. Movement disorders may appear as agitated body movements including repetitive movement or, in the other extreme, catatonia.

While the causes of schizophrenia are not yet well understood, experts agree that it is most likely caused by a combination of several factors including genetic predisposition, environmental conditions and differences in brain chemistry and structure.

Because the causes of schizophrenia are still unknown, treatments focus on eliminating the symptoms of the disease. Treatments include antipsychotic medications and various psychosocial treatments.

With early treatment and good medical care, the symptoms of schizophrenia can be reduced or even eliminated. Many people suffering from schizophrenia still lead regular lives, have jobs and maintain healthy relationships.

Support from family and friends is critical in the management of schizophrenia. Patients benefit enormously when their families, friends and colleagues understand the illness and are suitably educated about ways to provide help and support when needed.

(Source: National Institute of Mental Health, http://www.nimh.nih.gov.)

Voices are the most common type of hallucination in schizophrenia. Many people with the disorder hear voices, either talking to the person or to each other. Other types of hallucinations include seeing people or objects that are not there, smelling imaginary odors, and experiencing sensations like invisible fingers touching their bodies when no one is near.
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