Emily amount of emotional distress. There are several

   Emily Gison

Schizophrenia is a mental illness that makes it hard for a
person have clear thoughts and to distinguish between what is reality and what
is not. . It is a mental illness that affects about 1% of Americans. Although
schizophrenia can occur at any age, people usually start to show symptoms
between their teen years and thirty.. Schizophrenia
is characterized by delusions, hallucinations, and other mental difficulties. They
have difficulty distinguishing what is real from what is not. People who are
diagnosed struggle with this disease for the rest of their lives.

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   There are three categories of Schizophrenia:
 Positive, negative and cognitive.  “Positive” symptoms are psychotic behaviors not generally seen in healthy
people. People with positive symptoms experience hallucinations and have
delusional behavior.  They have unusual
ways of thinking and jerky body movements. 
People with “Negative” symptoms usually experience disruptions to normal
emotions and behaviors. They may be emotionless, lack pleasurable feelings and
have difficulty finishing what they start. 
A person who exhibits negative symptoms
often needs assistance with everyday activities, such as personal hygiene.
For some patients, they experience “cognitive” symptoms which may
include poor decision making ability, trouble focusing, and poor working memory.
A person may also have problems knowing how to use  received information.  Cognitive symptoms make it difficult for an
individual to lead a normal life without a large amount of emotional distress.

  There are several factors that contribute to
the risk of developing schizophrenia.

Schizophrenia
isn’t caused by just one gene, but is thought to be caused by a combination of
genetic and environmental factors. While schizophrenia occurs in 1% people,
having a family history of the disease greatly increases the risk.  Exposure to viruses or malnutrition before one
is born especially in the early months of pregnancy has been shown to increase
the risk of schizophrenia. Problems with certain brain chemicals may also contribute
to the disease.  The
brain is made up of nerve cells, called neurons, and chemicals, called
neurotransmitters. An imbalance of a specific neurotransmitter called dopamine
may cause schizophrenic symptoms..   Too much or too little of these hormones can
cause thinking to become disrupted or confused.

  Teens that experiment
with mind altering drugs at a young age have a higher risk of the disease also.
The younger and more frequent the use, the greater the risk of developing
schizophrenia.

   Currently
there is no simple lab test to make a diagnosis. Therefore, the diagnosis is
based on the symptoms – what the person says and what the doctor observes. Diagnosis of schizophrenia involves ruling out other
mental health disorders and determining that symptoms are not due to substance
abuse, medication or another medical condition. The diagnosis of schizophrenia usually takes a
long time  because the symptoms can go unrecognized,
or do not show themselves fully, until the illness is advanced. There are also
many differences among individuals in the way in which symptoms present
themselves.

Schizophrenia  is much more prevalent among homeless persons.
 There is not an exact count but it could
be as high as 20% of the homeless population suffer from schizophrenia.. Since paranoia is often one of the symptoms,  sufferers end up distrusting those close to
them who are only trying to help. .  They
often stop treatment and then they have difficulty coping with the
consequences.  They can no longer hold
down a job or take on every day responsibilities.  Once they become homeless,  it is much harder to treat.

  Treatment in is usually a combination of antipsychotic
medications and different therapies.. Antipsychotics work very well against hallucinations
and delusions but work much less against the  other symptoms such as apathy and withdrawal..
Combining therapies and antipsychotic medications gives the best chance of a normal
life.. When the right combination is found, people can live a productive
life with schizophrenia.

   The youngest
person ever diagnosed with schizophrenia 
was a little girl named January Schofields. From the day she was
born, her parents knew something was different about their baby. She seemed
smarter than the average baby and she was very restless..
In the beginning years, her parents thought the hallucinations and unusual
statements were from their daughter’s overly active imagination. Two-year old
Jani had many imaginary friends who showed themselves in animals and little
girls. Imaginary friend Wednesday who was a rat and 400 who was a cat would
tell her to hit her parents. She would scratch them and draw blood. Jani
explained if she didn’t, the two would hurt her instead. Jani’s hallucinations
became so intense that she would try and hurt herself, her parents or her
little brother.. She is now in highschool and after many hospitalizations and
different medications, she is doing much better and is living with the disease.
By the time January
Schofield was diagnosed with schizophrenia, she was a danger to herself and
others. Her family say their ordeal is far from over as they learn to live with
an illness that is much more severe when it afflicts children.

    In older
times Schizophrenia was not understood. It was not believed to be a sickness.  People who suffered from the disease were
thought to be possessed by demons. There were many people killed or
institutionalized, because they were believed to be crazy and possessed. These
practices continued for centuries. . But in the late 18th century beliefs in
modern psychiatry started to change and schizophrenia was beginning to be
considered a disease.

  We have come a long way to understanding this
disease.  If treated properly, people can
live a productive life. The internet
has also become a useful tool for schizophrenia sufferers and their families
and friends., There are so many useful resources and online communities
focusing on  schizophrenia.  Research into the causes and treatment of
schizophrenia is continuous,, with a focus on genetic research.  Hopefully with all this research, we can
narrow down a cause and  find a cure.