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Below is information that has been re-printed from WebMD (www.webmd.com) on schizophrenia.  If you are concerned that you, or someone that you know, may have a problem with schizophrenia, please call the Fulton County Department of Behavioral Health & Developmental Disabilities at (404) 613-3675.  Our Behavioral Health Access & Information Line is available Monday thru Friday from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM.  If you need assistance after those hours, please call the Georgia Crisis & Access Line at 1-800-715-4225.




According to WebMD, Schizophrenia is an illness that harms how your brain works and how you think.  It affects each person in a different way, both on a daily basis and over a lifetime.  How society and the people you come in contact with react to schizophrenia also can make a difference in how schizophrenia affects you.  They may make it easier or harder for you to cope with the illness.

Schizophrenia can change you in many ways.  It may make it harder for you to think clearly, manage how you feel, and deal with other people.  Most people who have schizophrenia hear and sometimes see things that are not that are not there (hallucinations), often believe some things that are not true (delusions), and may think that some people are trying to harm them (paranoia).  With treatment, they may come to understand that these experiences are not real but are a problem with how their brains work.

According to WebMD, there are several types of schizophrenia.  The most common type is paranoid schizophrenia, which causes people to have frightening thoughts, believe that people or forces are trying to harm them, and hear voices.  Some people think that schizophrenia is the same as "split personality" (dissociative identity disorder), but that is a different mental health problem.   Living with schizophrenia can cause many challenges.  It is a difficult disease.  It changes your life and your family members' lives.  But if you are willing to work at helping yourself, you get professional help, and you have the support and understanding of your family, you can live a full and meaningful life.


According to WebMD, experts don't know what causes schizophrenia.  It may have different causes for different people.  In some people, brain chemistry and brain structure are not normal.  Family history may play a role, and problems that harm a baby's brain during pregnancy also may help cause it. 


Man sitting

According to WebMD, the symptoms of schizophrenia include the following:

  • Negative Symptoms - "negative" does not mean bad; instead, they are things that are lost from your personality or how you experience life because of schizophrenia.  Negative symptoms include not caring about things, having no interest or drive to do things, and not taking care of yourself - such as not bathing or not eating regularly.  You may find it hard to say how you feel, or you may become angry with strangers for no reason and react to others in other harmful ways.
  • Positive Symptoms - "positive" does not mean good.  Positive symptoms are things added or new to your personality or how you experience life because of schizophrenia.  They include hallucinations, delusions, and thoughts and speech that are confusing.
  • Cognitive Symptoms - these deal with how you think.  They can include memory loss, not being able to understand things well enough to make decisions, and having trouble talking clearly to others.  Cognitive symptoms often are not obvious to you or others.

Symptoms of schizophrenia usually start when you are a teen or a young adult, but they may start later in life.  They may suddenly appear or may develop slowly.  You may not be aware of your symptoms.  According to WebMD, negative symptoms usually appear first.  They may be hard to recognize as schizophrenia because they are similar to symptoms of other problems, such as depression.  Positive symptoms can start days, months, or years after the negative symptoms.

Early signs of schizophrenia may include doing worse in school, thinking that people are trying to harm you, or having changes in your personality, such as wanting to see people.   These signs do not necessarily mean that you have schizophrenia.  However, if you do have them, see a doctor.


According to WebMD, your doctor will ask you questions about your health, and about any odd experiences you may have had - such as hearing voices or having confusing thoughts.  You will have a physical exam.  Your doctor also may suggest tests, such as blood tests or imaging tests, to see if your symptoms may be caused by another health problem.


Man and medication

Getting treatment and other help for schizophrenia can greatly improve your life.  Medicines help your symptoms, and counseling and therapy help you change how you think about things and deal with illness.  Treatment may last a long time. 

Once you have your symptoms under control, you are in recovery.  Recovery is usually a lifelong process.   In the recovery process, you learn to cope with your symptoms and challenges, find and meet your goals, and develop the support you need.  Your recovery depends upon a partnership between you, your doctors, and others who are important in your life.

The goals of treatment and recovery are to reduce or stop symptoms, reduce the number of relapses, and develop a personal plan for your recovery by setting and meeting goals for home, work, and relationships.  Your treatment and recovery plan may change as your experience of schizophrenia and your life change.


People who have schizophrenia often stop treatment.  This may be because they don't understand that they have an illness or because the medicines cause side effects.  When treatment stops, symptoms usually come back (relapse) or get worse.  A relapse might happen right after treatment is stopped or months later.  A later relapse makes it hard to see that stopping the medicine was the cause.  During a relapse, some people with schizophrenia can't deal with treatment on their own and may need to spend time in a hospital. 

You can help by talking to your loved one and helping him or her to continue treatment.  You also can help your loved one deal with fear and other feelings about the illness and with the negative attitudes some people have toward schizophrenia.



If you have questions about schizophrenia, or wish to make an appointment for yourself or a loved one, please contact our Behavioral Health Access & Information Line at (404) 613-3675.   A clinician from the Fulton County Department of Behavioral Health & Developmental Disabilities is available Monday thru Friday from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM, and can assist you.  After hours, please call the Georgia Crisis and Access Line at 1-800-715-4225.