Schizophrenia is a serious and lifelong neurodevelopmental disorder that affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves.
People with schizophrenia may experience delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech or behavior, and impaired cognitive ability. They may hear voices or see things that aren’t there. They may believe other people are reading their minds, controlling their thoughts, or plotting to harm them. These behaviors can be scary and upsetting to people with the illness and make them withdrawn or extremely agitated. It can also be scary and upsetting to the people around them.
People with schizophrenia may sometimes talk about strange or unusual ideas, which can make it difficult to carry on a conversation. They may sit for hours without moving or talking. Sometimes people with schizophrenia seem perfectly fine until they talk about what they are thinking.
Schizophrenia is not dissociative identity disorder (formerly called multiple personality disorder or split personality). While some of the signs may seem similar on the surface, people with dissociative identity disorder have two or more distinct identities that are present and alternately take control of them.
People with schizophrenia may cope with symptoms throughout their lives, but treatment helps many to recover sufficiently and pursue their life goals. Researchers are using new research tools to understand the causes of schizophrenia and develop more effective treatments.