Schizophrenia is a chronic mental disorder that affects how you think, feel and act. Someone with schizophrenia may have difficulty distinguishing between what is real and what is imaginary and may show signs of decline in ability to think clearly and emotional responsiveness. Schizophrenia is a complex, long-term medical illness that affects about 1% of Americans.

Overview and Symptoms

The term "schizophrenia" encompasses several related illnesses. Schizophrenia is usually a chronic mental disorder that can affect how a person thinks, feels and behaves. People with schizophrenia may experience disjointed or delusional thinking, decreased cognitive ability, or hallucinations. Some patients with schizophrenia experience a combination of all three of these symptoms while others may also have significant problems with maintaining motivation and social engagement. The cause of schizophrenia is unknown. There is no single gene that causes the disorder, but it often runs in families. Symptoms of schizophrenia usually start between ages 16 and 30, but can start earlier or later.


Treatment for schizophrenia focuses on reducing and hopefully eliminating symptoms such as delusions and hallucinations. Your doctor may prescribe antipsychotic medications, psychotherapy, or occupational therapy to address the diverse challenges of the illness. While there is no cure as yet, coordinated specialty care can help those with schizophrenia lead more productive and healthy lives.


Our highly specialized team in the Department of Psychiatry is committed to caring for those suffering from psychiatric illnesses. We strive to create new knowledge about the causes of these illnesses and to create new and more effective treatments for them through breakthrough research.

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