Schizophrenia is a chronic mental disorder that affects about 1 percent of people all over the world, including 3.2 million Americans. Contrary to the common misconception, schizophrenia does not mean "split personality" or "multiple personalities." Rather, the condition is characterized by abnormalities in a person's perception of reality. For instance, a person may have the following symptoms:
- Disordered thinking
- Unusual speech or behavior
- Social withdrawal.
Fortunately, several new antipsychotic medications have been developed within the last decade. These medications have fewer side effects than the older medications, and when combined with psychosocial interventions (such as therapy and rehabilitation), have improved the outlook for many people with schizophrenia.
(For more information, including possible causes of this condition, click Schizophrenia.)