Schizophrenia is a serious brain disorder. It is a disease that makes it difficult for a person to tell the difference between real and unreal experiences, to think logically, to have normal emotional responses to other, and to behave normally in social situations. People with schizophrenia may also have difficulty in remembering, talking, and behaving appropriately. Schizophrenia is one of the most common mental illnesses. About 1% of the world population has schizophrenia. In the United States, there are about 2.5 million people with the disease. Schizophrenia is the cause of more hospitalizations than almost any other illness. Schizophrenia most commonly begins between the ages of 15 and 25. Although it strikes men and women equally, the symptoms may appear later in women than in men. Very rarely, the symptoms of schizophrenia can appear before the age of 12. Childhood schizophrenia has a more chronic disease course and involves poor early language development.
People with schizophrenia can have a variety of symptoms. Sometimes, these symptoms come on suddenly. Usually, the illness develops slowly over months or even years. At first the symptoms may not be noticeable or may be confused with other conditions. For example people with schizophrenia may feel tense be unable to concentrate, or have trouble sleeping. It is hard for people to put up with unpleasant side effects for months or years. It is especially hard when the person feels well. It is very important to find the medication that controls symptoms without causing side effects. Some medications need to be taken two, three or even four times a day. Others may be taken just once a day. People are more likely to remember to take a medication once a day than several times a day. (