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Myths and Facts About Schizophrenia

Myth: Schizophrenia is hopeless; people who have it never recover.
Fact: While there is no cure for schizophrenia, there are effective treatments. Medications, recovery-oriented psychosocial treatments and rehabilitation practices are increasingly helping people with schizophrenia to lead productive, successful and independent lives.

Myth: Hallucinations (seeing, hearing or experiencing things that others do not) and paranoia are the only symptoms of schizophrenia.
Fact: Schizophrenia is brain-based disease, so in addition to hallucinations, it affects multiple brain functions, such as the ability to think clearly, manage emotions, make decisions and relate to others. People with schizophrenia also have delusions, which are firmly held false beliefs, that may cause them to think people are following them or looking at them.

Myth: People with schizophrenia are dangerous.
Fact: Studies indicate that people receiving treatment for schizophrenia are no more dangerous than the rest of the population. More typically, individuals with schizophrenia are withdrawn and prefer to be left alone. People with schizophrenia are more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators. However, people with schizophrenia and alcohol and other drug abuse, or those who do not participate in treatment, are at increased risk for committing violent acts.

Myth: Everyone who has schizophrenia knows that they have an illness.
Fact: Many people who have schizophrenia wait months, sometimes years, and suffer needlessly before a proper diagnosis is made and treatment begins. Sometimes this is because they are unaware of what is wrong.

Myth: People with schizophrenia have split or multiple personalities.
Fact: Schizophrenia is not a split personality disorder. The myth of people with schizophrenia may have come about because the word schizophrenia comes from Greek words that mean "split mind." The split is referring to a split from reality – not a split or multiple personality.

Myth: People get schizophrenia because they had bad parenting as children or because they have weak character or personalities.
Fact: Schizophrenia is a complex disorder. It is not the result of anyone’s weakness or character flaws.

Myth: People with schizophrenia have to take a lot of medications in order to get better.
Fact: Research supports that when people with schizophrenia are treated with a combination of anti-psychotic medications and psychosocial therapies, they can and do get better. Psychosocial therapies involve work/school, family and relationships and personal goals.

Schizophrenia will not go away of its own accord; early identification and treatment is very important and can affect recovery. Serious problems at work or school, seeing, hearing or experiencing things that others do not, having firmly held false beliefs, withdrawing from social situations, speaking in a disorganized way or feeling paranoid are all signs and symptoms of schizophrenia. If you know of someone who is experiencing symptoms of schizophrenia, please encourage them to get professional help as soon as possible. Please use Ohio Department of Mental Health's Where to get help to find treatment providers near you.

More Facts About Schizophrenia

  • Schizophrenia affects approximately 1% of Americans
  • The average age of onset: for males, late teens to early 20s; for females, mid-20s to early 30s
  • Three out of every 100 people will experience a psychotic episode at some time in their lives
  • Schizophrenia affects anyone, regardless of culture, race, economic status, sex or ethnicity
  • Both genetics and environment play a role in whether someone develops schizophrenia
  • 50% of those affected by schizophrenia have a co-occurring substance abuse or chemical dependency diagnosis
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