Schizophrenia is a severe mental disorder that is characterized by abnormal social behaviors and a general failure to distinguish between reality and delusion. Major common symptoms of schizophrenia include holding false beliefs, auditory hallucinations, and general inactivity. It is believed that there is a strong genetic component to schizophrenia, with symptoms frequently developing in young adulthood.
Individuals suffering from schizophrenia experience different types of hallucinations, with the most common being the hearing of voices. They also suffer from delusions. The greatest risk for developing schizophrenia is by having a first-degree relative who also suffers from the disease. For example, having one parent with the disorder provides a 13 percent risk, while having two parents with schizophrenia raises the risk rate to 50 percent.
Approximately half of all schizophrenics also develop problems with drugs and alcohol. Such comorbidity is often in order to help cope with various symptoms. Many individuals with schizophrenia use marijuana for this purpose. Doctors prefer to treat schizophrenia with antipsychotic medications. Institutionalization has decreased significantly since the 1950s, although many patients may require repeated stays in psychiatric hospitals throughout their lifetimes. As schizophrenia is a major disability, it generally shortens the person's lifespan.