Schizophrenia is the most common serious
mental illness, affecting 1 in 100 people at some time in their
life, writes Natalie Valios. It usually develops in late
adolescence and can be inherited. It is a psychotic disorder.
Symptoms can be split into two groups – positive or florid, and
negative. A common florid symptom is hearing voices. Negative
symptoms can include feelings of emotional numbness, difficulty
communicating with other people, and an inability to care about
everyday tasks. About one in 10 people with schizophrenia commits
suicide. Causes are unknown but episodes of schizophrenia seem to
be associated with changes in some brain chemicals. Other triggers
can include stressful events and some recreational drugs. Paranoid
schizophrenia is the most common type of schizophrenia. The main
features of paranoid schizophrenia are delusions or hallucinations.
Patients often also have unfocused anxiety and anger. The most
common paranoid symptoms are delusions of persecution, or exalted
birth, or the patient thinking they are on a special mission.
Patients can imagine hallucinatory voices that threaten or give
commands or auditory hallucinations such as whistling, humming or
laughing. Hallucinations can also be of smell or taste or of sexual
or other bodily sensations. Schizophrenia is not curable but
symptoms can be managed with antipsychotic drugs. However, these
drugs often have side-effects including involuntary muscle
movements and tics.

Paranoid schizophrenia can be episodic, with
partial or complete remissions. In chronic cases, symptoms persist
over years.

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