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Schizophrenia is a severe mental illness characterized by a variety of symptoms including loss of contact with reality bizarre behavior disorganized thinking and speech decreased emotional expressiveness and social withdrawal Usually only some of these symptoms occur in any one person The term schizophrenia comes from Greek words meaning split mind However contrary to common belief schizophrenia does not refer to a person with a split personality or multiple personalityTo observers schizophrenia may seem like madness or insanity Perhaps more than any other mental illness schizophrenia has a debilitating effect on the lives of the people who suffer from it A person with schizophrenia may have difficulty telling the difference between real and unreal experiences logical and illogical thoughts or appropriate and inappropriate behavior Schizophrenia seriously impairs a persons ability to work go to school enjoy relationships with others or take care of oneself In addition people with schizophrenia frequently require hospitalization because they pose a danger to themselves About 10 percent of people with schizophrenia commit suicide and many others attempt suicide Once people develop schizophrenia they usually suffer from the illness for the rest of their lives Although there is no cure treatment can help many people with schizophrenia lead productive lives Schizophrenia also carries an enormous cost to society People with schizophrenia occupy about one-third of all beds in psychiatric hospitals in the United States In addition people with schizophrenia account for at least 10 percent of the homeless population in the United States see Homelessness The National Institute of Mental Health has estimated that schizophrenia costs the United States tens of billions of dollars each year in direct treatment social services and lost productivity Prevalence Approximately 1 percent of people develop schizophrenia at some time during their lives Experts estimate that about 18 million people in the United States have schizophrenia The prevalence of schizophrenia is the same regardless of gender race and culture Although women are just as likely
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