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Schizophrenia is a serious chemical imbalance in the brain considered to be the most chronic and disabling of all mental illnesses. People with schizophrenia often suffer terrifying hallucinations such as hearing internal voices not heard by others, or thought disorders such as believing that other people are controlling their thoughts, or plotting against them.
Symptoms including hallucinations, delusions, disordered thinking, unusual speech or behavior, and social withdrawal.  Significant problems with judgment and reasoning abilities are also evident.   Schizophrenia is considered to be a progressive illness in that over time, many diagnosed individuals show a decline in basic living skills and routine functioning that most people take for granted.   These symptoms almost always interfere with personal and occupational functioning.

Initial signs of the disorder are usually in the late teens or twenties.  Although rare, schizophrenia can also appear in childhood.

Many individuals with this disease alternate between periods of acute decompensation and more stable periods of functioning. About one percent of the general population and more than two million Americans suffer from schizophrenia in any given year.  The disease is diagnosed equally in men and women, but symptoms tend to occur earlier in males.

Available treatments can relieve symptoms, but schizophrenia is a chronic disorder requiring long-term care.   Supportive psychotherapy focused on the development and maintenance of independent living skills along with teaching compliance with medications are essential components of treatment.

Additional resources, both local and national, may be accessed by contacting the organizations listed below.
National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression (NARSAD)
60 Cutter Mill Road, Suite 404
Great Neck, NY 11021
Phone: 516-829-0091
Toll Free: 800-829-8289
Email: info@narsad.org
URL: http://www.narsad.org
747 East Broad Street
Columbus, OH 43205
Phone:  (614) 224-2700
Toll Free:  (800) 686-2646
Email:  namiohio@namiohio.org
URL:  http://www.namiohio.org

Center for Mental Health Services
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Rm. 12-105 Parklawn Building
5600 Fishers Lane
Rockville, MD 20857
Phone: 301-443-8956
Fax: 301-443-9050
URL: http://www.samhsa.gov/
Center for Mental Health Services
Consumer Affairs Program
5600 Fishers Lane, Rm. 15-99
Rockville, MD 20857
Phone: 301-443-2792

Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS)
Emergency Mental Health and Traumatic Stress Services Branch
5600 Fisher’s Lane, Room 17C-20
Rockville, MD 20857
Phone: 301-443-4735
URL: http://www.mentalhealth.org/cmhs/emergencyservices/default.asp