Signs and symptoms of schizophrenia

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Incidence: One in 100 people, with 35,000 hospital admissions every year. Men and women suffer equally but it usually strikes men earlier and more severely.

Symptoms: The illness is characterised by a disconnection between thoughts, feelings and actions. The most common "negative" symptoms include losing interest and motivation and are often difficult to distinguish from normal adolescent rebelliousness. "Positive" symptoms are more noticeably odd: the sufferer may feel they have been taken over by an outside force, or hear voices. Delusions can be both fantastic - "I'm God's messenger" or "I'm being persecuted by men from Mars" - or apparently reasonable - "My wife's being unfaithful" or "Everyone at work is against me".

Treatment: The illness used to require lifelong hospitalisation. Drugs licensed in the 1950s gave patients more freedom but had serious side- effects. Today, there is still no cure but over the past few years, two new neuroleptics (drugs that

relieve hallucinations and thought disorder), clozapine and risperidone, have been

introduced which have fewer side-effects and are very effective.