Schizophrenia is a complex mental health disorder that affects an individual's ability to think, feel, behave, and relate to others. The condition has several possible causes, including genetics and environmental influences, abnormal brain chemistry, stress, and history of mind-altering drug abuse. Symptoms usually begin between the ages of 16 and 30. There are no lab tests available to detect schizophrenia. Diagnosis is a complex process due to the relapse and remission cycles of the disease. However, doctors can evaluate a variety of symptoms, categorized as positive, negative, and cognitive, to determine a schizophrenia diagnosis.
Although the symptoms of schizophrenia can appear suddenly, in most cases, the individual experiences a gradual onset. People closest to the person may sense changes in the person's behavior. They may notice that the individual has become unmotivated, emotionless, and indifferent about their surroundings. Schizophrenia causes a decrease in attention span. Work or school performance usually declines. Additionally, the person may neglect his or her appearance, stop participating in activities or hobbies, and become increasingly reclusive. They may also begin to express unusual thoughts or suspicions.
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