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Schizophrenia varies in severity from person to person.
Some people have only one psychotic episode while others have many episodes during a lifetime but lead relatively normal lives between episodes.
Psychiatrists and psychologists use specially designed interviews and assessment tools to evaluate a person for a psychotic disorder.
The therapist bases his or her diagnosis on the person's and family's report of symptoms and his or her observation of the person's attitude and behavior.
The most common symptoms of schizophrenia can be grouped into several categories including positive symptoms, cognitive symptoms, and negative symptoms.
In this case, the word positive does not mean "good." Rather, it refers to obvious symptoms that are exaggerated forms of thinking or behavior that become irrational.
Still other individuals with this disorder may experience a decline in their functioning over time with little improvement between full blown psychotic episodes.
Depending on the level of severity and the consistency of treatment received they are able to live with their families or in community settings rather than in long-term psychiatric institutions.
These symptoms, which are sometimes referred to as psychotic symptoms, include: The exact cause of schizophrenia is not yet known.
It is known, however, that schizophrenia -- like cancer and diabetes -- is a real illness with a biological basis.
The disorder affects men and women equally, although symptoms generally appear earlier in men (in their teens or 20s) than in women (in their 20s or early 30s).
Earlier onset of symptoms has been linked to a more severe course of illness.Contrary to popular belief, schizophrenia is not a split or multiple personality.Schizophrenia is a psychosis, a type of mental illness in which a person cannot tell what is real from what is imagined.Schizophrenia can leave its sufferer frightened and withdrawn.