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Introduction

The goal of this website is to provide a thorough overview of the causes and symptoms of schizophrenia, while focusing in on the different treatment options currently available.

The term schizophrenia literally means split mind. It was first used in 1911 by Eugen Bleuler, a Swiss psychiatrist, to categorize patients whose thought processes and emotional responses seemed disconnected. Schizophrenia is now used to describe a group of symptoms that typically includes delusions, hallucinations, disordered thinking, and emotional unresponsiveness. No single cause has been found to explain all aspects of this devastating syndrome. Most likely, the symptoms are triggered by a number of disease processes, genetic factors and environmental stresses.

Because symptoms of schizophrenia develop from various physical processes and respond differently to treatments, experts classify the disease based on the presence of positive (includes psychosis and mental disorganization) and negative (includes apathy and social withdrawal) symptoms. However, positive and negative symptoms often overlap and interact with each other, so this categorization may be misleading. Positive symptoms, according to several studies, often improve in tandem with negative symptoms, indicating some biologic link. Three categories can then be used: presence of negative symptoms, psychosis, and thought-disordered thinking. A schizophrenic patient may have more than one symptom, but rarely does a patient with schizophrenia have all of them, and symptoms often go into remission. As the mechanisms in the brain that lead to schizophrenia are being discovered, researchers are attempting to define more accurate ways of describing the disease.

Several treatment strategies are currently being employed to treat people with schizophrenia.  The two main groups of treatment options are those involving pharmaceutical drugs and those not based on pharmaceutical treatments.  The section on drugs talks about the various medications that can be given to schizophrenic patients.  Each drug has a variety of benefits and side effects and are often unable to relieve the patient of all of his or her symptoms.  For this reason, there are a variety of non-drug treatments available.  These range from individual therapy to family therapy to group housing.  The idea for treating the schizophrenic patient is to make them feel like useful and capable members of society.  In order to accomplish this, many patients with schizophrenia utilize both pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical based treatments.