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The basics of schizophrenia

Many people have heard of the mental disorder schizophrenia, but unless you have or know someone with the condition, you may not know what it is or how it affects a victim. Schizophrenia typically starts to affect people between the ages of 16 and 30, though in rare cases children can experience it as well.

There are several ways that schizophrenia can occur, including an exposure to certain viruses, malnutrition before birth and issues during a birth as well as psychosocial factors. Generally, schizophrenia is caused by a different combination of chemical structures in the brain, including an imbalance of necessary chemicals typical in a normally functioning brain.

There are three forms -- positive, negative and cognitive. Positive symptoms include delusions, thought disorders such as dysfunctional thought processes, hallucinations and movement disorders. Negative symptoms include a general feeling of apathy or less emotion including reduced feelings, a reduction in speech and a "flat affect" or just reduced emotions in one's voice and facial expressions. Cognitive symptoms could include difficulties paying attention and focusing, difficulties with memory and struggles with executive functioning or the ability to take information and apply it to sound decision making. All these conditions can make it incredibly difficult to function in any aspect of life, including work.

Schizophrenia is among the mental conditions that qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits for Mental Conditions. In order to qualify, you must prove that the condition is prohibitive enough that you are unable to maintain gainful employment and that the condition is expected to last at least a year or end in death.

Source: National Institute of Mental Health, "Schizophrenia," Accessed July 2, 2017

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