Acute schizophrenia occurs when a previously healthy person displays symptoms of schizophrenia and increasingly unusual behavior over a relatively short period of time, sometimes just a few weeks. Schizophrenia is a severe and disabling brain disease that causes people with the disease to have difficulty determining the difference between real and imagined events. They might hear voices that are not there, experience hallucinations and become extremely paranoid, genuinely thinking that others are conspiring against them. Many schizophrenia patients have suicidal thoughts. These severe experiences can make schizophrenia sufferers fearful of other people and afraid to go out in public, and they can make interpersonal relationships very difficult to maintain.
Generally, patients can lead normal lives in between attacks of acute schizophrenia, which can manifest itself several times during a person’s lifetime. Statistics show that 25 percent of people diagnosed with schizophrenia will have only one acute schizophrenic episode in a lifetime and will not experience any further problems. Another 25 percent will develop the chronic form of schizophrenia, with no periods of remission. The remaining half also will develop chronic schizophrenia, but will have periods of remission, during which the disease is in relapse.
In addition to chronic and acute schizophrenia, there are five types of the disease paranoid schizophrenia, catatonic schizophrenia, residual schizophrenia, disorganized or hebephrenic schizophrenia and an undifferentiated disorder. Symptoms of both chronic and acute schizophrenia develop earlier in males late, often in the teens or early 20s. The onset of symptoms in females occurs when they are between 20 and 30 years old. In rare cases, schizophrenia can occur in children. Common symptoms of all types of the disease include hallucinations, auditory delusions, disordered thinking, disorders affecting movement, lack of expression, social withdrawal and other cognitive deficits.
There is no known cure for schizophrenia, but antipsychotic medicines greatly improve the symptoms and can help prevent relapse. Psychological therapy also might reduce relapse rates and help patients function. The outlook for finding a cure and more treatment options for schizophrenia is dependent on continued research about its causes, prevention and outcomes of treatment. Progress has been reported, and a greater understanding about the symptoms and treatment of schizophrenia has been achieved.