An illness characterized by a co-occurrence of at least two of the following symptoms: hallucinations, delusions, disorganized speech, disorganized/catatonic behavior, or negative symptoms occurring for a significant period of time during a 1-month period and associated with continuous problems over at least a 6-month period.
Characteristic factors are positive symptoms (e.g., auditory hallucinations, thought disorder, delusions) and negative symptoms (e.g., demotivation, self-neglect, and reduced emotion). For a diagnosis, at least one of the symptoms needs to be a positive symptom.
Onset is usually in early adulthood and may be preceded by years of ill-differentiated symptoms, from behavioral changes and delusions to frank psychosis.
Initially, patients are usually referred by family members. As the illness progresses, patients tend to self-refer or are brought in by a case manager or law enforcement officer.
Antipsychotic therapy and psychosocial interventions are effective for most patients, but to varying degrees.
Suicidal tendency is one of the most dangerous complications. As many as 15% of patients may kill themselves. The risk is highest at the onset of the illness.