Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Audrey from Rye. Audrey Wonders, “What causes schizophrenia?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Audrey!

Have you ever been sick? It’s not fun. No one wants to catch the stomach bug or even a cold. Luckily, most common illnesses are easily cured. We can visit the doctor and get medicine or help to feel better. However, not all sicknesses are so easy to get rid of. Sometimes, people have chronic illnesses. That means that they can treat their symptoms, but the illness itself won’t go away. Some examples of chronic illnesses are diabetes, asthma, and epilepsy.

Most mental illnesses are also chronic. People can take medicine or get therapy, but the illnesses never go away. The most common chronic mental illness is depression. Social Anxiety Disorder is another condition many have. You may have heard of depression and anxiety, as they’re both very common. However, there’s another chronic illness you may not know much about. Have you ever heard of schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia affects a person’s thoughts, feelings, and actions. It only appears in about one percent of people. However, its effects can be crushing. Schizophrenia hurts a person’s ability to tell what’s real and what’s not. They may see or hear things that are not there. They may also become paranoid or confused. These symptoms are difficult for people to live with.

We know what causes most illnesses. Colds come from viruses. Bacteria causes food poisoning. Many infections can cause fevers. So what causes schizophrenia? There is no single cause. Sometimes, it runs in families. Parents pass down genes that make their children more likely to have schizophrenia. Doctors also think problems in brain development may be to blame. Whatever the cause, it’s important for people with schizophrenia to see their doctors regularly.

Do you see a doctor when you’re sick? Doctors really help people with schizophrenia. They give the patients medicine to treat their symptoms. They also show them how to deal with their illness. Seeing a doctor makes a huge difference for a person with schizophrenia. There is no cure for the disorder, but treatment helps many people with the illness lead full lives.

Unfortunately, about 40% of people with schizophrenia don’t see a doctor. There are a lot of reasons for this. One common reason is that the person doesn’t want to admit they have schizophrenia. That’s because misunderstandings about the disorder cause fear among many people. For example, many people think schizophrenia causes multiple personalities or violence. Neither of those things is true. People with schizophrenia may act oddly sometimes. However, that’s because they’re reacting to their hallucinations, not because they’ve become a different person.

For others, the treatment for schizophrenia is just too expensive. New patients spend about $4,000 on hospital stays in one year. On top of that, their medicine costs about $2,500. The price tag is too much for many people, especially those without insurance. Instead, they suffer without treatment.

Does schizophrenia affect someone you know? There are many ways you can help. Company from friends and family can make a positive difference. Spend time with them, and encourage them to do things they enjoy. Learning more about the illness will also help. Also, encourage the person with schizophrenia to seek medical help when they need it.

Schizophrenia may be uncommon, but it’s affected many well-known people. Have you ever heard of Vincent van Gogh? How about Mary Todd Lincoln? Do you know of football player Lionel Aldridge or actress Veronica Lake? All of these people had schizophrenia and still accomplished great things. Illness, whether physical or mental, should never stop a person from chasing their dreams.

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