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Schizophrenia is a common and serious mental disorder characterized by loss of contact with reality.
The behaviors, described below, must be present for six months or longer to establish a diagnosis. Approximately 1% of the world’s population is affected by this condition. Schizophrenia is more common among lower socioeconomic classes in urban areas, perhaps because its disabling effects lead to unemployment and poverty. In the United States, 25% of all hospital beds are occupied by people with schizophrenia.
Symptoms and signs of schizophrenia include loss of contact with reality (psychosis), auditory and visual hallucinations (false perceptions), delusions (false beliefs), abnormal thinking, restricted range of emotions, diminished motivation, and disturbed work and social functioning. People with schizophrenia may also engage in speech that does not make sense, exhibit silly or childlike facial expressions, and experience poor memory or confusion.
Exercise has long been recognized for its benefits in treating mild to moderate depression and there is some evidence that it may also be helpful in reducing anxiety.1 In one reported case, physical activity improved the functioning of a man diagnosed with schizophrenia.2 In another reported case, aggressive outbursts in a schizophrenic patient were reduced after he began exercising.3 A preliminary trial of an exercise program for hospitalized psychiatric patients with varying diagnoses resulted in significantly reduced symptoms of depression and an insignificant trend towards reduced anxiety.4 Additional research is needed to determine the specific benefits of exercise in people with schizophrenia.
Magnetic stimulation to the skull and underlying motor cortex (the part of the brain that controls movement) significantly reduced auditory hallucinations in a group of people with schizophrenia in a small, controlled trial.5 The procedure was performed by psychiatrists using sophisticated electromagnetic medical equipment, not a simple magnet.
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The information presented in Aisle7 is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2014.