These are Severe Mental Illnesses (SMI). However, contrary to popular belief, they can be effectively treated in the vast majority. Some individuals can also go off medications and stay well. If treated early enough and with the right set of medicines, persons with these illnesses can do phenomenally well.
Bipolar disorder is characterized by phases of low mood alternating with phases of abnormally elevated mood. The intensity, frequency, duration and sequence can vary widely with many different permutations and combinations possible. It is not to be confused with day to day mood swings or borderline personality.
Schizophrenia is most typically characterized by presence of delusions and hallucinations in the absence of marked mood changes. However, presentation of schizophrenia can be more subtle, confusing and may evade early diagnosis. A proper evaluation is therefore necessary in all suspected cases. Schizophrenia can sometimes present with no obvious delusions or hallucinations.
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