Schizophrenia

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Schizophrenia is a long term mental health condition that causes a range of different psychological symptoms, including:
  • hallucinations – sensory experiences that do not exist outside the persons mind
  • delusions – unusual beliefs not based on reality that often contradict the evidence
  • confusion based on the above
  • changes in behaviour which may include neglect and social isolation.
Doctors often describe schizophrenia as a psychotic illness. This means sometimes a person may not be able to distinguish their own thoughts and ideas from reality. It also means only doctors and Psychiatrists are able to diagnose the condition and prescribe medication.
Read more about the symptoms of schizophrenia.

Why does schizophrenia happen?

The exact cause of schizophrenia is unknown however most experts believe the condition is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.It is thought certain things make you more vulnerable to developing schizophrenia, and certain situations can trigger the condition.
Read more about the causes of schizophrenia.

Who is affected?

Schizophrenia is one of the most common serious mental health conditions. About 1 in 100 people will experience schizophrenia in their lifetime, with many continuing to lead normal lives. Schizophrenia is most often diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 35. Men and women are affected equally.
It is important that schizophrenia is diagnosed as early as possible, as the chances of recovery improve the earlier it is treated.
Read more about diagnosing schizophrenia.

How is schizophrenia treated?

Schizophrenia is usually treated with a combination of medication and therapy appropriate to each individual. In most cases, this will be antipsychotic medicines and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) often in the later stages in an individuals recovery journey.
People with schizophrenia will usually receive help from a community mental health team (CMHT) which will offer day to day support and treatment.
Many people recover from schizophrenia, although they may have periods when symptoms return (relapses). Support and treatment can help reduce the impact the condition has on your life.
Read more about treating schizophrenia.

Living with schizophrenia

If schizophrenia is well managed, it is possible to reduce the chances of severe relapses. This can include:
  • recognising the signs of an acute episode
  • taking medication as prescribed
  • talking to others about the condition
There are many charities and support groups offering help and advice on living with schizophrenia. Most people find it comforting talking to others with a similar condition.
Read more about living with schizophrenia.

Misconceptions about schizophrenia

Split personality: it is commonly thought people with schizophrenia have a split personality, acting perfectly normally one minute and irrationally or bizarrely the next  this is not true.
Violent behaviour: some people mistakenly equate schizophrenia with violent behaviour, but people with the condition are rarely dangerous.