What is Schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia is a severe long-term mental health challenge. It causes a range of different psychological symptoms.
Doctors often describe schizophrenia as a type of psychosis. This means the person may not always be able to distinguish their own thoughts and ideas from reality.
Symptoms of schizophrenia include:
- Hallucinations – hearing or seeing things that don't exist
- Delusions – unusual beliefs not based on reality
- Muddled thoughts based on hallucinations or delusions
- Changes in behaviour
Some people think schizophrenia causes a "split personality" or violent behaviour. This is not true. The cause of any violent behaviour is usually drug or alcohol misuse. When someone with schizophrenia is hearing voices they are not always violent or angry, they can be playful, friendly and funny.
What treatments are there?
Schizophrenia is usually treated with a combination of medication and therapy tailored to each individual. In most cases, this will be antipsychotic medicines and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).
People with schizophrenia usually receive help from a community mental health team, which offers 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 daily life.
If schizophrenia is well managed, it's possible to reduce the chance 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.
Who can help?
If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of schizophrenia, see your GP as soon as possible. The earlier schizophrenia is treated, the better. There's no single test for schizophrenia. It's usually diagnosed after an assessment by a mental health care professional, such as a psychiatrist. You can also refer yourself to services that offer help and support for people with Schizophrenia and other Mental Health Challenges.
Mental health challenges are common but help is available and with the right support many people recover completely. Check out our Who Can Help Page for lots of services who are local and national!