In people experiencing an episode of schizophrenia, the mental processes of thinking become distorted, making it hard for them to distinguish reality from what is imagined.

When severe, Schizophrenia can lead to immense panic, anger, depression, elation or over activity, perhaps punctuated by periods of withdrawal. 

Schizophrenia is a long-term mental health condition that causes a range of different psychological symptoms, including:

• hallucinations - hearing or seeing things that do not exist

• delusions - unusual beliefs not based on reality which often contradict the evidence

• muddled thoughts based on the hallucinations or delusions

• changes in behaviour

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.

The symptoms of schizophrenia are divided into two groups, called 'positive' (for example, hallucinations and delusions) and 'negative' (for example, slowness to move, think, speak or react). These may occur separately, together or alternately.

It is a relatively common condition with approximately 1 in 100 people worldwide experiencing an episode of schizophrenia at some time during their lives. Highest incidence is in the late teens and early twenties.  People can however develop schizophrenia at any age and a small number of people develop schizophrenia in middle age or when they are older. In about one quarter of cases, there is eventually a full recovery. The majority continue to have problems, but usually they also have long periods of good functioning.


Effective treatment involves a number of different approaches. Ideally it is most effective when given in the early stages of the illness. Some form of medication is usually essential for most people.  However, this should be given in combination with education about the disorder, emotional support and help with learning how to manage any continuing symptoms.

In most cases, this will be antipsychotic medicines and psychosocial. People with schizophrenia will usually receive help from a community mental health team (CMHT), which will offer regular 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 of the condition on one’s life.

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