Schizophrenia is a serious long term mental illness that interferes with a person’s ability to think clearly, manage emotions, make decisions and relate to others. Symptoms are often “psychotic symptoms” because the person has lost touch with reality in certain ways. This also means that people affected by schizophrenia may not be able to distinguish their own thoughts and ideas from reality.
Persons suffering from schizophrenia have two or more of the following symptoms occurring persistently. Symptoms of schizophrenia can be categorised into positive or negative symptoms.
- Delusions or the belief in things not real or true
- Hallucinations are hearing or seeing things that are not real
- Disorganized speech expressed as an inability to generate a logical sequence of ideas
- Emotional flatness or lack of expressiveness
- Inability to start and follow through with activities
- Lack of pleasure or interest in life
- Trouble with prioritizing tasks, memory and organizing thoughts
- Lack of insight
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.
There is no single test for schizophrenia. It is most often diagnosed after an assessment by a mental health care professional, such as a psychiatrist. It is important that schizophrenia is diagnosed as early as possible, as the chances of recovery improve the earlier it is treated.
How does Schizophrenia develop?
The exact cause of schizophrenia is unknown. However, most experts believe development of the condition may be heightened by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
Schizophrenia is usually treated with a combination of medication and therapy appropriate to each individual. In most cases, this will be anti psychotic medicines and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). Many people recover from schizophrenia, although they may have periods when symptoms return (relapses). If schizophrenia is well managed, it is possible to reduce the chances of severe relapses. >> Find out more