Schizophrenia is a mental illness that affects the way you think. It does not mean that you have a split personality or that you are likely to be violent. The symptoms may effect how you cope with day-to-day life and can include:
- hallucinations - hearing or seeing things that do not exist
- delusions - unusual beliefs not based on reality that often contradict the evidence
- muddled thoughts based on hallucinations or delusions
- changes in behaviour
Schizophrenia is a common illness. About one in a hundred people will develop schizophrenia. It is most often diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 35. Men and women are affected equally.
During the early stage, which is called 'the prodromal phase', your sleep, emotions, motivation, communication and ability to think clearly may change. If you become unwell (this is called an 'acute episode') you may feel panic, anger or depression. Your first acute episode can be a shocking experience because you are not expecting it or prepared for it.
The exact causes of schizophrenia are unknown, but research suggests that a combination of physical, genetic, psychological and environmental factors can make people more likely to develop the condition. Information on NHS Choices
Schizophrenia is usually treated with an individually tailored combination of therapy and medication. More information about treating schizophrenia.
There are many charities and support groups offering help and advice for people living with schizophrenia. Most people find it comforting talking to others with a similar condition. Search our products and services to find out more.
More information on NHS Choices
More information for sufferers and carers