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What is schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a severe long-term mental health condition. 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.

Unfortunately, there is not yet a cure for schizophrenia. This may be because the causes of the illness are not fully understood. You may find that you need to continue treatment to keep well.

Up to 3 in 10 people with schizophrenia may have a lasting recovery, and 1 in 5 people may show significant improvement. Around half of people diagnosed with schizophrenia will continue to have it as a long-term illness. Everyone’s experience of schizophrenia is different. It may get better then worse, involve further episodes of being unwell, or may be more constant.

You need to find the right treatment for you. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends that you should be offered a combination of medication and talking therapies.


Your doctor may offer you medication known as an ‘antipsychotics’. These reduce the symptoms of schizophrenia, but do not cure the illness. Your healthcare professionals should work with you to help choose a medication. If you want, your carer can also help you make the decision. Doctors should explain the benefits and side effects of each drug.

In the past, antipsychotics had negative side effects. Some people find that the side effects of newer antipsychotic drugs are easier to manage.
If you have been on an antipsychotic for a few weeks and the side effects are too difficult to cope with, you should ask your doctor about trying a different one. NICE state that people who have not responded to at least 2 other antipsychotic drugs should be offered clozapine.

Your medication should be reviewed at least once a year.

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Talk to others

Many people find it helpful to meet other people with the same experiences for mutual support and to share ideas. It's also an important reminder that you're not alone.

Charities and support groups allow individuals and families to share experiences and coping strategies, campaign for better services, and provide support.

Useful charities, support groups and associations include:

There are also other places that offer support to people with schizophrenia and other mental illnesses.

Signs & Symptoms 

Positive symptoms

  • The terms ‘positive symptoms’ and ‘psychosis’ are generally used to describe the same symptoms. The following are positive symptoms.

  • Hallucinations

  • Delusions

  • Disorganised thinking


  • These are experiences that are not real or that other people do not experience. Hallucinations can affect all of your senses which are:

  • auditory (sound),

  • visual (sight),

  • tactile (touch),

  • gustatory (taste) and

  • olfactory (smell)

  • Hearing voices or other sounds is the most common hallucination. Hearing voices is different for everyone.
    For example, voices may be:

  • female or male,

  • someone you know or someone you’ve never heard,

  • in a different language or different accent to your own,

  • whispering or shouting, or

  • negative and disturbing.

  • You might hear voices every now and then or all of the time.

Self - Help 

.Self care and management skills can help you to understand and overcome symptoms of schizophrenia. Your health or social worker may offer to support you with self management. You may also be offered training and peer support from people who have recovered from schizophrenia. All of these people can help you to manage your symptoms by caring for yourself.

Self care focuses on:

  • your diet,

  • exercise,

  • daily routine, and

  • relationships and emotions.

You can also learn about the following:

  • Your illness

  • How to take medication

  • How to recognise when you are becoming unwell

  • How to recognise what your triggers are

  • How to get help

  • What to do in a crisis

  • How to achieve and maintain recovery

Emergency Action plan:

People’s experience of hallucinations or delusions may cause them to not trust people, even those close to them. If the person is experiencing paranoia, you should:


• Tell the person that you do not see any threats, but that you will stay with them if it helps them feel safe.

• Encourage and support them to move away from whatever is causing their fear, if it is safe to do so.

• Tell the person what you are going to do before doing it, e.g. that you are going to get out your phone.

• Give the person simple directions, if needed, e.g. “Sit down, and let’s talk about it”.

• Stay with the person, but at a distance that is comfortable for both of you.


Do not encourage or inflame the person’s paranoia, e.g. by whispering to or about them. Likewise, do not use body language that could exacerbate paranoia, e.g. approaching the person with your hands in your pockets or behind your back, or standing over or too close to th

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