Schizophrenia is a mental health diagnosis characterised by "psychoses" such as visual hallucinations, delusions, and hearing voices. Other symptoms include lack of interest in life, lack of emotional experience, problems concentrating and lack of interest in other people, which are similar to depression. It is a condition that is highly stigmatised by the media as it is often misunderstood. Talk to one of our highly experienced therapists or psychiatrists if you have been diagnosed with this condition, have a relative who suffers with it or are concerned you may be schizophrenic.
Schizophrenia is a disorder of the mind that affects how you think, feel and behave. Its symptoms are described as ‘positive’ or ‘negative’.
Positive symptoms are symptoms that people experience when they start having a schizophrenic episode. These include hearing voices, seeing things that others don't, believing something is real or true when it isn't, or believing their thoughts are being monitored or controlled by others.
Negative symptoms are experiences that people with schizophrenia stop having when they start having a schizophrenic episode. Typical negative symptoms in schizophrenia include losing interest in things they used to enjoy, feeling disconnected from emotions or having less motivation.
The term ‘schizophrenia’ carries stigma because of its frequent misuse in media and entertainment, but research has done much to re-educate the public, and inform more accurate stories about serious mental illness.
The word ‘schizophrenia’ comes from the Greek for ‘split mind’. It is therefore often mistakenly used to describe someone with multiple personalities. This is not correct.
Some people think if someone hears voices or is having a schizophrenic or psychotic episode, they are dangerous. This is rarely the case. In fact, one study, published in 2011 suggests that people suffering from schizophrenia are up to 14 times more likely to be the victim of violent crime than to be arrested for committing a violent crime.
Other mental illnesses that share many of the same symptoms as schizophrenia include schizoaffective disorder, schizotypal personality disorder and schizoid personality disorder.
Symptoms usually start in late teenage years or early 20s.
There is no cure for schizophrenia. However, it can be controlled through a combination of talk therapy and medication.
About 14.5 per 1000 people over the age of 18 in the UK have a diagnosis of schizophrenia, according to NICE. That means there are about 250,000 people suffering from the disease.
We still don’t know for sure, but it may be down to genetics, on environmental stressors such as isolation, bereavement or abuse. Research into the relationship between schizophrenia and recreational cannabis use is ongoing.
Schizophrenia can be a difficult diagnosis to make and so the condition is usually diagnosed by a psychiatrist.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) – the organisation that produces guidelines on best practice in health care – advises treating schizophrenia and psychosis with both talking treatments and antipsychotic medication.
Talk to one of our expert therapists or psychiatrists if you have been diagnosed with this condition, have a relative who suffers with it or are concerned you may be schizophrenic.
Rethink’s local services and peer support groups provide support, and the charity also runs a phoneline to provide practical health and housing rights advice to people with schizophrenia and diagnoses like it.
Mind provides in-depth information on schizophrenia, and what a diagnosis means, and its Local Minds services often run peer support groups open to people with schizophrenia.
SANE’s research into schizophrenia continues to shape policy, and their phoneline, forum and Textcare services provide support to people with schizophrenia and diagnoses like it.
This UK charity represents and supports people with a schizophrenia diagnosis, and people who live with and support them.