Schizophrenia is a mental disorder which affects 1 per cent of the UK population.

In this article:

What is schizophrenia?

Diagnosis

Advice & Support

Symptoms

Effect on your life

Causes

Treatment

What is schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia is a mental illness that can occur in both men and women and is characterised by disordered experiences, beliefs and ideas – a sense of confusion about which of these are real (i.e. actually happening) and which are not.

Schizophrenia does not mean ‘split personality’, and people with schizophrenia do not suddenly become uncontrollably violent, only in rare cases.

Symptoms
Symptoms of schizophrenia include:

Delusions: a sense of paranoia that one is being followed, spied on, or even the target of a murder conspiracy. Also, someone with schizophrenia can become convinced that they are in love with another (a neighbour or TV celebrity, for example) and that the feeling is reciprocal, even though the two have never met or even communicated in any way.

Hallucinations: seeing people, animals of objects; hearing voices or sounds; and/or feeling things wetness or roughness, fur or silk or another texture that simply is not there, that is not real.

Illogical thoughts that are disordered: quickly changing from one subject to another; unselfconsciously speaking thoughts aloud; suddenly raising a new subject that is completely inappropriate for the situation or circumstances; and believing one’s thoughts are not one’s own, but those of someone else who controls you.

Causes
Causes of schizophrenia may include:

Genetics – some people have a genetic predisposition to developing schizophrenia (i.e. it is passed down from a previous generation, a family member.)

Pregnancy and childbirth complications

Issues in the realm of childhood development (due to factors such as: abuse, isolation, maternal deprivation or privation)

A reaction to a particularly stressful life event (a bereavement, divorce, or loss of job), and

Illegal drugs

Effect on your life
As well as suffering with the aforementioned symptoms, people with schizophrenia can also seriously neglect their appearance and self-care, lose interest in life, have no energy or motivation to perform even the smallest everyday tasks (such as brushing teeth or washing up), and also feel uncomfortable in social situations, in the workplace or even at home in the company of family members.

Treatment
Treatments for schizophrenia include:

Antipsychotic medication (including some herbal medicines)

Antidepressants

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

Social support, and

Community support

Advice & Support
Rethink (formerly the National Schizophrenia Fellowship)
89 Albert Embankment
London SE1 7TP
Tel: 0845 456 0455 (General enquiries)
Tel: 0207 840 3188 (National advice service)
Website: www.rethink.org
E-mail: advice@rethink.org

Mind (National Association for Mental Health)
15-19 Broadway
Stratford
London E15 4BQ
Tel: 0845 7660 163 (Mind Info Line)
Web: www.mind.org.uk
E-mail: info@mind.org.uk

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