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Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is long-term severe mental health condition causing symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions, disorganised thoughts and behaviour changes.

Schizophrenia does not cause a split personality and is not usually associated with violent behaviour.

Schizophrenia is a serious mental health condition affecting around 1 in 100 at some stage during their lives. Schizophrenia is usually diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 35.

Schizophrenia is usually treated with medication and specialist psychological therapy, often under the care of a local community mental health team or CMHT.

People can recover from schizophrenia, but relapses are possible.

Types of schizophrenia

There are several types of schizophrenia based on symptoms:

  • Paranoid schizophrenia. People with this type of schizophrenia are preoccupied with false beliefs (delusions) about being persecuted or being punished by someone. However, their thinking, speech and emotions remain fairly normal.
  • Disorganised schizophrenia. People with this type of schizophrenia often are confused and incoherent, and have jumbled speech. Their outward behaviour may be emotionless, flat or inappropriate, even silly or childlike. Often they have disorganised behaviour that may disrupt their ability to perform normal daily activities such as washing or preparing meals.
  • Catatonic schizophrenia. The most striking symptoms of this type of schizophrenia are physical ones. People with catatonic schizophrenia are generally immobile and unresponsive to the world around them. They often become very rigid and stiff, and unwilling to move. Occasionally, these people have peculiar movements like grimacing, or they may assume bizarre postures. They might repeat a word or phrase just spoken by another person. People with catatonic schizophrenia are at increased risk of malnutrition, exhaustion and self-inflicted injuries.
  • Undifferentiated schizophrenia. This type of schizophrenia is diagnosed when the person's symptoms do not clearly fall into one of the other types of schizophrenia.
  • Residual schizophrenia. With this type of schizophrenia, the severity of schizophrenia symptoms has decreased. Hallucinations, delusions and other symptoms may still be present but are considerably less than when the schizophrenia was originally diagnosed.

Symptoms of schizophrenia

Schizophrenia symptoms include:

  • Delusions. These are strange beliefs that are not based in reality and that the person refuses to give up, even when presented with factual information. For example, a person suffering from delusions may believe that people can hear his or her thoughts, or that people are putting thoughts into his or her head.
  • Hallucinations. These involve perceiving sensations that aren't real, such as seeing things that aren't there, hearing voices, smelling strange odours, having a strange taste in your mouth and feeling sensations on your skin even though nothing is touching your body. Hearing voices is the most common hallucination in people with schizophrenia. The voices may comment on the person's behaviour, insult the person or give commands. These are called auditory hallucinations.

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