What is schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia is a condition where your experience does not match up with reality as other people see it - a symptom called psychosis. In schizophrenia you may have developed 'psychotic' symptoms.
For example, you might see, hear or believe things that for other people are not true. You can also feel muddled, low or withdrawn.
Schizophrenia is a serious illness, but it can be treated. It usually appears between the ages of 15 and 35. The cause is unknown, but you're more likely to experience it if a parent has it, or if you've had brain damage, drug and alcohol problems, or difficulties at home.
Having schizophrenia does not mean you have a 'split personality' or that you are violent.
The symptoms of schizophrenia
Other people might notice symptoms before you do, because the condition means you don't always know what's real. Symptoms include:
- hallucinations where you see, feel, smell or hear things that aren't there
- delusions, where you 'just know' things that seem unreal to other people, e.g. paranoid beliefs that there is a conspiracy against you
- muddled thinking and difficulty concentrating
- a feeling that you're being controlled by something outside yourself
- not feeling up to normal activities like washing, dressing or seeing friends.
Just because you experience one or more of these symptoms, it doesn’t mean you’re definitely affected by schizophrenia. It’s important to talk to your GP to get a full diagnosis.
What to do about schizophrenia
Although it sounds scary, schizophrenia is the most common serious mental health condition and can be successfully treated.
If you think you are affected by schizophrenia, talk to someone straight away. Choose someone you like and trust, like a teacher, relative, counsellor or friend.
You should also see your GP. They may offer to refer you to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), an expert or a psychiatrist who can help you.
You might also be offered cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), other types of therapy or support through family intervention.
YoungMinds Crisis Messenger
Provides free, 24/7 text support for young people across the UK experiencing a mental health crisis.
All texts are answered by trained volunteers, with support from experienced clinical supervisors.
Texts are free from EE, O2, Vodafone, 3, Virgin Mobile, BT Mobile, GiffGaff, Tesco Mobile and Telecom Plus.
Texts can be anonymous, but if the volunteer believes you are at immediate risk of harm, they may share your details with people who can provide support.
Text: YM to 85258
Opening times: 24/7
If you’re under 19 you can confidentially call, chat online or email about any problem big or small.
Can provide a BSL interpreter if you are deaf or hearing-impaired.
Hosts online message boards where you can share your experiences, have fun and get support from other young people in similar situations.
Phone: 0800 1111
Opening times: 9am - midnight, 365 days a year