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 You can also feel muddled, low or withdrawn.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.
Shruti's story: Living with schizophrenia
Hi, my name is Shruti, I’m 23, and I have been living with schizophrenia for almost two years.
I started having symptoms shortly after being to CAMHS. I started hallucinating and being delusional.
I first told my mum and she didn’t understand what was happening so she took me to a doctor. He told me I had anxiety and prescribed me some meds, which caused me to sleep all day – it felt as though I couldn’t stay awake.
Continue reading Shruti's story: Living with schizophrenia
You might also be offered cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), other types of therapy or support through family intervention.
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