What is schizophrenia


Schizophrenia is a severe mental health disorder that affects people's thinking, feeling and behaviour.  It will affect 1 in 100 people in the course of their life.  It affects men and women equally and starts most often between the ages of 16 and early adulthood.

Schizophrenia is characterized by distortions in thinking, perception, emotions, language, sense of self and behaviour. Common experiences include hearing voices and delusions.

Symptoms of schizophrenia:  

Most people have a combination of "positive" and "negative" symptoms and they vary from individual to individual.

"Positive” symptoms include:


    Hallucinations - hearing, smelling, feeling or seeing something that isn’t there. Hearing voices is the most common problem.

    Delusions - believing something completely even though others find your ideas strange

    Difficulty thinking – the person finds it hard to concentrate and others can find it hard to understand what they are saying.

    Feeling controlled – the person can may feel their body and mind are taken over and controlled by someone else.

“Negative” symptoms include:


Loss of interest, energy and emotions, which can result in poor hygiene, not getting out of the house and not engaging with other people.Most people have a mixture of positive and negative symptoms. If someone just has negative symptoms. the problem may not be recognised for years.

Loss of insight, the person may feel everyone is wrong and the world is against them.

Causes of schizophrenia

 No one cause has been identified yet and it is thought a combination of factors contributes to a person becoming psychotic. Genes play in around 10% of cases.

There is no known cure for schizophrenia but with the help of antipsychotic medication, psychological therapies and social support a person can have a good quality of life.  Many people can and do recover from schizophrenia and psychosis.

For more information read our pamphlets