Man with head in hands suffering schizophrenia

Understanding schizophrenia

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People with schizophrenia are among the most highly stigmatised and socially marginalised people in our community. We’re working to reduce the stigma by answering some common questions and busting myths.


What is psychosis?

Psychosis is an umbrella term that covers a range of conditions including schizophrenia. Psychosis is a debilitating condition that compromises the ability to carry out normal everyday activities.


What is schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a chronic mental illness that affects your thoughts, behaviour and perception. People with schizophrenia may have trouble distinguishing between what is real and what is not.


What are the symptoms of schizophrenia?

People with schizophrenia may experience two or more of the following symptoms:

  1. Delusions – fixed beliefs that are implausible
  2. Hallucinations – experiencing things that no one else is hearing, seeing, tasting, touching or smelling
  3. Disorganised thinking – not connecting thoughts logically, speech is difficult to follow
  4. Abnormal movement – includes catatonia
  5. Negative symptoms – reduced facial expressions, low motivation, inability to enjoy once-liked activities, and social withdrawal


Do people with schizophrenia have multiple or split personalities?

No. People with schizophrenia may have delusions and hallucinations or other psychotic symptoms, but they do not have more than one personality.


Are people who have schizophrenia violent?

Violence is not a symptom of schizophrenia. Unfortunately, in popular culture people with schizophrenia are often depicted as violent. The reality is that people with schizophrenia are more likely to harm themselves than others.


How common is schizophrenia?

Around one in a hundred people will develop schizophrenia. Schizophrenia typically affects those in their late teens to mid-twenties.


Can you treat schizophrenia?

There are treatments for schizophrenia. These may include medication, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), mindfulness-based treatments, and psycho-education to identify the early warning signs. Many people who live with the condition go on to live productive and successful lives.


Are there other complications related to schizophrenia?

People with schizophrenia generally have a shorter life expectancy than the general population. Their lives may be up to 19 years shorter as they are at greater risk of having other health issues (e.g. heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, weight gain). People with schizophrenia are 12 times more likely to die from suicide than the general population.

Research also suggests that 68% of people with schizophrenia have not participated in social activities in the previous year, citing stigma as a barrier to participation.


If you are worried about yourself or someone you know, a GP can help with an initial assessment. After that, your GP can refer you to a specialist. The earlier schizophrenia is diagnosed, the better a chance for recovery.


If you or someone you know needs support, please reach out to one of our counselling services.

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Our professional counsellors are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.