Schizophrenia is a long term mental disorder that causes the mind to experience periods of dysfunction and disorder. It is commonly misconceived that people with schizophrenia have split personalities and violent tendencies however this is not often the case.
Experts believe that the condition is caused by a combination of environmental and genetic factors. Brain development inhibition due to problems in pregnancy or birth may be a factor, so may the use of drugs and alcohol or severe stress.
‘Positive’ symptoms of hallucinations, delusions, thought disorder and feelings of being controlled are most common with some less obvious ‘negative’ symptoms such as loss of energy, lack of concentration, difficulty looking after oneself occurring in some cases.
In schizophrenia the most common hallucination is hearing voices although hallucinations of smell, taste or being touched can also occur. A delusion is a belief held with complete conviction that is not based on reality and contradicted by the evidence around you. Sometimes paranoid delusions can occur which make you feel persecuted or harassed.
Without any help or treatment, many people with schizophrenia can feel depressed with the associated symptoms.
The first line of treatment is medication in the form of anti-psychotics. These will weaken delusions and hallucinations and help improve thought processes and increase motivation to live life. There are side effects associated with this type of medication so it is important to ensure you work with your consultant psychiatrist or GP to manage them.
To give the best chance of recovery, some form of talking therapy will be helpful to allow you to feel better about yourself and to learn new ways of solving problems. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy can be undertaken by a clinical psychologist who will also be able to offer supportive psychotherapy to provide support with the daily issues you face.