What is schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia is a severe long-term mental health condition. It causes a range of different psychological symptoms.
Doctors often describe schizophrenia as a type of psychosis. This means the person may not always be able to distinguish their own thoughts and ideas from reality.
Symptoms of schizophrenia
Symptoms of schizophrenia include:
- hallucinations – hearing or seeing things that don’t exist
- delusions – unusual beliefs not based on reality
- muddled thoughts based on hallucinations or delusions
- changes in behaviour
Some people think schizophrenia causes a “split personality” or violent behaviour. This is not true.
The cause of any violent behaviour is usually drug or alcohol misuse.
Read about symptoms of schizophrenia.
On this page
If you’re experiencing symptoms of schizophrenia, see your GP as soon as possible. If your GP agrees, they will refer you to our services so you can be assessed and given help and support. The earlier schizophrenia is treated, the better.
There’s no single test for schizophrenia. It’s usually diagnosed after an assessment by a mental health care professional, such as a psychiatrist.
Treatment for schizophrenia
How we may help, and some of the treatments on offer.
Schizophrenia is usually treated with a combination of medication and therapy tailored to each individual. In most cases, this will be anti-psychotic medicines and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).
People with schizophrenia usually receive help from a community mental health team, which offers day-to-day support and treatment.
Many people recover from schizophrenia, although they may have periods when symptoms return (relapses). Support and treatment can help reduce the impact the condition has on daily life.
Read about treating schizophrenia.
Living with schizophrenia
If schizophrenia is well managed, it’s possible to reduce the chance of severe relapses.
This can include:
- recognising the signs of an acute episode
- taking medication as prescribed
- talking to others about the condition
There are many charities and support groups offering help and advice on living with schizophrenia. Most people find it comforting talking to others with a similar condition.
Read about living with schizophrenia.
Our teams and services
Where to find us, and which services can help you.
Living with a mental health condition
Information for patients and carers on the wider aspects of living with a mental health condition.
Mental illness can affect many areas of your life. This section has information on many aspects of your daily life, from physical health to work, education and recovery. Select an area below to learn more:
Five Ways to Wellbeing
- Connect with people - your family, friends, colleagues and neighbours. Speaking to people over the telephone or online can help, but there’s nothing like being in the company of others to boost your mood.
- Get active - take a walk, go cycling, join a dance class, go swimming or play a game of football. Find an activity that you enjoy and make it a part of your life. Anything that raises your heart rate – even cleaning the house – can help.
- Keep learning – give yourself a sense of achievement and a new confidence. Why not sign up for that cooking course, start learning to play a musical instrument, learn a new language, or figure out how to fix your bike?
- Give - even the smallest act can count - whether it's a smile, a thank you or a kind word. Larger acts, such as volunteering at your local community centre, can improve your mental wellbeing and help you make new friends.
- Be mindful - be more aware of the present moment, including your feelings and thoughts, your body and the world around you. Some people call this awareness ‘mindfulness’ and it can positively change the way you feel about life and how you approach challenges.
These are proven techniques to help boost your general wellbeing and they are things we can all incorporate into our daily lives. If you want to make your mental health and wellbeing a priority, following these steps is a good place to start.
Drugs and alcohol
Support in Gloucestershire
CGL Gloucestershire is a free and confidential drug and alcohol service for adults (including offenders), families, carers and affected others. They provide information, support, advice and treatment options from three main hubs across the county - Cheltenham, Gloucester and Stroud. They also work from a range of other locations including pharmacies and community venues. https://www.changegrowlive.org/content/cgl-gloucestershire
Support in Herefordshire
Addaction Herefordshire offers information, advice and support for people with drug and alcohol issues every weekday, and on alternative Saturdays. There is a young people’s service for those aged 11+. Their recovery-focused service has bases in Hereford as well as outreach via partner organisations. They aim to support people to overcome their issues and develop the skills necessary to go on to live a fulfilling life in recovery. They also support the families of people with substance misuse issues. www.addaction.org.uk/services/addaction-herefordshire
Money and mental health
Money and mental health are often linked. Poor mental health can make managing money harder and worrying about money can make your mental health worse. This website gives information about the relationship between money worries and mental health, with suggestions on how to address them.
The Money Advice Service is also a good source of information and support around money and debt.
- your name
- date of birth
- any other information which would help locate your file
Please note: there may be a charge for this service. If you think that information in your health records may not be accurate, please notify us in writing.
Pregnancy and mental health
Taking your medication whilst pregnant
If you are on medication, or specific medication has been suggested to you, the Best Use of Medicines in Pregnancy (BUMPS) website is a helpful resource. This free service gives the most up-to-date, evidence-based information for women and their families. This website is an excellent resource but please still discuss any medication changes with your doctor.
Did you know?
- Smoking is the primary reason for the 10 to 20 year shortened life expectancy for people with a mental health disorder. Smoking causes cancer, cardio vascular disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- People with mental health conditions consume 42 per cent of all tobacco bought in the UK
- Many think smoking is a mood enhancer - in fact it causes depression, stress and anxiety
- Smokers have a 79 per cent increased risk of being diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease
These are just some of the reasons why cutting down or giving up smoking altogether can have a huge impact on improving your health and wellbeing.
How to get help quitting
- If you are one of our service users, ask to speak to a Smokefree Champion or Quit Advisor
- If you live in Gloucestershire, visit hlsglos.org or ring 0800 122 3788
- You can also call the national Smokefree helpline on 0800 022 4332 (Monday to Friday 9am to 8pm, Saturday and Sunday 11am to 5pm)
- GPs can provide advice and prescriptions for nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products and most surgeries have nurses who offer a stop smoking service
- The national Smokefree website includes a wide range of support options and advice
Information for professionals
Notes on services, contacts and treatments for healthcare professionals.
Referral information for Gloucestershire GPs and Healthcare Practitioners
Referral information for Herefordshire GPs and Healthcare Practitioners
News and views
News stories linked to schizophrenia and related conditions.
We are participating in a research study providing online support for carers of people with psychosis. The study, called COPe (Carers for People with Psychosis E-Support) is being run by St George's University of London. There are 10 sites participating nationally,...read more
Writing is more than a hobby; it helps with so many areas of my life. I believe, and I’ve been told, that I am good at it. I’ve written two books about my experiences of mental illness which I hope to publish one day. I’ve also started writing short stories about...read more
When I was in Laurel House, a recovery unit in Cheltenham, a couple of years ago, my mood would fluctuate dramatically, often even within a single day. It would follow my own beliefs. When I believed I had a great philosophical theory I was very happy. When my...read more
My jobs are very important to me. They help with my confidence, self-esteem and give me a sense of achievement, structure, routine and a reason to get out of bed in the morning. Most of all, I no longer feel like an outsider. I used to feel as though the world of the...read more
A blog post from Ed, who talks about his recovery following episodes of inpatient treatment for schizophrenia.read more
Ed’s mental illness started when he was 18-years-old and went to university. He went on to become very unwell, but a combination of support and medication has meant he has, in his own words, “got his identity back”. Ed explained more: “I started university and...read more
GRiP stands for Gloucestershire Recovery in Psychosis and we work with young people aged between 14 and 35 who are experiencing or who are at risk of experiencing a first episode of psychosis. GRiP is sometimes called ‘the early intervention service’ and our...read more
Be on the ball about men’s mental healthread more
Men Urged to Talk Mental Healthread more