What is Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is still one of the most misunderstood mental illnesses, with many false ideas and stigma surrounding the disorder. It is an illness of the brain that affects how a person perceives the world, thinks, and behaves. Having schizophrenia does not mean that you have multiple personalities.

Many people also mistakenly believe that people with schizophrenia are violent and dangerous, but this is not true. In fact, people with psychotic disorders like schizophrenia are much more likely to be the victim of a violent crime than to commit one. Psychosis means ‘to break from reality’, and that’s exactly what schizophrenia is – a mental disorder that causes the individual to have difficulty distinguishing what is real from what is not. Although schizophrenia is a psychotic illness, psychosis can also occur in other mental disorders, such as: bipolar disorder, depression, or as a result of taking drugs or alcohol.

General symptoms of schizophrenia to look out for.

  • 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
  • Confused thinking and difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling paranoid, believe that people are watching you or are out to get you.
  • Isolating yourself from friends or family
  • Not paying attention to personal hygiene
  • Facial expressions appearing ‘flat’ and expressionless

Causes of Schizophrenia

As with most mental disorders, there are a number of possible factors that could lead to someone developing schizophrenia.

On a physical level schizophrenia has been is linked to structural and functional abnormalities in the brain. The regions of the brain that control and coordinate thinking, perceptions and behaviours are not functioning properly, making it difficult for the affected person to filter and process information.

Schizophrenia can have a genetic component, and having a close relative with the disorder may increase a person’s chances of developing it, although this is not true in all cases.

Recent research has also suggested that significant use of marijuana may trigger the onset of schizophrenia in youth who are at risk for the illness. Young people with immediate family member with schizophrenia should always avoid using marijuana or other drugs.y of life.

Can Schizophrenia be treated?


There are a number of treatment options for schizophrenia. Once a diagnosis has been made by a mental health professional, they will work with you to determine which course of action is appropriate for your individual case. Early diagnosis of the disorder, together with appropriate treatment is very important for reducing the impact of schizophrenia on the individual. During severe episodes of psychosis, a person with schizophrenia may need to be hospitalized in order for them to stabilize. They should leave the hospital with a treatment plan that will minimize their symptoms and help them to have a good quality of life.

Treatment will include:

  • Medication to help the brain correct the functioning of its cognitive and emotional control circuits. The most common medications prescribed for schizophrenia are anti-psychotic medications. Once your symptoms are under control, you still need to continue taking medication, otherwise the symptoms will return.
  • Psychological treatments such as psychotherapy or ‘talk therapy’ works by teaching you to better control your thoughts and emotions.
  • Healthy regular routine is very important for a person with schizophrenia. Getting enough sleep, following a healthy diet, abstaining from drugs and alcohol and getting regular exercise will all help you in managing your symptoms.

If you are needing a referral to a psychologist, psychiatrist or support group, please can you call The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) on 011 234 4837 or 0800 20 50 26 and speak to a trained counselor who can assist you further.

© Copyright 2020 Headspace Mental Health Movement - All Rights Reserved

Designed with ‌

Offline Website Maker