What is Schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a mental illness that affects how the brain works. People with schizophrenia experience psychosis, which means they can have serious problems with thinking clearly, emotions, and knowing what is real and what is not.This can include hearing or seeing things that are not there (hallucinations), and having very strange beliefs that are abnormal or not true (delusions).Having psychosis often makes a person want to keep away from other people. They may have problems understanding other people’s emotions, and may feel depressed or irritable.Other illnesses similar to schizophrenia include schizoaffective disorder and schizophreniform disorder.While there is currently no cure for schizophrenia, it can be treated effectively with medication and psychological treatment.

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Symptoms of Schizophrenia

Symptoms vary from person to person, and commonly include:

  • hearing or seeing things that are not real (hallucinations)
  • having very strange beliefs (delusions)
  • unusual thinking and speech
  • having problems thinking clearly
  • not being able to make decisions and having trouble making plans
  • having trouble interpreting other people’s emotions and motives
  • suicidal thoughts.

Some symptoms are described as ‘positive’ and others as ‘negative’.Common ‘positive’ symptoms are hallucinations and delusions. (These are called ‘positive’ because they are extra experiences that are not part of normal experience).Common ‘negative’ symptoms are: a loss of enjoyment of things, being unable to feel emotions, loss of interest in being with other people, and not being bothered to do anything. (These are called ‘negative’ because something is missing).

Source: RANZCP website

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