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Medically reviewed by Last updated on May 1, 2023.

What is schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a chronic mental disorder that affects your emotions, thinking, and behavior. Your brain has a hard time knowing what is real.

What increases my risk for schizophrenia?

Healthcare providers do not exactly know what causes schizophrenia. Providers believe that it is caused by chemicals, in your brain, not being balanced. Stressful events or accidents may trigger symptoms. The following may increase your risk:

  • You have a family member with schizophrenia.
  • You were exposed to substances such as amphetamines and opiates.

What are the signs and symptoms of schizophrenia?

Symptom can get worse over time. Symptoms can also come and go.

  • Delusions are false ideas. You may believe that someone is spying on you, or that you are someone famous.
  • Hallucinations happen when you see, feel, taste, hear, or smell something that is not real.
  • Disordered thinking and speech is moving from one subject to another in a way that does not make sense. You may make up your own words or sounds.
  • Extremely disorganized or abnormal movement can include a lot of movement or movement that is not necessary..
  • Lack of drive or initiative includes poor physical hygiene, avoiding family and friends, and not being able to function normally..

How is schizophrenia diagnosed and treated?

Your healthcare provider will examine you. Your provider will ask if you have a history of psychological trauma, such as physical, sexual, or mental abuse. Your provider will ask if you were given the care that you needed when you needed it. Tell your provider if you have a history of alcohol or drug abuse. Your provider will ask if you want to hurt or kill yourself or others. Tell your provider about your hobbies and goals, the people in your life who support you, and how you feel about treatment. The answers to these questions help healthcare providers plan your treatment. Antipsychotics help decrease psychotic symptoms and severe agitation. You may need antiparkinson medicine to control muscle stiffness, twitches, and restlessness caused by antipsychotic medicines.

Which therapies are used to treat schizophrenia?

  • Assertive community treatment includes a team of healthcare providers and support groups in your community that help you with your therapy.
  • Cognitive behavior therapy helps you to change certain behaviors. It will help you handle symptoms such as hallucinations and delusions.
  • Illness-management skills teach you what you can do to help manage your disease.
  • Family psychoeducation helps your family be a part of your therapy.
  • Social skills training helps you learn how to get along with other people.
  • Supported employment is a form of therapy that places you into a job that fits your skills. It will help give you independence and self-confidence.

Treatment options

The following list of medications are in some way related to or used in the treatment of this condition.

View more treatment options

How do I find support and more information?

  • National Alliance on Mental Illness
    3803 N. Fairfax Dr., Suite 100
    Arlington , VA 22203
    Phone: 1- 703 - 524-7600
    Phone: 1- 800 - 950-6264
    Web Address:
  • National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), Office of Science Policy, Planning, and Communications
    6001 Executive Boulevard, Room 6200, MSC 9663
    Bethesda , MD 20892-9663
    Phone: 1- 301 - 443-4513
    Phone: 1- 866 - 615-6464
    Web Address:

Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) if

  • You think about killing yourself or someone else.
  • You have a rash, swelling, or trouble breathing after you take your medicine.

When should I call my doctor?

  • You feel that you are having symptoms of schizophrenia.
  • You are not able to sleep well, or are sleeping more than usual.
  • You cannot eat or are eating more than usual.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© Copyright Merative 2023 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.