Explains schizophrenia, including possible causes and how you can access treatment and support. Includes tips for helping yourself, and guidance for friends and family.
You could be diagnosed with schizophrenia if you experience some of the following symptoms:
"I have bizarre delusions which include psychic battles in which people around me can be perceived as either 'good' or 'evil'. Sometimes I am in a different time zone or move between periods of history in different lives."
Many experiences and behaviours can be part of schizophrenia. They can start suddenly for some people, while others find that they develop gradually over time.
Each person's experience of schizophrenia is unique to them, but you might find that you:
"Sometimes I feel thoughts are being put in my head and that people are reading my thoughts."
Watch Alice, Brian, Jamie, Martin and Louise talk about their experiences of living with schizophrenia.
"What was real and what was not? I couldn’t tell the difference any longer and it was exhausting."
Many people have heard of schizophrenia, but this doesn't mean that they understand the diagnosis. You might find that some people have negative ideas about schizophrenia or have misconceptions about you.
A diagnosis of schizophrenia does not mean someone has a 'split personality', but many people wrongly think this. Some people think hearing voices means someone is dangerous, when voices are actually more likely to suggest that you harm yourself than someone else. It's also important to remember that people have a choice in whether they do what the voices say.
Views on schizophrenia have changed over the years. Lots of people have questioned whether schizophrenia is actually one condition or a few different conditions that overlap.
Some people argue that because psychiatric experts cannot agree on the exact definition of schizophrenia, it shouldn't be used as a diagnosis at all. Others think the name of the condition doesn't matter and that it would be more useful to focus on what helps with specific symptoms and individual needs.
The reality is that many people are still given a diagnosis of schizophrenia. If you are one of them, it might be helpful to think of a diagnosis as a tool for treating what you're currently experiencing, rather than a definite condition or label that you will have to live with forever.
Some people find getting a diagnosis helpful and some don't. For more about diagnosis, see our information on seeking help for a mental health problem.
"More recently my symptoms have included voices outside my head, feelings that people are talking about me and spying on me."
If you find that people don't understand or know about schizophrenia, you could:
This information was published in February 2017. We will revise it in 2020.
References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information, see our page on permissions and licensing.