What is schizophrenia?

• Schizophrenia is a brain disorder that keeps you from thinking clearly. It can

cause you to see or hear things that aren't there, or to believe things that aren't


What are the symptoms of schizophrenia?

• Schizophrenia can cause:

o Positive symptoms – In this case, "positive" does not mean "good."

Positive symptoms are abnormal experiences or behaviours that

occur because of schizophrenia. Examples of positive symptoms


▪ Hallucinations – Hallucinations are when you hear, see, feel,

smell, or taste things that aren't there. For example, people with

schizophrenia often hear voices in their head telling them to do

things when there isn't really anyone talking.

▪ Delusions – Delusions are when you believe things that are not

true. For example, people with schizophrenia sometimes believe

that they are a famous person who is dead.

▪ Disorganized thinking or speech – People with schizophrenia

have trouble thinking in an organized way. They can talk a lot

about many things before getting to the point. Sometimes, they

make up words or say things that do not make any sense.

o Negative symptoms – In this case, "negative" does not mean "bad."

Negative symptoms are normal behaviors that stop because of

schizophrenia. Examples of negative symptoms include:

▪ Not showing much emotion and not changing your facial


▪ Not moving or talking much

▪ Not taking showers or keeping clean

▪ Not having much interest in spending time with people or having


o Cognitive symptoms – Cognitive symptoms are symptoms that affect

thinking and memory. People with schizophrenia have trouble:

▪ Learning and remembering

▪ Understanding speech or other forms of communication

▪ Making sense of new information

▪ Solving problems

o Emotional symptoms – People with schizophrenia often also have

symptoms of anxiety or depression.

Is there a test for schizophrenia?

• No. There is no test. But your doctor or nurse should be able to tell if you

have it by learning about your symptoms and doing an exam. Your doctor

might need to do tests to make sure that your symptoms are not caused by a

different medical problem.

Get help right away if you are thinking of hurting or killing yourself!

• If you ever feel like you might hurt yourself or someone else, help is


• ●Call your doctor or nurse, and tell them that it is an emergency.

• ●Call for an ambulance (call 997).

• ●Go to the emergency department at your local hospital.

How is schizophrenia treated?

• Schizophrenia is treated with medicines that help control symptoms and with

different types of counselling and support.

• The medicines for schizophrenia often reduce symptoms, but they take some

getting used to. Sometimes, people need to try a few different medicines

before finding the ones that work best and cause the fewest problems.

• The medicines used to treat schizophrenia can cause uncomfortable side

effects. If your medicines cause side effects, tell your doctor. They might be

able to lower your dose, switch you to a different medicine, or help manage

the side effects in other ways.

• To keep schizophrenia under control, you usually must take medicines for

the rest of your life. It's important to take them exactly as directed. Otherwise,

your symptoms could get worse.

• It can also be useful for you and your family to take part in a type of

psychotherapy, or counselling, called "family psychoeducation." This

program can teach you and your loved ones some important concepts and

skills, such as:

o That schizophrenia is a biological illness and not anyone's fault

o Ways to keep your condition from getting worse

o Ways to deal with your symptoms so that they are less stressful

o Other types of psychotherapy might also help.

What if I want to get pregnant?

• If you want to get pregnant, talk to your doctor before you start trying. Most

people with schizophrenia need to keep taking medicines before and during

pregnancy. But some people need to switch to medicines that are less likely

to cause problems for the baby.

• You might be tempted to stop taking your medicines to protect your baby.

But doing that could actually do more harm than good. People who stop their

medicines before or during pregnancy often get severe schizophrenia

symptoms and then need more medicines than they would have if they had

stayed on medicines in the first place.

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