How is schizophrenia diagnosed?
Psychiatrists diagnose schizophrenia based on a person’s symptoms and behaviour. They will only make a diagnosis after they have spent time with the person, carefully collected information and considered other possible causes.
Getting the correct diagnosis can be difficult and take time. Having hallucinations or delusions does not mean a person definitely has schizophrenia. Other medical conditions and other mental illnesses can cause similar symptoms.
There is no test for schizophrenia and no special sign that proves someone has it.
Tests such as brain scans are sometimes needed, to make sure the symptoms are not caused by other brain problems or medical conditions.
How is schizophrenia treated?
The best treatment for schizophrenia is a combination of medication, psychological treatment and community support.
More about treatment of schizophrenia
Recovery from schizophrenia
If a person with schizophrenia gets the right treatment and the support they need, they can manage their symptoms. Many people can lead full lives, even if they still have symptoms or relapses from time to time.
While there is currently no cure for schizophrenia, it can be treated effectively with medication and psychological treatment.
About 1 in 7 people with schizophrenia recover almost completely. Some people with schizophrenia only ever have one episode of psychosis and then recover well. Many have more than one episode, with good recovery or at least some recovery after each episode.
How does schizophrenia affect people?
It is not possible to predict how schizophrenia will affect someone’s life, because the symptoms, severity and pattern of illness over time differ widely between people. The impact of the illness also depends on the treatment and support they get to recover and stay well.
The risk of being unable to work or live independently is higher when schizophrenia remains untreated for a long time or when a person does not get support to continue friendships and normal activities.
Other health problems for people with schizophrenia
People with schizophrenia often have other problems with their mental health and physical health. These can include:
- anxiety and depression
- problems with drug and alcohol use
- health problems caused by smoking
- physical health problems.
More information on staying physically healthy
Suicide is one of the main causes of death for people with schizophrenia. This is mainly because they can experience severe depression, especially in the early stages of the illness. Treatment aims to overcome depression and keep the person safe.
More about feeling suicidal