Find a psychiatrist


Treatment of schizophrenia

The best treatment for schizophrenia is a combination of medication, psychological treatment and community support.

To plan your treatment, your health-care team need to know all about your situation. As well as checking your symptoms and physical health, they will need to understand about your home, finances, and social life.

What works?

People with schizophrenia do best if they have:

  • medication and psychological treatment together – not just one or the other
  • medications to manage depression or anxiety, if needed
  • education about their illness (individual psychoeducation)
  • a supportive partner, family member or friends involved in their care
  • access to 24-hour crisis support
  • a mental health professional who takes care of planning and coordinating their individual care (case management)
  • support to find and keep a job or continue education
  • somewhere safe and affordable to live
  • support to maintain a healthy lifestyle.


Most people with schizophrenia will need medication as part of their treatment. Medication works best when it is combined with psychological treatment.

More about medication for schizophrenia

Psychological treatment

Psychological treatment (talking therapy) helps you live with schizophrenia and have the best possible quality of life.

For psychological treatment to work well, you need a good working relationship with your doctor or other therapist. You need to be able to trust them and stay hopeful about your recovery.

Types of psychological treatment for schizophrenia include cognitive behavioural therapy (usually called CBT), psychoeducation and family psychoeducation.

Cognitive behavioural therapy
Cognitive remediation

More about psychological treatments

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)

ECT is a safe and effective treatment. It can be effective when symptoms of schizophrenia are very severe.

If ECT is recommended as a treatment for you, your doctor should explain how it works and answer all your questions. You should be given written information explaining what will happen, how it feels, and your rights.

More about electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)

Why should I get treatment?

Effective treatment can help you:

  • overcome psychotic symptoms (e.g. delusions, hallucinations)
  • get back in control of your thoughts, emotions and behaviours
  • get back to school, study or work
  • keep your friendships and social life
  • stay healthy.

When should treatment start?

Getting help as soon as possible gives you the best chance of a good recovery, at any stage, including:

  • at the first signs of ongoing emotional distress or significant changes in behaviour (e.g. becoming socially withdrawn, thinking about suicide or attempting suicide) 
  • a first episode of psychosis – if you have hallucinations or delusions, even if you have never had psychosis before
  • during a relapse – when symptoms come back after you have been treated for schizophrenia.
Specialised programs for first-episode psychosis

Will I have to go to hospital?

People with schizophrenia usually don’t need long-term hospital treatment.

Your treating team may be able to visit you at home, and can support you during a crisis. If you are in recovery or remission, you can have treatment at regular appointments at a public hospital or a clinic.

There are some times when you may need a short stay in hospital:

  • if you are at risk of harming yourself or others
  • if you are extremely distressed by your symptoms
  • if you need a place away from things that cause stress and cause your symptoms
  • when your medication needs to be changed
  • if you need treatments that can only be given in hospital.

You may be frightened about going to hospital. You have the right to be treated with respect and to have things explained to you in a way you understand. You can ask for a family member or friend to stay with you while you are admitted and settled in. While you are staying in hospital, your family and friends can visit you there and spend time with you.

More about going to a psychiatric hospital

Page last reviewed Feb 2017 | C1036V1

This is a general guide only, and does not replace individual medical advice. Please speak to your doctor for advice about your situation. The RANZCP is not liable for any consequences arising from relying on this information. Subject matter experts, people with lived experience of mental illness and carers all contributed to this fact sheet.