What is Schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a serious mental illness that affects the way that one thinks, feels, and makes decisions. The disorder may cause the individual to “lose touch” with reality, which can lead to serious distress and impairment in daily life.

Schizophrenia affects less than 1% of the population, making it not nearly as common as other mental health disorders. Onset of the disorder usually occurs in one’s twenties, but may occur later or even slightly before. 

Although schizophrenia is a serious and complex illness, treatment has been proven beneficial for many.


The signs and symptoms of schizophrenia vary by person, but they commonly include:

  • Delusions cause false beliefs that are not based on reality. Common delusions include feeling like oneself is being harassed or harmed by others. 
  • Hallucinations usually involve seeing or hearing something that does not exist. However, hallucinations can affect any sense. The hallucinations are typically vivid and indistinguishable from reality.
  • Disorganized thinking can often be heard through disorganized speech. One may have a hard time answering questions and communicating effectively.
  • Abnormal behavior may occur and can cause anything from “child-like” silliness to unpredictable agitation. Behavior symptoms may also include excessive movement, unusual posture, and catatonia.


Many symptoms of schizophrenia can often be relieved or lessened through treatment. In addition, treatment can help improve one’s ability to function in day-to-day life. A health care provider can create a treatment plan suited to you and your specific needs. Treatment plans may include a combination of:

  • Medication
    • Antipsychotics are the most commonly used medications to treat schizophrenia. They can help decrease symptoms and improve functioning. With antipsychotics, and any medication, it is important to take note and tell your doctor of any side effects you may experience.
    • Antipsychotics are usually taken daily in a pill or liquid form. Some antipsychotic medications may also be given monthly through an injection.  
  • Psychosocial Treatments
    • Psychosocial treatments can help one manage symptoms and combat everyday challenges. These treatments are often in addition to medication. Specific psychosocial treatments include, but are not limited to, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), social skills training, assertive community treatment, and family therapy.

Crisis Help

If you or a loved one is in a crisis, it is important to get help immediately. If in danger of suicide:

  • Call 911
  • Go to the nearest emergency room
  • Call the toll-free, 24-hour hotline of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255); TTY: 1-800-799-4TTY (1-800-799-4889)

Learn More