Schizophrenia (skit·suh·free·nee·uh)

SchizophreniaThere’s a strong public perception that people experiencing schizophrenia are likely to be violent, even though this isn’t true. Film & TV depictions of violent killers are often labelled with a false, highly damaging idea of psychosis or schizophrenia. Some people react fearfully or judgmentally when they learn a person has a psychotic illness.

Stigma hurts, but you can protect yourself against false perceptions by learning as much as you can about it from reputable sources, and by talking with other people who have experienced schizophrenia.

  • Schizophrenia is a complex brain disorder, which affects between 150,000 and 200,000 Australians.
  • Sufferers do not have ‘split personalities’ and they are not intellectually disabled.
  • Antipsychotic medications treat the psychotic symptoms, but do not cure the disease.

Schizophrenia is a complex brain disorder, which affects about one in a 100 or between 150,000 and 200,000 Australians. The illness is characterised by disruptions to thinking and emotions, and a distorted perception of reality. It usually begins in late adolescence or early adulthood and does not spare any race, culture, class or sex.

About 20 to 30 per cent of people with schizophrenia experience only a few brief episodes. For others, it is a chronic condition. Ten per cent of people with schizophrenia commit suicide.

Schizophrenia Symptoms include:

Hallucinations
Delusions
Thought disorder
Social withdrawal
Lack of motivation
‘Blunted’ emotions
Inappropriate responses
Impaired thinking and memory
Lack of insight.

Not all people affected by schizophrenia have all these symptoms. Some symptoms appear only for short periods or ‘episodes’.