Today is National Schizophrenia Awareness Day. On this annual event, people across the UK come together to shed light on schizophrenia, break the stigma and raise awareness for better mental health care. Through awareness and understanding, we can help break the stigma surrounding schizophrenia and extend a helping hand to those in need.
What is Schizophrenia?
At some time during their life, about 1 in 100 people will suffer an episode of schizophrenia (Royal College of Psychiatrists). Despite being so common, the stigma surrounding schizophrenia remains high due to a lack of understanding around the disorder.
Schizophrenia is a very complex condition that can affect how a person thinks, feels, and experiences the world around them. While the word is made up of schizo (to split) and phrene (the mind), schizophrenia does not mean split personality like it has historically been associated with – particularly in film and media.
Symptoms of schizophrenia can differ due to the different types of the condition, however most commonly include:
- Audio hallucinations (hearing voices).
- Disorganised thinking.
- Fast paced/difficult to understand speech.
- Changes in body language or emotions.
- Impaired social functioning.
Below are eight facts about schizophrenia that you may not know or might help you to better understand the often-misunderstood disorder.
The chance of developing schizophrenia is about one in 100.
There are many forms this can take, be it one episode or ongoing encounters, mild symptoms or very severe symptoms. Schizophrenia affects men and women alike and sufferers come from all walks of life and social backgrounds.
Schizophrenia can be experienced differently by different people.
Schizophrenia symptoms can vary significantly from person to person. Some individuals may have occasional episodes, while others may experience chronic symptoms.
Schizophrenia is a type of psychosis, but is not psychosis itself.
Schizophrenia and psychosis are frequently viewed as interchangeable terms, but psychosis is actually an umbrella term that encompasses several conditions – including schizophrenia. Similarly, schizophrenia is not the same as dissociative identity disorder (DID). Schizophrenia involves a disconnection from reality and impaired cognitive functions, while DID involves the presence of two or more distinct personality states.
Biological factors play a role in the development of schizophrenia.
Research suggests that genetic and environmental factors contribute to the development of schizophrenia. However, the precise cause is still unknown.
Schizophrenia does not cause violence.
Films and media often depict people with schizophrenia as violent. But schizophrenia is not characterised by violence. In fact, people with schizophrenia are more likely to harm themselves than others or to be victims of violence than perpetrators.
Treatment is available.
While schizophrenia can be a chronic condition, it is treatable. With proper medication, therapy, and support, many individuals with schizophrenia can lead rewarding and fulfilling lives.
Schizophrenia runs in families.
If you have a parent or sibling with schizophrenia, you are pre-disposed to suffer from it yourself. With that being said, this doesn’t guarantee you will develop schizophrenia. You might have a slightly higher risk, but scientists don’t believe genes are solely responsible for schizophrenia.
Parenting is not to blame for the development of schizophrenia.
Mothers, in particular, often get blamed when a child is diagnosed with schizophrenia, however, schizophrenia is a mental health condition. It has many causes, including genes, trauma, and drug abuse. Mistakes you’ve made as a parent won’t give your child this condition.
Everyone’s experience of schizophrenia is unique: it is a hugely complex and varied condition. Different people’s support needs vary hugely.
If you would like to find out more about schizophrenia or wish to seek support relating to the condition, please see below for a list of resources we think you will find useful:
Advice and support for anyone who provides care.
- Hearing Voices Network
Information and support for people who hear voices or have other unshared perceptions, including local support groups.
- Hub of Hope
UK-wide mental health service database. This service enables you to search for local, national, peer, community, charity, private and NHS mental health support. You can filter results to find specific kinds of support.
- National Paranoia Network
Information and support for people who experience paranoid thoughts.
- Rethink Mental Illness
Provides support and information for anyone affected by mental health problems, including local support groups.
- Royal College of Psychiatrists
Professional body for psychiatrists. Includes information about mental health problems and treatments.