Brought to you by Cipla

Brought to you by

Schizophrenia is a severe, complex and debilitating mental illness that affects many aspects of everyday functioning, including changes in how people function socially, intellectually and in their day-to-day, real-world activities where changes are often noticed before the first episode of illness. 1, 2, 3
For schizophrenia to be diagnosed, there need to be continuous signs of a disturbance for at least six months, which include at least one month where two or more the following symptoms are observed: 4, 5


Back to top

Delusions (false beliefs despite evidence which proves these wrong) 6
Hallucinations (sensory experiences not shared by anyone else. These may be heard, seen, smelled, tasted or felt) 6


Back to top
Lack or decline in emotional response
Lack or decline in speech
Disorganised speech 4
Grossly disorganised behaviour (e.g., dressing inappropriately, crying frequently, lack of self-care) 4
The disorder must cause social and/or occupational dysfunction 5


Back to top
Schizophrenia affects approximately one in every hundred people,4 with an estimated 29 million people affected worldwide.2 It normally occurs in the late teens or early adulthood, and is a life-long disease for most patients. 4
The incidence of schizophrenia peaks between 10 and 25 years for men and between 25 and 35 for women. Another peak, particularly among women, occurs in midlife: about 23% of people with schizophrenia experience their first episode after the age of 40. 7
Men have a 40% higher incidence of schizophrenia than women 4
Risk factors include: 4

  • Genetics (a family history of schizophrenia)
  • Environmental factors (such as birth complications, prematurity)
  • Having an older father
  • Infections during pregnancy
  • Serious viral infections of the central nervous system during childhood
  • A lifetime history of cannabis / marijuana use


Back to top
Schizophrenia is a difficult and challenging disease to treat and generally has a more unfavourable outcome than other disorders. 8
There are several predictors for poor outcome: 8, 9

  • Male
  • Injury during pregnancy or birth injury
  • Early onset in life
  • Severe hallucinations and delusions
  • Severe lack of attention
  • Inability to express emotion
  • Poor functioning before the onset of the illness
  • Long length of time that the mental disorder goes untreated
  • Unstable emotional environment


Back to top
An earlier age at onset has been linked to more severe behavioural disturbance as well as greater social disability.7 Nearly 50% of people with schizophrenia have a substance-abuse-related disorder at some point during their illness.4
Schizophrenia has an estimated suicide risk of 4–5%, with the highest risk during the first year after diagnosis. Many of the suicides occur during hospital admission or soon after discharge. 4 The risk of suicide remains over a long period of time. 4
Schizophrenia disrupts interpersonal relationships and family structures, and has significant direct economic costs to society. 5


Back to top
Many people with schizophrenia have a long duration of illness; and characteristically they lack insight into their illness and have frequent readmissions and relapses.2 Active and early intervention can improve long term outcomes. 5
While treatment, with the appropriate medication remains the mainstay of therapy, psychosocial interventions are crucial in promoting recovery and improving quality of life. 5
People who have their first episode will be on medication for a minimum of one year provided: 5
  • They are symptom-free
  • The episode is mild
  • They respond well to treatment.

If the episode is severe or they respond slowly, treatment can last for up to two years. 5 People who already have their second-episode require at least two to five years of medication while symptom-free, while patients who have had three or more episodes should be treated for life. 5


Back to top
It is very important for people with schizophrenia to take their medication continuously. 10 This is particularly challenging as many lack insight into their illness and frequently relapse. 2
Approximately 50% of all patients who stop taking their medication will relapse within 6 – 10 months, compared to one-fifth who stay on treatment. 5, 10 Long-term antipsychotic treatment reduces the risk of relapse over several years by two-thirds. 5, 10


Back to top
In order to manage with the diagnosis in the best possible way, it is important to gain an understanding of schizophrenia in terms of: 9, 11

  • The nature of the illness, as well as it course and possible outcomes
  • The importance of staying on treatment
  • Signs of relapse
  • Coping strategies
  • Setting of realistic goals
  • It is also important to make contact with services within your community who can assist you. 9


Back to top
The first step to effective long term treatment is to discuss your symptoms with your general practitioner or a healthcare professional at your local day clinic or hospital.

For more health information

Click on the body area you want to know more about. Select a related health topic from the menu

Select a body area
Mental Health
Infant Health
HIV 11 – HIV and Opportunistic infections
HIV 11 – HIV and Opportunistic infections
Doctors were first alerted to the existence of AIDS when patients clinically presented with opportunistic ....
Acne (Pimples)
Acne (Pimples)
What is acne? Acne is a common skin condition that causes pimples on the face, neck, shoulders, chest and back.1a It can be emotionally stressful ....

Related Brochures


WHAT IS IT? Bipolar disorder (also known as BD) is a severe lifelong mood disorder causing alternating episodes of “highs” [elevated mood or mania] and “lows” [depressed mood]. 1, 2 There are two types of Bipolar disorder. Bipolar I disorder affects men and women equally, while bipolar II disorder is more common in women. 2 BIPOLAR I…

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder – OCD

WHAT IS OBSESSIVE-COMPULSIVE DISORDER (OCD)? Have you ever heard someone casually refer to themselves as OCD because they like to do things in a precise and orderly way? ‘OCD’ is often misunderstood and the term is misused as a synonym for uptight, fussy, hard to please, overly neat, or too precise.1 However, OCD is a…

Anxiety Disorder

WHAT IS GAD? A sufferer typically: Experiences relentless and exaggerated anxiety in the absence of valid concerns, which can be debilitating Is prone to always expect the worst Blows things out of proportion Grapples with all-consuming fear and dread to the point of it interfering with their ability to live a normal life