Schizophrenia is a chronic (long-term) psychotic (loss of touch with reality) disorder. It can be hereditary, occur on its own or be precipitated by substance abuse, especially cannabis. These predisposing factors cause ‘misfirings’ in the brain causing you to experience things that are not real. Features of schizophrenia may include hearing voices that other people do not hear, seeing things that other people do not see or having magical ideas (for example that you possess special powers) or paranoid ideas (a family member is trying to poison you). As the thoughts get more ‘jumbled’, you become completely consumed by your own thoughts and lose touch with your own world. This often causes a major decline in functioning and causes you to act on these ‘odd’ thoughts or voices.
Antipsychotic medication is essential in treating schizophrenia. It will help settle the ‘misfirings’ in your brain and resets your brain chemistry. If symptoms are severe or the diagnosis is unclear, you may need a temporary admission to hospital. In addition to medication, it is important to address any substance abuse, manage stressors, re-establish sleep/ wake cycles and therapy to understand the disease and support you going forward.