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Schizophrenia: An Overview

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About schizophrenia

SchizophreniaSchizophrenia is a long term mental illness. The disease is characterised by positive and negative symptoms. The positive symptoms are those such as hallucinations and delusions, while negative symptoms include lack of emotion, limited speech and an inability to enjoy any activities. Treatments for schizophrenia include medications, electroconvulsive therapy and psychotherapy.

For more information on the condition, see Schizophrenia.

Schizophrenia videos

About schizophrenia

SchizophreniaPsychiatrist Zafar Sharif of Columbia University talks about schizophrenia and the challenges faced by patients with the condition.Watch the video About Schizophrenia.

Treating schizophrenia

SchizophreniaPsychiatrist Zafar Sharif of Columbia University talks about treatments for schizophrenia.Watch the video Treating Schizophrenia.

Caring for a loved one with schizophrenia

SchizophreniaPsychiatrist Zafar Sharif of Columbia University talks about caring for a loved one with schizophrenia.Watch the video Caring for a Loved One with Schizophrenia.

Schizophrenia animation

Schizophrenia and the brain

Schizophrenia and the brainSchizophrenia has a negative effect on the brain that worsens over time.Watch an animation of brain deficiencies due to schizophrenia over a five year period.

Living with schizophrenia

Living with schizophreniaPeople with schizophrenia commonly have disabilities in partner relationships, work roles, social withdrawal, household participation, general interests, self care and social friction. These disabilities are especially common among young and middle aged adults, and occur even in people responding to treatment for psychosis.

For more information, see Living with Schizophrenia.

Treatments for schizophrenia: Medications

Atypical antipsychotics

Atypical antipsychoticsAtypical antipsychotics provide relief from symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions or abnormal behaviour/thought, and also have sedative and tranquillising effects in very disturbed or aggressive patients. They are thought to be better than conventional antipsychotics in treating the negative symptoms of schizophrenia.

For more information, see Atypical Antipsychotics.

Conventional antipsychotics

Conventional antipsychoticsConventional antipsychotics provide relief from symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions or abnormal behaviour/thought. All conventional antipsychotics are thought to be equally effective when taken at an appropriate dose. Conventional antipsychotics reliably improve positive schizophrenia symptoms and reduce relapse rates after an acute episode.

For more information, see Conventional Antipsychotics.

Tool: Medication adherence rating scale (MARS)

Medication Adherence Rating Scale (MARS)

How closely you adhere to your medication plan affects the progression and outcome of your psychosis. The Medication Adherence Rating Scale (MARS) is a self-report measure of medication adherence in psychosis. Use the MARS tool to determine your willingness and ability to take oral medication every day.

1.Do you ever forget to take your medication?
2.Are you careless at times about taking your medicine?
3.When you feel better, do you sometimes stop taking your medicine?
4.Sometimes if you feel worse when you take the medicine, do you stop taking it?
5.I take my medication only when I am sick.
6.It is unnatural for my mind and body to be controlled by medication.
7.My thoughts are clearer on medication.
8.By staying on medication, I can prevent getting sick.
9.I feel weird, like a ´zombie´, on medication.
10.Medication makes me feel tired and sluggish.


This individual has scored  out of 10 on the adherence rating scale.
It is likely they are adhering to their schizophrenia medication.


This individual has scored  out of 10 on the adherence rating scale.
They are not adhering to the prescribed medication schedule.

  1. Thompson K et al. Schizophrenia Research 2000;42:241-7.
  2. Fialko L, et al. Schizophrenia Research 2008;100:53-9.

This information will be collected for educational purposes, however it will remain anonymous.

Treatments for schizophrenia: Lifestyles


PsychotherapyPsychotherapy is a confiding interaction between a person suffering a psychological or mental disorder and a trained professional, usually a psychologist, aiming to improve an impaired psychological state. All psychotherapies are derived from three main bases of psychotherapy: cognitive, behavioural and psychoanalytical.

For more information, see Psychotherapy.

Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavioural therapyCBT is a relatively short-term form of psychotherapy that can be used for the treatment of a wide range of psychological disorders, including depression, anxiety, eating disorders, substance abuse and personality disorders. It can also be used to help people change their lifestyles. It focuses on working on the ‘incorrect beliefs’ that people have.

For more information, see Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT).

Social skills training

Social skills therapySocial skills training is a type of psychotherapy that works to help people improve their social skills so they can become socially competent. SST is predominantly a behavioural therapy but, cognitive therapy can also be used in some situations to maximise the success of SST. This psychotherapy can be done one on one with the psychologist or in a group situation.

For more information, see Social Skills Training (SST).

Family therapy

Family therapyFamily therapy can be defined as any psychological treatment that focuses on changing the way family members interact in order to improve the functioning of the family as a unit and the functioning of individuals in the family.

For information on therapy for you and your family, see Family Therapy.

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Posted On: 17 February, 2009
Modified On: 17 January, 2015


Created by: myVMC