What is schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a poorly understood group of mental disorders that disrupt the way in which the brain functions with cognition, behaviour and emotion. It usually first appears during adolescence or young adulthood, although onset can occur later in life. Many misunderstandings surround schizophrenia, which contribute to the stigma, isolation and discrimination that can be experienced by people with schizophrenia and their families and carers.

Researchers are making progress in understanding the causes of this disabling disorder and it is now known that genetic factors play a role. Further, there is evidence that the disruption of early brain development may be an implication and that early cannabis use is also a risk factor.

It is a myth that people affected by schizophrenia have multiple personalities – confused thinking, delusions and hallucinations are the true signs of the illness. These symptoms can be controlled or eliminated with the right medication and community support, however this takes time.

Many people eventually make a full recovery from schizophrenia, but some have persistent symptoms. The average life expectancy of those with the illness is 10 years less than other people, because of increased physical health problems and a higher rate of suicide.

Learn more about schizophrenia

Schizophrenia support

The following organisations offer a range of information about schizophrenia:

Lifeline: 13 11 14. Lifeline can also supply you with contacts, further information and help.

SANE Australia

Mental Illness Fellowship Queensland (MIFQ)

Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research (QCMHR)