Learn about Schizophrenia   


What is schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a mental illness that affects how individuals think, feel and interact with the world around them.

Individuals living with schizophrenia may experience times when they cannot tell the difference between what is real and what is not. This detached sense of reality is often due to experiencing hallucinations (hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting or feeling something that is not there) and delusions (beliefs that are not true).

Individuals with schizophrenia may have difficulty doing their day-to-day activities. This can be due to a number of reasons including difficulty communicating with others and disorganization of their thoughts. Individuals can have difficulty with starting or completing activities. Individuals may also have changes in their mood and a loss of interest in activities that they once enjoyed.

Who does schizophrenia affect?

Schizophrenia can affect anyone. Approximately one in 100 people will be diagnosed with schizophrenia. Although the exact cause is unclear, genetics (what you inherit from your parents) and life events may all play a part. Generally, when individuals with schizophrenia are experiencing more stressors in their life they experience more symptoms.

Individuals with schizophrenia tend to develop symptoms in their late teens or early 20s; however, the age of onset and how the symptoms present themselves can vary between individuals. Generally, signs and symptoms of schizophrenia occur during the years that most youth and young adults would be developing the skills needed to live independently and therefore individuals with schizophrenia might require additional support to develop these skills.

What are the treatment options for schizophrenia?

With the right supports, many people with schizophrenia can and do recover to their previous level of functioning. For most, recovery involves learning how to effectively manage their mental health and enhance their quality of life. Each individual’s experience with schizophrenia is unique. For example, some individuals may only have one episode of symptoms, while others may have reoccurring episodes requiring varying levels of support.

Most individuals living with schizophrenia are treated with a combination of:


There are a variety of medications (called antipsychotics) that can manage the symptoms of schizophrenia such as hallucinations and delusions. Individuals may also be prescribed other medications to manage side-effects or to treat other symptoms such as depression or anxiety. The type, dose and combination of medications vary between individuals. It is important to have regular communication with the doctor about the effects of medication and any potential side effects. It may take some time to find the combination that works best!

Supports and Self-Care

Supports can come in many forms. Supports are unique to each person and may include family members, friends, a partner, support groups or a mental health worker.

Working with a trained clinician can have a number of benefits. These include:

  • Having a listening ear that is non-judgmental, confidential and supportive;
  • Learning new or helpful skills (such as activity planning, cooking skills, vocational skills or mindfulness) to help individuals do the things you need and want to do;
  • Identifying how to manage and prevent relapse of symptoms; and,
  • Connections with community supports to help individuals live and stay well in the community.

Self-care is essential. An integral part of recovery involves a balance of activities that support wellness and connection with others. This may include spirituality, stress management, nutrition, activity and rest. 

Click here to find out more about how we help at HPS.

Information has been adapted from CAMH and CMHA.