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Schizophrenia - Topic Overview

How is schizophrenia diagnosed?

Your doctor will ask you questions about your health and about any odd experiences you may have had, such as hearing voices or having confusing thoughts. You will have a physical exam. Your doctor also may suggest tests, such as blood tests or imaging tests, to see if your symptoms may be caused by another health problem.

How is it treated?

Medicines help your symptoms, and counseling and therapy help you change how you think about things and deal with the illness. Treatment may last a long time.

When you have your symptoms under control, you are in recovery. Recovery usually is a lifelong process. In the recovery process, you learn to cope with your symptoms and challenges, find and meet your goals, and get the support you need. Your recovery depends upon a partnership between you, your doctors, and others who are important in your life.

People who have schizophrenia often stop treatment. This may be because they don't understand that they have an illness or because the medicines cause side effects. When treatment stops, symptoms usually come back (relapse) or get worse. A relapse might happen right after treatment is stopped or months later. A later relapse makes it hard to see that stopping the medicine was the cause. During a relapse, some people who have schizophrenia may need to spend time in a hospital.

How can family and friends help?

Having schizophrenia can be a scary experience, and knowing that someone you love has this illness changes your life. Show love, and learn as much as you can about the illness. Understand that the behavior you may see is caused by the illness and is not the person you love.

If you think that someone you love has schizophrenia, help that person get to a doctor. The sooner the illness is diagnosed and the person begins treatment, the more successful treatment and recovery may be.

You can help by talking to your loved one and helping him or her continue treatment. You also can help your loved one deal with fear and other feelings about the illness and with the negative attitudes that some people have toward schizophrenia.


WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: August 31, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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