Schizophrenia is a complex neurological disorder, believed to be caused by a biochemical imbalance in the brain. Its symptoms – which usually appear in adolescence or early adulthood – include delusions, hallucinations, disturbances in thinking and communication, and withdrawal from social activity.

If left untreated, schizophrenia can take a huge financial and emotional toll on patients and their families, in addition to placing an economic and social burden on society as a whole. Sadly, because of the nature of the illness, schizophrenia can also lead to confinement, homelessness and even suicide for those who are ill.

Although there is still no cure for schizophrenia, the illness is treatable, and many people with schizophrenia go on to lead fulfilling lives. Psychiatrists agree that today, the best way to manage schizophrenia is through a combination of medication therapy and “psychosocial interventions”, a term which describes a range of treatments such as psychological counselling, patient education programmes, and other support services.

There are a number of medications currently available that treat schizophrenia. Since each person’s illness is unique, their medication plan will also be unique, and the type of medication and dosage required will vary for each individual. Regardless of which medications are used, regular and on-going monitoring is important to ensure that patients are taking their medication as prescribed, to identify when patients respond well (and when they don’t) and to monitor any side effects.

With early intervention and proper treatment, many individuals living with schizophrenia are able to manage their disease and live a full, productive life.