The diagnosis of schizophrenia covers a range of different problems. These problems include excessive fears about being harmed and hearing voices when nobody else is about; in medical terms these experiences are called delusions and hallucinations.

People can also have problems in concentration, experiencing pleasure, and energy levels. Feelings of anxiety and depression are very common.

Approximately 1 in every 100 people has experiences that meet the criteria for schizophrenia. However, many more people have the experiences to a milder degree. There is typically no simple cause.

The current evidence suggests that the experiences of schizophrenia are caused by a combination of psychological (e.g. we feel negative about ourselves, worry too much, jump to conclusions), social (e.g. have bad things happen to us, take certain illicit drugs), biological (e.g. brain functioning), and genetic (e.g. born more vulnerable) factors.

At Oxford Health, researchers are investigating all these different types of causes of schizophrenia experiences. We want to use these advances in understanding to develop better treatments. We recognise that psychological and drug treatments need to be improved and that services need organising in the best way for patients. Many such treatment innovations are currently underway in the Trust.

Daniel Freeman, Professor of Clinical Psychology

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Page last reviewed: 21 September, 2021