Written by Aqilah Nadirah

What is Schizophrenia?

Contrary to popular beliefs, schizophrenia is not a split personality or multiple-personality, it is a chronic mental health disease represented by a collection of symptoms that includes delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech or behavior, impaired cognitive ability, and impaired psychosocial functioning.  Due to the disabling nature of its symptoms, schizophrenia is a highly debilitating disease where economic burden associated with this disease is significant and mainly attributed to productivity loss.  

When the disease is active, it can be characterized by episodes in which the patient is unable to distinguish between real and unreal experiences.  The incidence of severe psychotic symptoms often decreases during a patient’s lifetime although incompliant to medication, intake of substances such as alcohol or illicit drugs and also stressful situations tend to increase symptoms.


Although schizophrenia has no cure, many patients do well with minimal symptoms and it is impossible in most patients to implement effective psychosocial rehabilitation programs in the absence of antipsychotic medication.  Immediate initiation of drug treatment is vital within five years after the first acute episode as this is when most illness-related changes in the brain occur.

Living with Schizophrenia

Family support is very important for many people living with schizophrenia to their health and well-being.  Optimism is imperative for patients, family members, and mental health professionals where they constantly need to be aware that many patients have a favorable course of illness, that challenges can often be addressed, and that patients have many personal strengths that can be recognized and supported.


  • American Psychiatric Association. (2017, July). What is Schizophrenia. Retrieved September 2019, from American Psychiatric Association: https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/schizophrenia/what-is-schizophrenia
  • Patel, K. R., Cherian, J., Gohil, K., & Atkinson, D. (2014). Schizophrenia: Overview and Treatment Options. Pharmacy and Therapeutics , 39 (9), 638-645.
  • Siew, L. T., Huey, Y. C., Abdul Aziz, S., Chemi, N., Othman, A. R., Md Zaki, N., et al. (2017). The economic burden of schizophrenia in Malaysia. Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment , 13, 1979-1987.
  • Crismon, M. L., Argo, T. R., & Buckley, P. F. (2008). Schizophrenia. In J. T. Dipiro, R. L. Talbert, G. C. Yee, G. R. Matzke, B. G. Wells, & L. M. Posey, Pharmacotherapy: A Pathopysiologic Approach (pp. 1099-1122). New York: McGraw-Hill.