Schizophrenia affects thinking, feeling and behaviour and will affect about one in 100 people. Schizophrenia is a serious mental illness characterised by disturbances in a person's thoughts, perceptions, emotions and behaviour. Doctors often describe schizophrenia as a psychotic illness. This means sometimes a person may not be able to distinguish his or her own thoughts and ideas from reality.
Behaviour changes may be sudden or gradual. Thoughts and ideas can seem jumbled and make little sense to others. During an episode of schizophrenia, a person may lose touch with reality, see or hear things that are not there, hold irrational or unfounded beliefs and appear to act strangely because they are responding to these delusions and hallucinations.
Many people with schizophrenia will never need to go into hospital. They can continue to work, have relationships and lead a stable life.