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Dr Geoff Lawrence-Smith

This page was clinically reviewed by Dr Geoff Lawrence-Smith (MBBS, MRCPsych, BSc, PGCAP, FHEA), Consultant Psychiatrist at Priory Wellbeing Centre Harley Street, in June 2022.

Schizophrenia is a relatively common condition with a range of different symptoms which can vary enormously in their severity. Most people with schizophrenia have bouts of illness when they experience symptoms, such as feelings of paranoia, delusional beliefs and hallucinations.

Schizophrenia can cause confusion and difficulties in concentrating and controlling thoughts and some people have long term problems with organisational skills and motivation. The earlier schizophrenia is diagnosed and treated, the greater the chances of recovery or effective reduction in associated schizophrenia symptoms.

If you have schizophrenia, your understanding and interpretation of events around you may be distorted compared to others. You may see or hear things which aren’t truly there, or have beliefs and ideas which appear removed from reality, and can lead to unusual behaviours in response to these events which feel entirely real from your perspective.

If you have been recently diagnosed with schizophrenia or know someone who has, Priory Wellbeing Centres and UK hospitals are located nationwide for your convenience. This means you can book an initial assessment and receive personalised specialist mental health treatment and support from some of the UK’s leading therapists and consultants without having to travel long distances.

Schizophrenia diagnosis

There are many misconceptions within society and the media about what a diagnosis of schizophrenia actually entails.

If you have been diagnosed with the condition, it is important to know that notions of having a ‘split personality’, or that someone with the disorder is potentially violent or dangerous are largely incorrect, as most people with schizophrenia rarely commit violent crimes. While the word schizophrenia translates as having ‘two minds’, this description relates to a person's personal experience of disordered thinking and experiences, rather than referring to their personality.

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How is schizophenia treated? 

Expert treatment for schizophrenia is available through Priory and can include a combined treatment programme comprising medication, counselling and therapy. These will be prescribed and delivered according to your personal needs and wishes over the course of your care.

Our overall aim is to help and support your independence and try to improve your quality of life while recognising and working with you to avoid the events or circumstances that might trigger a deterioration in your mental health.


During an acute phase of schizophrenia where you are experiencing heightened symptoms, you may be given antipsychotic medication. These medicines tend to have sedative qualities to help reduce the impact of your symptoms, although any side effects can be reduced by reviewing these with you regularly.

Your medication programme will be carefully monitored and worked through during your treatment with Priory, with you and your consultant working together in order to choose the right medicine for your specific needs.

You may also be offered antidepressants, mood stabilising drugs and sedative medicines as necessary. Once the acute phase has passed, the medication may be reduced and simplified. You may need some form of medication for a year or longer after an acute phase to reduce the risk of relapse and help you continue to manage the condition and lessen its impact on your day-to-day life.

Counselling for schizophrenia

Counselling may be helpful if you have schizophrenia, with noticeable progress sometimes possible from as few as ten sessions. These sessions help you to make sense of your experiences and learn to cope with day-to-day issues. Counselling can encourage you to re-learn core life skills to help you return to normal life as soon as possible.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)

CBT helps you to understand your thought processes and learn strategies for coping with your feelings and reactions to the symptoms you experience, helping you manage behaviour more effectively through a problem solving and action-oriented approach. CBT can help you consider your personal experience of symptoms and whether your thinking styles may be unhelpful or contribute to your distress.  

Family therapy

These sessions are aimed at understanding, supporting and managing some of the many difficulties that arise in a family setting if you have schizophrenia. The aim of this therapy is to encourage family members to research the illness and learn ways to work with you to optimise your home environment. Doing this can reduce the chance of situations in/around the home triggering an increase of your symptoms.

Physical health

People with schizophrenia seem to have poorer physical health than the general population so it's very important that you pay attention to maintaining a healthy diet, exercising when you can, and try to reduce your smoking or stop altogether. Some antipsychotic medications can affect how your body produces energy from food (metabolism) which can lead to weight gain, so it's very important to work closely with your GP and psychiatrist to minimise the chances of this.

Dr Fiona Morrison, Consultant Psychiatrist at Priory Hospital Glasgow answers frequently asked questions about schizophrenia

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