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Many experiences and behaviours can be part of schizophrenia. For some people, they can start suddenly or for others it may develop gradually over a period of time. People often believe that schizophrenia is having a split personality where one side is calm and the other is violent. This is simply not true as each person's experience of schizophrenia is unique to them. There are negative and positive symptoms associated with schizophrenia. The positive symptoms relate to changes in behaviour or thoughts or the person could be delusional, experience hallucinations, or have confused thoughts. Another way of describing schizophrenia is a type of psychosis, which means the individual may not be able to distinguish their own thoughts and ideas from reality. The person has an unshakable belief that their delusion is real. Some of the delusions are things that could happen in real life like being poisoned, being followed, deceived or conspired against. These delusions usually involve highly exaggerated mistaken perceptions or experiences.

The most common early warning signs include depression, social withdrawal, hostility or suspiciousness, an extreme reaction to criticism and deterioration of personal hygiene, a flat expressionless gaze, an inability to cry or express joy, inappropriate levels of laughter or crying, being forgetful and finally oversleeping or insomnia. Whilst these warning signs can result from a number of problems, not just schizophrenia, they're a cause for concern. When out of the ordinary behaviour is causing problems in your life or the life of a loved one, seek medical advice. If schizophrenia or another mental problem is the cause, getting treatment early will help. A good source of information in the UK is the rethink website, at rethink.org.