Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

Treatment for schizophrenia

3-minute read

Schizophrenia is a significant mental illness which affects people’s thoughts, perceptions and behaviour and interferes with their ability to function at work, school or relate to other people. It causes someone to have an altered experience of reality and is one of a group of disorders known as psychosis.

The good news is that schizophrenia is more treatable than ever before. Many people recover completely whereas others might have episodes of schizophrenia that come and go. There are a number of different treatments to help people manage their symptoms and help them to flourish in all areas of life.

Treatment should be under the care of a psychiatrist, but may involve a team of different mental health professionals, including a doctor, mental health nurse, social worker, occupational therapist and clinical psychologist. Treatments are tailored according to the needs of the individual.

Research has shown that early treatment can be more effective, before the illness has time to cause damage. There are early intervention programs in most major cities in Australia.


Medicine is the main form of treatment for schizophrenia. Antipsychotic medicines can reduce the main symptoms like hallucinations and delusions, and normally take up to 6 weeks to start working. Recently, a new generation of treatments has been developed, including risperidone, quetiapine, clozapine and many others. Some people develop side effects to medicine, so it is important to have regular appointments with a psychiatrist or doctor. People respond differently to medicine and sometimes it is necessary to try more than one type before finding the ideal medicine.

Psychological treatments

Psychological treatments can help people to understand and manage their symptoms and learn new ways of coping. Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), supportive psychotherapy and family therapy may all be used.

Community support

Mental health services can also provide practical support for people with schizophrenia. A stable living environment, supportive relationships and meaningful work or activity are essential ingredients for recovery. Some people with schizophrenia may need rehabilitation and skills training to help them get back to work or education.

Medical care

People with schizophrenia may have higher rates of physical health problems than the wider community. It’s important to see a doctor regularly to stay healthy.

Hospital treatment

Some people with schizophrenia need to be treated in hospital at times. A hospital admission can help when symptoms are out of control or the person is not managing at home. Although the majority of people with schizophrenia are not violent, severe symptoms can cause some people to have thoughts of suicide or harming others. If you think someone may be at risk of suicide or violence, call triple zero (000).

It’s important to get professional help to manage schizophrenia. If you or someone you know seems to be experiencing symptoms of schizophrenia, see your doctor as soon as possible.

Try our service finder to locate a general practice in your region.

For further information about schizophrenia, please see the Australian Treatment Guide for Consumers and Carers, from the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: December 2018

Back To Top

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Treatment of schizophrenia | Your Health in Mind

The best treatment for schizophrenia is a combination of medication, psychological treatment and community support.

Read more on RANZCP - The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists website

Schizophrenia | Garvan Institute of Medical Research

Read about the risks, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of schizophrenia and Garvan's research for better management and outcomes.

Read more on Garvan Institute of Medical Research website


What is Schizophrenia? Schizophrenia is an illness, a medical condition. It affects the normal functioning of the brain, interfering with a person’s ability to think, feel and act. Some do recover completely, and, with time, most find that their symptoms improve. However, for many, it is a prolonged illness which can involve years of distressing symptoms and disability.

Read more on Mi Networks website

What is schizophrenia? | Psychotic disorders | ReachOut Australia

Schizophrenia is a mental health condition that affects a person's perception of reality and behaviour. Find out more about the signs and treatments here.

Read more on website


Schizophrenia is an illness that disrupts the functioning of the human mind. It causes intense episodes of psychosis involving delusions and hallucina...

Read more on SANE Australia website

Who can help with schizophrenia? | Your Health in Mind

Your GP (family doctor), psychiatrist and case manage will be involved in your care and treatment.

Read more on RANZCP - The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists website

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) | Your Health in Mind

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is a safe and effective medical treatment for severe depression, mania and schizophrenia...

Read more on RANZCP - The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists website

Self-care for schizophrenia | Your Health in Mind

Pay attention to changes in your body and in your thinking. Tell your psychiatrist as soon as possible if you think some...

Read more on RANZCP - The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists website

Schizophrenia and psychotic disorders | Head to Health

Psychosis is a group of related symptoms that seriously affect how you think, feel, and behave. The most common and well-known psychotic disorder is schizophrenia, though people can also experience psychosis as part of other disorders.

Read more on Head to Health website

Cannabis psychosis -

Cannabis use can cause you to experience psychotic symptoms, here’s what research says about cannabis use and psychosis.

Read more on myDr website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo