Lægesamtale psykiatrien

This page provides you with information about schizophrenia in adults.

The psychiatric services in Central Denmark Region treat schizophrenia in these teams:

What is schizophrenia?

What is schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a mental disorder. It is characterised by changes in the way you perceive yourself, others and the world. This is called having a psychosis. Typical signs of schizophrenia may be that you:

  • Hear voices
  • See things that others cannot see
  • Perceive the world differently from others
  • Lack energy
  • Have difficulty taking initiatives
  • Have difficulty planning and performing tasks.

In addition, you may periodically have anxiety and a tendency towards depression. The disorder can therefore make it difficult to have a well-functioning student life, working life and family life. However, there are also people with schizophrenia who recover and function well in an everyday life with family and work.

Facts about schizophrenia

  • Every year, approximately 500 Danes are diagnosed with schizophrenia
  • Schizophrenia is seen slightly more often in men than in women
  • The disorder is almost equally widespread in all cultures, social levels and countries
  • The disorder most often starts in early adulthood
  • The disorder often affects women a little later than men.

A disorder with many myths

What is schizotypy?

In somewhat simplified terms, schizotypy can be described as a mild form of schizophrenia. Schizophrenia and schizotypy have the same basic symptoms, but they are often less evident in the latter.

Schizotypy was previously called borderline psychosis. When you have schizotypy, you will not experience actual psychoses, but you may have psychosis-near experiences. This means that you may briefly experience something resembling a psychosis. This may, for example, be that you briefly hear a voice talking to you. Or that you see a bright red cross on the wall that is only there for a few seconds. You may also find that your senses become heightened. Light may suddenly seem blinding, and sounds around you may be greatly amplified. 

Course of the disease – schizophrenia

The period before the disorder appears

Before the onset of the disease, there is often a period in which you begin to function more poorly. This can be both socially and at work. The period can last from months to years. Maybe you isolate yourself and lose interest in the things you otherwise loved. This period is called the prodromal period. This is followed by the actual outbreak of the disorder.

The actual course of the disorder can be divided into three phases:

  1. The acute phase
    A phase characterised by anxiety, chaos and psychotic symptoms.

  2. The stabilisation phase
    You start treatment and gradually get better. You need to recognise that you have a disorder and learn to live with it.

  3. The maintenance phase
    You need to work on maintaining the good results achieved, and perhaps improve even further.


Unfortunately, some people experience a recurrence. A recurrence means a return to the acute phase. This usually happens because you have stopped taking your medication, are exposed to significant strain or stress or start substance abuse.

It is therefore important that you continue with your treatment to prevent more psychoses. If you become psychotic again, the treatment will take longer. There is also a risk that you will not fully recover again.

Course of the disease – schizotypy

In schizotypy, you do not experience actual psychoses, and therefore you do not go through the same type of acute phase, stabilisation phase and maintenance phase.

Symptoms of schizotypy are more constant. They may seem like some basic personality traits. For example, that you prefer activities by yourself or that you have a characteristic, different way of speaking.   

What causes schizophrenia or schizotypy?

Why do some people develop schizophrenia or schizotypy?


Stress and strains

What happens in the brain?

When I walked home in the dark in the evening, I could sense all the staring evil eyes behind all the darkened windows I passed. I hurried as much as I could. On my way home, my condition alternated between a feeling of happiness and a horrible feeling. In my state of happiness, I heard heavenly music quite clearly, and, in the other state, I heard people arguing and laughing viciously.
Kasper, 37, describes one of his hearing hallucinations

Symptoms of schizophrenia

Schizophrenia may manifest itself in many ways

Psychotic symptoms


Impact and control experiences

Odd gestures


Loss of abilities

Changes in language and thoughts

Krishna, who was a transparent light with the shape of a human being, extended his hands down through my carpet and the carpet disappeared where his hands reached down. There, demons were running around – they were dark and had horns and tails.
Kasper, 37, describing one of his visual hallucinations

Other symptoms

Symptoms of schizotypy

Schizophrenia and schizotypy have a number of symptoms in common, such as jumbled thoughts and problems socialising. Symptoms are generally milder in schizotypy.

Psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations and delusions are far less pronounced or even non-existent in schizotypy patients. You will not experience actual psychoses, but you may have psychosis-near experiences where you have hallucinations for a moment.

Facts: Difference between psychosis and near psychosis

In a psychosis situation, you are convinced that what you are experiencing is real (e.g.: There is a voice speaking to me). In a near psychosis situation, you are more uncertain about what you are experiencing (It is as if there is a voice speaking to me).  A near psychosis also lasts a very short time – typically seconds or minutes – while a psychosis can last several days, months or even years.

Core symptoms of schizotypy

Other symptoms

Examination for schizophrenia

Do you suspect that you have schizophrenia?

Referred – now what?

Kvinde læser

Preparation before examination

A typical examination

Exclusion of physical illness

After the examination

Examination for schizotypy

The examination procedure is the same as for schizophrenia. To be diagnosed with schizotypy, you must have had the symptoms for at least two years.

Many persons have been through an extensive examination process before being diagnosed with schizotypy. The reason for this is that symptoms of schizotypy may resemble symptoms of other diseases, such as schizophrenia, anxiety, depression or personality disorder. Many patients have therefore been examined for other mental disorders before being examined for schizotypy.

Types of schizophrenia

What types of schizophrenia are there?

Having to explain to you how I feel would be like describing a painting to you. I could describe colours and shapes, but you will never completely understand it anyway.
Søren, schizophrenic

Treatment of schizophrenia

The sooner, the better

Two-year course of treatment

Pharmacological treatment

Education about schizophrenia disorder

psykoterapi - Horsens Psykiatri

Someone in the ward lit black candles everywhere. It had to be because she was performing voodoo, because candles are meant for creating a cosy atmosphere, and you don’t choose black for that. I was sure she had made a voodoo doll of me, and it was a horrible thought.
Kasper, 37, describing one of his delusions

Psychological treatment

Social therapy and support options

Treatment for substance abuse

A typical course of treatment


After the course of treatment

Treatment of schizotypy

For how long you will need treatment for schizotypy will depend on an individual assessment. However, the course is most often long term, typically several years.

The same types of treatment are offered as for schizophrenia. Not all persons suffering from schizotypy are treated with medication.

Advice for people who have schizophrenia or schizotypy

What can be done to prevent schizophrenia?

What can you do yourself if you are suffering from schizophrenia?

Advice for relatives

Life as a relative

What can you as a relative do for yourself?

It’s terrible to watch someone you care deeply about becoming firmly convinced that she’s a princess, that the phones are being tapped and that the rest of us are only out to hurt her. You become completely powerless.
Relative of schizophrenia sufferer

What can you, as a relative, do to help the person suffering from schizophrenia or schizotypy?

Text on this page updated December 2021 (version 1.04).

Most recently revised by: Charlotte Emborg Mafi, Senior Consultant, Psychosis Research Unit, Aarhus University Hospital – Psychiatry.

Direct link: www.en.szp2.ps.rm.dk