This NICE guideline covers the care, treatment and support that adults (aged 18 and older) with schizophrenia should be offered. This includes people who develop schizophrenia before they are 60 and continue to require treatment after this age.
Over a lifetime, about 1% of the population will develop schizophrenia. The first symptoms tend to start in young adulthood, but can occur at any age, usually at a time when people are trying to make the transition to independent living. The symptoms and behaviour associated with schizophrenia can have a distressing impact on family and friends.
The diagnosis of schizophrenia is still associated with considerable stigma, fear and limited public understanding. The first few years after onset can be particularly upsetting and chaotic, and there is a higher risk of suicide. Once an acute episode is over, there are often other problems such as social exclusion, with reduced opportunities to get back to work or study, and problems making new relationships.
Recently, there has been a new emphasis in services on early detection and intervention, a focus on long-term recovery and promoting people’s choices about the management of their condition. There is evidence that most people will recover, although some will have persisting difficulties or remain vulnerable to future episodes. Not everyone will accept help from statutory services. In the longer term, most people will find ways to manage acute problems, and compensate for any remaining difficulties.
This clinical guideline updates and replaces: