Schizophrenia

Understanding Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a psychotic disorder, often long-lasting, which may lead to marked changes in a person’s perception of reality.

SCHIZOPHRENIA OVERVIEW

Schizophrenia is caused by an imbalance in the chemicals facilitating the communication between neurons in the brain, leading to the perception (seeing/hearing/thinking) of things that are not real. The factors that create this imbalance are not fully understood.

 

Schizophrenia is a common form of severe mental illness that carries a notable ‘stigma’ and is often misunderstood. People with schizophrenia experience disturbed thoughts, emotions and behavior, and they find it difficult to judge reality.1 This can have a major impact on the life of the individual and his/her family.

Facts about Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is one of Lundbeck’s focus disease areas, and is a chronic, severe and disabling psychiatric disorder. The disease is characterized by distortions in thinking, perception, emotions, language, sense of self and behaviour. Common experiences include hearing voices and delusions. 1 Schizophrenia affects both men and women, although men tend to develop the condition slightly earlier in life.

The World Health Organization estimates that 20 million people suffer from schizophrenia, making it one of the top 10 causes of disability worldwide.1-2

Symptoms of schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is characterized by episodes of psychosis (losing touch with reality) in between periods of blunted emotions and withdrawal.1Schizophrenia symptoms can be defined by what are known as positive symptoms and negative symptoms, along with cognitive symptoms, mood symptoms, and motor symptoms.

 

Positive symptoms - The symptoms that occur during the episodes of psychosis are known as ‘positive symptoms’ and include thought disorder, delusions (false beliefs, often with paranoia), and hallucinations – mainly hearing voices.1 These symptoms are often accompanied by anxiety, depression and excessive activity – moving around constantly and becoming agitated.1

 

Negative symptoms - In contrast, the episodes of withdrawal consist of ‘negative symptoms’. These include reduced emotions, less fluency of speech, poor capacity to plan, initiate and/or persist in activities, and reduced feelings of pleasure or interest. Negative symptoms are usually responsible for problems with social interaction and daily activities.1

Facts about Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is among the most financially costly illnesses in the world4,5

Schizophrenia is marked by positive symptoms; hallucinations and delusions, and negative symptoms; blunted emotions and social withdrawal

Epidemiology and burden

The World Health Organization estimates that 20 million people suffer from schizophrenia, making it one of the top 20 causes of disability worldwide.2-3 Schizophrenia affects people regardless of race, culture or social class. It typically starts in early adulthood (from age 20)but it can develop at any age.

 

Schizophrenia affects both men and women, although men tend to develop the condition slightly earlier in life.The chance of an individual developing schizophrenia during his or her lifetime is approximately 1%.4

 

Schizophrenia is also among the most financially costly illnesses in the world and, together with other psychotic illnesses, has been shown to account for 1.5% (UK), 2% (Netherlands, France) and 2.5% (US) of total national healthcare budgets.6-7

Facts about Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia affects people regardless of race, culture or social class. It typically starts in early adulthood around age 20, but it can develop at any age6

The risk of an individual developing schizophrenia during his or her lifetime is approximately 1%6

People who are concerned that they – or their loved ones – are experiencing symptoms of schizophrenia should see their doctor for help and advice.

Diagnosis and care

Schizophrenia is diagnosed using patient interviews and may involve discussions with loved ones. There are numerous assessment scales that can also be used to help identify the symptoms, and severity of schizophrenia.

 

Schizophrenia requires treatment. With appropriate treatment it’s possible to substantially reduce the symptoms associated with schizophrenia, and to recognize the ‘risk factors’ or ‘warning signs’ of a pending relapse. Treatment usually consists of a combination of medication and psychosocial therapy, with a period in hospital often necessary for care and monitoring during psychotic episodes.

  1. American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, 5th edition (DSM-5). Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Association; 2013.
  2. World Health Organization. Schizophrenia fact sheet. 2019. Available at https://www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/schizophrenia. Accessed January 2020.
  3. GBD 2017 Disease and Injury Incidence and Prevalence Collaborators. Global, regional, and national incidence, prevalence, and years lived with disability for 354 diseases and injuries for 195 countries and territories, 1990–2017: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2017. Lancet 2018; 392 (10159): 1789–1858.
  4. Tsuang MT, Faraone SV. Schizophrenia. Second edition. Oxford University Press Inc., New York: 2004.
  5. Ochoa S, Usall J, Cobo J, Labad X, Kulkarni J. Gender differences in schizophrenia and first-episode psychosis: a comprehensive literature review. Schizophr Res Treatment 2012; 2012: 916198.
  6. Lindström E, Eberhard J, Neovius M, Levander S. Costs of schizophrenia during 5 years. Acta Psychiatr Scand Suppl 2007; 116 (435): 33–40.
  7. Rössler W, Salize HJ, van Os J, Riecher-Rössler A. Size of burden of schizophrenia and psychotic disorders. Eur Neuropsychopharmacol 2005; 15 (4): 399–409

1. World Health Organization. Schizophrenia fact sheet. 2019. Available at https://www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/schizophrenia. Accessed January 2020
2. GBD 2017 Disease and Injury Incidence and Prevalence Collaborators. Global, regional, and national incidence, prevalence, and years lived with disability for 354 diseases and injuries for 195 countries and territories, 1990–2017: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2017. Lancet 2018; 392 (10159): 1789–1858.
3. Ochoa S, Usall J, Cobo J, Labad X, Kulkarni J. Gender differences in schizophrenia and first-episode psychosis: a comprehensive literature review. Schizophr Res Treatment 2012; 2012: 916198.
4. Lindström E, Eberhard J, Neovius M, Levander S. Costs of schizophrenia during 5 years. Acta Psychiatr Scand Suppl 2007;116 (435):3340.
5. Rössler W, Salize HJ, van Os J, Riecher-Rössler A. Size of burden of schizophrenia and psychotic disorders. Eur Neuropsychopharmacol 2005; 15 (4): 399409.
6. Tsuang MT, Farone SV. Schizophrenia. Second edition. Oxford University Press Inc., New York: 2004.