Schizophrenia is a chronic disorder characterized by remitting and relapsing delusional and hallucinatory experiences, disordered speech, and deteriorating social and occupational function. Its impact is multidimensional and often devastating. The office of the surgeon general estimates that schizophrenia occurs in 1.3% of the US population between the ages of 18 and 54, or nearly 2.5 million adults.
The onset of symptoms of Schizophrenia is very gradual and often goes unnoticed. The onset of symptoms typically occurs during young adulthood (mid-20s for men, late-20s for women). Unfortunately, many of these people are not aware of the resources available to them, so they end up homeless, jobless, or incarcerated. What these people need is a comprehensive and carefully individualized treatment plan that considers patient, disease, and lifestyle factors as well as current evidence-based medicine. With the right treatment team behind them, we can expect substantial improvements in outcome for these patients.
The symptoms of Schizophrenia can be grouped into 3 categories:
Positive Symptoms (psychoses such as hallucinations, delusions)
Disorganized Symptoms (confused thinking or speech, unusual or nonsensical behavior)
Negative Symptoms (emotional flatness, inability to start or follow through with activities, speech that is brief and lacks content, lack of pleasure or interest in life)
In addition, cognition is often impaired, most severely in executive function, verbal memory, verbal fluency, vigilance, and motor speed. These deficits tend to occur very early in the course of the illness.
Schizophrenia is associated with medical morbidity and mortality, particularly for diseases of the digestive, circulatory, nervous, endocrine, and respiratory systems, as well as for suicide and undetermined death.
Factors more common in patients with schizophrenia that account for increased morbidity and mortality compared with disease-free populations include: Cardiovascular disease precipitated by increased rates of smoking, obesity, diabetes, hypertryertriglyceridemia, hyperlipidemia, hyperprolactinemia, hypertension, metabolic syndrome, low levels if insight, HIV, hepatitis, substance abuse, and reduced access to and use of medical care.
Finally, the burden of schizophrenia weighs heavily on patients’ families and caretakers due to physical, enotional, social, and financial stressors. individuals with this condition tpically experience social witdrawal, preoccupation with their psychotic symptoms, poor interpersonal rapport, and lower levels of education and income.
Additional facts to consider: Adults with ADHD are three times as likely to get into a serious motor vehicle accident, and twice as likely to get a divorce.
The newer treatments are highly effective at reducing, and sometimes eliminating, the psychiatric symptoms suffered by the Schizophrenic population. These newer treatments have a much lower incidence of side-effects than did the older-generation antipsychotics. Some treatment options you might want to discuss with your Psychiatrist are: Mood stabilizers (Depakote, Tegretol, Lithium, Lamictal, Zyprexa, Seroquel, Abilfy, Geodon, and any other adjuntive treatment that might be necessaryl
There is hope for a better future for the Schizophrenic patient, and it starts right here.
Get help by scheduling a confidential appointment with Dr. Fairweather at (817) 283-4300.
Helpful Schizophrenia Resources: