Schizophrenia: Symptoms, Signs, and Treatment

Schizophrenia is one of the most serious and disabling mental illnesses. Some people diagnosed with schizophrenia are able to manage their symptoms adequately with the lifelong use of powerful antipsychotic medications and a strong support system. However, far too many experience significant suffering, with bouts of homelessness, institutionalization, regular and lengthy hospital stays and seemingly endless trials of different medications.

Schizophrenia Facts and Stats

  • Schizophrenia affects about 1.1% of people in the U.S.1
  • An estimated 10% of people who have a first-degree relative with the disorder (e.g. a parent or sibling) will develop schizophrenia.1
  • When an identical twin is diagnosed with schizophrenia, the unaffected twin has an estimated 50% chance of developing the disorder.1
  • The lifetime risk of suicide among individuals with schizophrenia is believed to be about 5%.2
  • Between 2009 and 2011, there were more than 382,000 visits to ERs for people ages 18 to 64 with schizophrenia. Men had double the rate of ER visits than women.3

Schizophrenia Causes and Risk Factors

A complex interplay of genetics, environment, substance use and brain chemistry are thought to play a role in schizophrenia.1 Like almost all types of mental illness, schizophrenia knows no boundaries with regard to gender, race or socioeconomic status. Autopsies and brain scans have revealed differences in the brain structure of schizophrenics compared to individuals without the disorder.

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