- Schizophrenia is a serious
disorder of the mind and brain but it is also highly treatable. Although there is no cure
(as of 2007) for schizophrenia, the treatment success rate with antipsychotic
medications and psycho-social therapies can be high. If the appropriate
level of investment is made in research,
it has been estimated that a
cure for schizophrenia could be found within 10 years (by the year 2013).
Traditionally, however, schizophrenia has only received a small fraction
of the amount of medical research dollars that go into other serious diseases and disorders (see below - Schizophrenia
Research - for more information).
- New Treatments: There are over 15 new medications for the treatment of schizophrenia currently in development by different biotech and pharmaceuticals companies (source: Special report on New Schizophrenia Medications). Additionally, there are many new and improving psycho-social treatments and cognitive therapies for schizophrenia that are being rolled out with significant success. Together these new treatments hold significant promise of a better life in the future for people who have schizophrenia. Check here for the latest news coverage of these new therapies.
- Schizophrenia is a devastating disorder for most people who are afflicted, and very costly for families and society. The overall U.S. 2002 cost of schizophrenia was estimated to be $62.7 billion, with $22.7 billion excess direct health care cost ($7.0 billion outpatient, $5.0 billion drugs, $2.8 billion inpatient, $8.0 billion long-term care). (source: Analysis Group, Inc.)
- Today the leading theory of why people get schizophrenia is that it is a result of a genetic predisposition combined with an environmental exposures and / or stresses during pregnancy or childhood that contribute to, or trigger, the disorder. Already researchers have identified several of the key genes - that
when damaged - seem to create a predisposition, or increased risk, for schizophrenia. The genes, in combination with suspected environmental factors - are believed to be the factors that result in schizophrenia. These genes that seem to cause increased risk of schizophrenia include the DISC1,
Neuregulin and G72 genes, but it has been estimated that up a dozen or more genes could be involved in schizophrenia risk. See our Schizophrenia Genetics news for the latest information in this fast-moving area.
- One of the most positive areas of schizophrenia research today is in the area of identification of early risk factors for development of schizophrenia, and prevention of schizophrenia in those people who are predisposed to the disease. (source: Neuropsychiatry Review). For more information see Schizophrenia Causes and Prevention. One of the most easily avoided factors linked to development of schizophrenia are brain-altering street drugs like marijuana and cannabis.
- Schizophrenia is a disease that typically begins in early adulthood;
between the ages of 15 and 25. Men tend to get develop schizophrenia
slightly earlier than women; whereas most males become ill between 16
and 25 years old, most females develop symptoms several years later, and the incidence in women is noticably higher in women after age 30. The average age of onset is 18 in men and 25 in women. Schizophrenia
onset is quite rare for people under 10 years of age, or over 40 years
of age. The diagram below demonstrates the general "age of onset" trends for schizophrenia in men and women, from a representative study on the topic.
Source: A typological model of schizophrenia based on age at onset, sex an familial morbidity. Acta Psych8atr. Scand. 89, 135-141 (1994).
The diagram below represents the differences in needs for hospitalizations, at different ages, for men and women who have schizophrenia. As shown in the diagram, schizophrenia tends to hit younger males hardest, with a much higher rate of hospitalization required between the ages of 15 and 40. (source: Hospital data from Canada).
- The earlier that schizophrenia is diagnosed and treated, the better
the outcome of the person and the better the recovery. (Source: Yale University Medical School)
- Schizophrenia occurs in all societies regardless
of class, colour, religion, culture - however there are some variations in terms of incidence and outcomes for different groups of people. (Source: Dr. Robin Murray )
- Schizophrenia Ranks among the top 10 causes of disability in developed
countries worldwide (source:
The global burden of disease: a comprehensive assessment of mortality
and disability from diseases, injuries, and risk factors in 1990 and
projected to 2020. Cambridge, MA: Published by the Harvard School of
Public Health on behalf of the World Health Organization and the World
Bank, Harvard University Press, 1996. http://www.who.int/msa/mnh/ems/dalys/intro.htm
) For additional information See the World
Health Organization's mental health publications.
The Prevalance Rate for schizophrenia is approximately 1.1% of the
population over the age of 18 (source: NIMH)
or, in other words, at any one time as many as 51 million people worldwide
suffer from schizophrenia, including;
- 6 to 12 million people in China (a rough estimate based on the population)
- 4.3 to 8.7 million people in India (a rough estimate based on the population)
- 2.2 million people in USA
- 285,000 people in Australia
- Over 280,000 people in Canada
- Over 250,000 diagnosed cases in Britain
- Rates of schizophrenia are generally similar from country to countryabout
.5% to 1 percent of the population (there are variations - but the variance is difficult to track due to differing measuring standards in many countries, etc.).
Source: Dr. Robin Murray.
Another way to express the prevalence of schizophrenia at any give
time is the number of individuals affected per 1,000 total population.
In the United States that figure is 7.2 per 1,000. This means that
a city of 3 million people will have over 21,000 individuals suffering
Incidence: The number of people who will be diagnosed as having schizophrenia
in a year is about one in 4,000. So about 1.5 million people will
be diagnosed with schizophrenia this year, worldwide. About 100,000
people in the United States will be diagnosed with schizophrenia this
[Note: The term 'prevalence' of Schizophrenia usually refers to the
estimated population of people who are living with Schizophrenia at
any given time. The term 'incidence' of Schizophrenia refers to the
annual diagnosis rate, or the number of new cases of Schizophrenia
diagnosed each year. ]
Prevalence of schizophrenia compared to other well-known diseases
Therefore, the approximate number of people in the United States
- Schizophrenia: Over 2.2 million people
- Multiple Sclerosis: 400,000 people
- Insulin-dependent Diabetes: 350,000 people
- Muscular Dystrophy: 35,000 people
The Course of Schizophrenia
- Early intervention and early use of new medications lead to better
medical outcomes for the individual
- The earlier someone with schizophrenia is diagnosed and stabilized
on treatment, the better the long-term prognosis for their illness
- Teen suicide is a growing problem -- and teens with schizophrenia
have approximately a 50% risk of attempted suicide
- In rare instances, children as young as five can develop schizophrenia.
Anti-psychotic medications are the generally recommended treatment
for schizophrenia. If medication for schizophrenia is discontinued,
the relapse rate is about 80 percent within 2 years. With continued
drug treatment, only about 40 percent of recovered patients will suffer
relapses.( Source: NIMH)
Wide variation occurs in the course of schizophrenia. Some people
have psychotic episodes of illness lasting weeks or months with full
remission of their symptoms between each episode; others have a fluctuating
course in which symptoms are continuous but rise and fall in intensity;
others have relatively little variation in the symptoms of their illness
over time. At one end of the spectrum, the person has a single psychotic
episode of schizophrenia followed by complete recovery; at the other
end of the spectrum is a course in which the illness never abates
and debilitating effects increase. (source: Openthedoors).
Recent research increasingly shows that the disease process of schizophrenia
gradually and significantly damages the brain of the person, and that
earlier treatments (medications and other therapies) seem to result
in less damage over time (source: UCLA
NeuroImaging Lab , Other info - see
"Early Treatment" section of this page).
After 10 years, of the people diagnosed with schizophrenia:
- 25% Completely Recover
- 25% Much Improved, relatively independent
- 25% Improved, but require extensive support network
- 15% Hospitalized, unimproved
- 10% Dead (Mostly Suicide)
After 30 years, of the people diagnosed with schizophrenia:
- 25% Completely Recover
- 35% Much Improved, relatively independent
- 15% Improved, but require extensive support network
- 10% Hospitalized, unimproved
- 15% Dead (Mostly Suicide)
Where are the People with Schizophrenia?
- 6% are homeless or live in shelters
- 6% live in jails or prisons
- 5% to 6% live in Hospitals
- 10% live in Nursing homes
- 25% live with a family member
- 28% are living independently
- 20% live in Supervised Housing (group homes, etc.)
Homelessness and Schizophrenia
- Approximately 200,000 individuals with schizophrenia or manic-depressive
illness are homeless, constituting one-third of the approximately 600,000
homeless population (total homeless population statistic based on data
from Department of Health and Human Services). These 200,000 individuals
comprise more than the entire population of many U.S. cities, such as
Hartford, Connecticut; Charleston, South Carolina; Reno, Nevada; Boise,
Idaho; Scottsdale, Arizona; Orlando, Florida; Winston Salem, North Carolina;
Ann Arbor, Michigan; Abilene, Texas or Topeka, Kansas.
- At any given time, there are more people with untreated severe psychiatric
illnesses living on Americas streets than are receiving care in
hospitals. Approximately 90,000 individuals with schizophrenia or manic-depressive
illness are in hospitals receiving treatment for their disease.
The Cost of Schizophrenia to Society:
Schizophrenia, long considered the most chronic, debilitating and costly
mental illness, now consumes a total of about $63 billion a year
for direct treatment, societal and family costs. Richard Wyatt,
M.D., chief of neuropsychiatry, National
Institutes of Mental Health, has said that nearly 30 percent ($19
billion) of schizophrenia's cost involves direct treatment and the rest
is absorbed by other factors -- lost timefrom work for patients and
care givers, social services and criminal justice resources.
Wyatt said schizophrenia affects one percent of the population, accounts
for a fourth of all mental health costs and takes up one in three psychiatric
hospital beds. Since most schizophrenia patients are never able to work,
they must be supported for life by Medicaid and other forms of public
assistance. Source: NIMH
A more recent estimate of the cost of schizophrenia and other serious
mental illnesses (biplar disorder, serious depression, etc) from
Dr, E. Fuller Torrey in Q1, 2004 was that federal costs for the
care of seriously mentally ill individuals now total $41 billion
yearly and are rocketing upward at a rate of $2.6 billion a year.
More hospital beds in Canada (8%) are occupied by people with schizophrenia
than by sufferers of any other medical condition (Source: BCSS)
In the UK, in economic terms: some 80 million working days are lost
each year at a cost of £3.7 billion; the NHS spends around £1
billion on treatment and personal social services another £400
The greatest cost of schizophrenia , however, is the non-economic costs
to those who have it and their families.
Schizophrenia Ranks among the top 10 causes of disability in developed countries worldwide (source: The global burden of disease: a comprehensive assessment of mortality and disability from diseases, injuries, and risk factors in 1990 and projected to 2020. Cambridge, MA: Published by the Harvard School of Public Health on behalf of the World Health Organization and the World Bank, Harvard University Press, 1996. http://www.who.int/msa/mnh/ems/dalys/intro.htm ) For additional information See the World Health Organization's mental health publications.
Schizophrenia Research Expenditures:
Research expenditures on schizophrenia still lag far behind those on
other serious illnesses. US Government spending on research per person
- Comparison (For More information: A
Federal Failure in Psychiatric Research, November, 2003)
Research Expenditure by Disease, 1999
1999 NIH research expenditures
Individuals with this disease
research dollars per person affected
1999 NIMH expenditures by disease were provided by the NIMH
budget office, July 24, 2000. There are suggestions that
some of these expenditures are inflated. The $196.5 million
estimate for schizophrenia research in 1999, for example,
is more than 50 percent higher than the $124.3 million estimate
for 2002, recently made public by NIMH. The number of persons
affected with serious mental illness was derived by using
the “best estimate” one-year prevalence figures from the
1999 Report of the Surgeon General (op. cit., p.
47) and multiplying by the 1999 U.S. population figures
for all individuals 18 and over (202,492,000). The figure
for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder is consistent with
other prevalence figures for these disorders. However, the
figures for depression (unipolar major depression), panic
disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder clearly include
individuals with non-severe forms of these disorders. The
authors are not aware of reliable prevalence data that include
only severe forms of these disorders.
1999 NIH expenditures for other diseases were obtained from
NIH’s annual report “Research Initiatives/Programs of Interest
” for 1999, http://www4.od.nih.gov/ofm/diseases/index.stm.
The number of individuals with various cancers was obtained
from the National Cancer Institute, http://seer.cancer.gov/faststats/html/pre_all.html
(click on “Prevalence” on the left, under “Available
Statistics”) and represents complete prevalence, i.e., anyone
who has ever had that cancer who is still alive. The number
of individuals with other diseases was taken from the websites
of the various advocacy organizations
People with the condition have a 50 times higher risk of attempting
suicide than the general population; the risk of suicide is very serious
in people with schizophrenia. Suicide is the number one cause of premature
death among people with schizophrenia, with an estimated 10 percent
to 13 percent killing themselves and approximately 40% attempting suicide
at least once (and as much as 60% of males attempting suicide). The
extreme depression and psychoses that can result due to lack of treatment
are the usual causes. These suicides rates can be compared to the general
population, which is somewhere around 0.01%. (source: Treatment
Advocacy Center and other sources)
Schizophrenia and Violence
People with schizophrenia are far more likely to harm themselves than
be violent toward the public. Violence is not a symptom of schizophrenia.
News and entertainment media tend to link mental illnesses including
schizophrenia to criminal violence. Most people with schizophrenia,
however, are not violent toward others but are withdrawn and prefer
to be left alone. Drug or alcohol abuse raises the risk of violence
in people with schizophrenia, particularly if the illness is untreated,
but also in people who have no mental illness.
Schizophrenia and Jail
The vast majority of people with schizophrenia who are in jail have
been charged with misdemeanors such as trespassing.
As many as one in five (20%) of the 2.1 million Americans in jail and
prison are seriously mentally ill, far outnumbering the number of mentally
ill who are in mental hospitals, according to a comprehensive study.
The American Psychiatric Association estimated in 2000 that one in
five prisoners were seriously mentally ill, with up to 5 percent actively
psychotic at any given moment.
In 1999, the statistical arm of the Justice Department estimated that
16 percent of state and federal prisoners and inmates in jails were
suffering from mental illness. These illnesses included schizophrenia,
manic depression (or bipolar disorder) and major depression.
The figures are higher for female inmates, the report says. The Justice
Department study found that 29 percent of white female inmates, 22 percent
of Hispanic female inmates and 20 percent of black female inmates were
identified as mentally ill.
Many individuals with schizophrenia revolve between hospitals, jails
and shelters. In Illinois 30% of patiants discharged from state psychiatric
hospitals are rehospitalized within 30 days. In New York 60% of discharged
patients are rehospitalized within a year. Source: Surviving
What Percentage of Individuals with sever mental illnesses are untreated,
Recent American studies report that approximately half of all individuals
with severe mental illnesses have received no treatment for their illnesses
in the previous 12 months. These findings are consistent with other
studies of medication compliance for individuals with schizophrenia
and manic-depressive illness (bipolar disorder). The majority (55 percent)
of those not receiving treatment have no awareness of their illness
(anosognosia) and thus do not seek treatment. Stigma and dissatisfaction
with services are relatively unimportant reasons why individuals with
severe mental illnesses do not seek treatment.
The 45 percent who acknowledged that they needed treatment (and thus
had awareness of their illness) but still were not receiving treatment
cited many reasons for this. These included (respondent could check
32% "wanted to solve problem on own"
27% "thought the problem would get better by itself"
20% "too expensive"
18% "unsure about where to go for help"
17% "help probably would not do any good"
16% "health insurance would not cover treatment"
The Risks of Getting Schizophrenia
After a person has been diagnosed with schizophrenia in a family, the
chance for a sibling to also be diagnosed with schizophrenia is 7 to
9 percent. If a parent has schizophrenia, the chance for a child to
have the disorder is 10 to 15 percent. Risks increase with multiple
affected family members.