Story Tools: PRINT | Text Size: S M L XL | REPORT TYPO | SEND YOUR FEEDBACK

In Depth

Mental Health

Schizophrenia

FAQs

Last Updated May 3, 2007

Think of schizophrenia and your mind might wander to the movie A Beautiful Mind that chronicled the struggle of John Forbes Nash, the mathematical genius who struggled with — and overcame — schizophrenia. He was eventually awarded the Nobel Prize. The movie earned four Academy Awards.

Or you might think back to Montreal, where — in the late 1950s and early 1960s — Dr. Ewan Cameron was so driven to find a cure for schizophrenia that he subjected his patients to horrific mind control experiments funded by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.

The scientific community has struggled with this complex series of conditions that was only given a name in 1908, when psychiatrist Eugen Bleuler renamed dementia praecox, a condition identified in 1893. Bleuler determined that schizophrenia is not a form of dementia.

What is schizophrenia?

The term comes from a Greek word meaning "split mind."

The condition has no one clearcut definition. Most experts believe it is an extremely complex — and serious — mental disorder that is comprised of many illnesses. A chemical imbalance in the brain may cause symptoms.

The World Health Organization says schizophrenia affects less than one per cent of the adult population — about seven people per thousand, mostly in the age group 15-35 years. Though cases are few and far between, the prevalence is high because it is a chronic condition.

The WHO estimates that 24 million people around the world suffer from schizophrenia.

That works out to about 300,000 people in Canada, according to the Schizophrenia Society of Canada.

What are the symptoms?

There are two types of schizophrenia symptoms: positive and negative. Positive symptoms are regarded as manifestations of psychosis. Among them:

  • You become delusional — convinced of things even though they have no basis in fact and are inconsistent with your culture.
  • You hallucinate — see, hear, taste, smell or feel things that do not exist.
  • Your thoughts are unconnected, making it difficult to clearly communicate with other people.
  • Your mood changes drastically — you find it hard to express feelings or you feel empty of any emotions.
  • You can't complete mundane tasks like bathing, dressing appropriately or fixing simple meals.

Negative symptoms are the loss or absence of traits or abilities that come normally to most people. They include:

  • You become lethargic. You become far less physically active than normal.
  • You're unmotivated. You have problems finishing tasks or making long-term plans.
  • You lose interest in the feelings and lives of others.
  • You don't care how you look.

What causes schizophrenia?

No single cause has been identified.

There is evidence of a genetic link. If it's in your family, your risk of developing schizophrenia may be higher.

There is also some evidence that stressful life events may cause or trigger schizophrenic bouts.

In a study published in the May 3, 2007, issue of the journal Neuron, Toronto researcher Dr. John Roder found a malfunctioning gene can cause schizophrenia. Roder was a high-profile cancer researcher before he changed directions after his son was diagnosed with schizophrenia.

Is there a cure?

There is no cure, but schizophrenia can be managed through treatment, which is most effective when the condition is caught early.

Treatment normally consists of medication and psychosocial intervention — therapy. Drugs used are generally antipsychotic medications, although others may also be prescribed to manage the side-effects of the antipsychotic drugs or to treat other symptoms like depression, anxiety and sleep problems.

The drugs can be highly effective, but they usually have to be taken every day. If patients stop taking their medication, their symptoms will likely return. Often, those patients won't go back on their medication without outside intervention.

What is the prognosis?

It is difficult to tell. Some studies have suggested that up to a third of patients can make a full recovery. Most of the rest can manage with medication.

Do patients have to spend a lot of time in hospital?

Generally, no. Care can normally be provided at the community level, with active family and community involvement.

However, the World Health Organization estimates that more than half of people living with schizophrenia are not receiving adequate care and that 90 per cent of people going without treatment live in developing countries.

"People with schizophrenia can't advocate for themselves," Dr. John Roder, a Toronto-based schizophrenia researcher, told CBC News. "So if Terry Fox would have had schizophrenia, he wouldn't have raised any money for that disorder."

Go to the Top

Story Tools: PRINT | Text Size: S M L XL | REPORT TYPO | SEND YOUR FEEDBACK

World »

Palestinians in Gaza worry they could suffer in simmering Gulf dispute video
Tiny, oil-rich Qatar is the largest international donor to the people of the Gaza Strip. But an ongoing diplomatic dispute between the Gulf nation and Saudi Arabia and other Arab states has put many Palestinians in the coastal enclave on edge.
Cladding manufacturer to stop production of some panels after Grenfell fire
Cladding maker Arconic says it is discontinuing global sales of one type of composite paneling for high-rise buildings in the wake of the devastating fire that killed 79 people at Grenfell Tower.
U.S. Supreme Court allows partial travel ban to take effect pending appeals in October
The U.S. Supreme Court has handed a victory to President Donald Trump by narrowing the scope of lower court rulings that blocked his travel ban on people from six Muslim-majority countries, and agreeing to hear his appeals.
more »

Canada »

'Before tragedy strikes': Liberals launch centre to prevent homegrown terrorism
The federal government has launched a $35-million centre tasked with preventing the radicalization of Canadian youth.
Special Report Stolen sisters: 5 untold MMIWG stories from First Nation with most unsolved cases
CBC News traces the untold stories of five Indigenous women and girls from Sagkeeng First Nation, Man., through the eyes of the family they left behind.
Updated Ex-nurse who killed 8 seniors in her care sentenced to 8 concurrent life terms video
Former nurse Elizabeth Wettlaufer told a Woodstock, Ont., courtroom Monday that she was "extremely sorry" for killing eight nursing home patients before being sentenced to eight concurrent life terms in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years.
more »

Politics »

'Before tragedy strikes': Liberals launch centre to prevent homegrown terrorism
The federal government has launched a $35-million centre tasked with preventing the radicalization of Canadian youth.
Analysis Justin Trudeau's approval ratings down since last summer recess: polls
While Justin Trudeau's first fall and spring sittings improved his approval ratings, his second year on Parliament Hill has taken a toll.
Canadian softwood producers brace for 2nd wave of U.S. lumber duties
Canada's softwood lumber industry is bracing for a second wave of U.S. duties expected to come Monday that could put further pressure on producers, particularly smaller ones, to cut jobs.
more »

Health »

Sorry - we can't find that page
 
CBC.ca

Sorry, we can't find the page you requested.

  1. Please check the URL in the address bar, or ...
  2. Use the navigation links at left to explore our site, or ...
  3. Enter a term in the Quick Search box at top, or ...
  4. Visit our site map page

In a few moments, you will be taken to our site map page, which will help you find what you looking for.

more »

Arts & Entertainment»

Super Nintendo Classic console launches Sept. 29
Nintendo has announced the Super NES Classic console, a miniaturized version of its 16-bit console from the 1990s and a followup to last year's wildly popular NES Classic.
Salvador Dali's bones to be exhumed in Spain for paternity test
A Spanish judge has ordered the remains of artist Salvador Dali to be exhumed following a paternity suit by a woman born in the 1950s.
Happy 20th Harry! J.K. Rowling, Potterverse celebrate anniversary
'20 years ago today a world that I had lived in alone was suddenly open to others. It's been wonderful,' Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling tweeted, as fans worldwide celebrate the 20th anniversary of the young wizard's debut.
more »

Technology & Science »

HitchBOT creators to study whether robots can help patients change behaviour
The project is part of the new collaboration between IBM and Hamilton Health Sciences, which officially launched its new office space on Monday.
Canada and China sign no-hacking agreement to protect trade secrets
Canada and China have agreed not to engage in state-sponsored hacking of each other's trade secrets and business information.
10 million tonnes of fish catches dumped back into oceans: study
Fishing fleets dump about 10 per cent of the fish they catch back into the ocean in an "enormous waste" of low-value fish despite some progress in limiting discards in recent years, scientists said on Monday.
more »

Money »

Ontario pitches new rules to crack down on ticket scalping and bots
The Ontario government plans to introduce new rules this fall that would crack down on scalping tickets for sports, concert and other events at inflated prices.
Disgruntled U.S. Tim Hortons franchisees follow Canadian example, form alliance
A group representing Tim Hortons franchisees who are unhappy with the management of the coffee-and-doughnut chain says it now has a U.S. chapter, a development that could put further pressure on the parent company.
Super Nintendo Classic console launches Sept. 29
Nintendo has announced the Super NES Classic console, a miniaturized version of its 16-bit console from the 1990s and a followup to last year's wildly popular NES Classic.
more »

Consumer Life »

Sorry - we can't find that page
 
CBC.ca

Sorry, we can't find the page you requested.

  1. Please check the URL in the address bar, or ...
  2. Use the navigation links at left to explore our site, or ...
  3. Enter a term in the Quick Search box at top, or ...
  4. Visit our site map page

In a few moments, you will be taken to our site map page, which will help you find what you looking for.

more »

Sports »

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
Updated Teemu Selanne leads 2017 Hockey Hall of Fame inductees
Teemu Selanne, who scored an NHL-record 76 goals in his 1992-93 rookie season and finished his 21-year career with 684 goals, was among seven nominees announced Monday for this year's Hockey Hall of Fame induction class.
Video Monday moments: Nico Hischier goes number one, and Lance Stroll drinks from a shoe video
In this week's Monday Moments, Rob Pizzo fills you in on what happened at the NHL Entry Draft (including some big trades), and Lance Stroll makes history on the F1 track.
Canada 150 How Canada invented 'American' football, baseball, basketball and hockey
Our neighbours to the south may not want to hear this, but a case can be made that Canada more or less cooked up all of North America's "Big Four" sports.
more »

Diversions »

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
more »