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 »

While millions watch the eclipse from Earth, NASA observes from the sky
While millions watch the eclipse from Earth, NASA will be watching from the sky. Data gleamed from the eclipse may help us understand and predict solar weather patterns.
1 killed in Marseille after van crashes into bus shelters
At least one person is dead and another wounded in Marseille when a van crashes into two bus shelters in different parts of the French city.
Updated Search for Barcelona van driver widens across Europe
Spanish police on Monday extended the search for the man who killed more than a dozen people in Barcelona by ramming a van into crowds to all of Europe as details emerged of how he fled on foot through the streets of the old town before disappearing.
more »

Canada »

'A remarkable battle that was largely forgotten': Hill 70 memorial set to open in France
A memorial park commemorating Canadian soldiers who died in a "remarkable" but not well known First World War battle opens next week in France.
New Amid Trans Mountain uncertainty, pro-pipeline Indigenous peoples make a pitch for development
Indigenous peoples who are decidedly pro-development want to stake their claim in the fractious pipeline debate.
International adoptions decline dramatically in Canada
The number of international adoptions has declined dramatically in Canada in the last five years due to tighter country controls, exorbitant costs and alternative routes to parenthood. Last year, there were only 793 international adoptions in Canada, according to data from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC.)
more »

Politics »

Migrants with no status in the U.S. battle anxiety as they await Trump's next move
Many illegal migrants have been allowed to stay in the U.S. without official status, but indications from the Trump administration suggest that tolerance is disappearing.
New Amid Trans Mountain uncertainty, pro-pipeline Indigenous peoples make a pitch for development
Indigenous peoples who are decidedly pro-development want to stake their claim in the fractious pipeline debate.
Analysis Mexican rush to get a deal has altered NAFTA negotiating strategy: Don Pittis
Strong political statements are part of all sides' NAFTA negotiating strategies, but a Mexican political cutoff date means everyone is in a rush to make a deal.
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»

'A genius comedian': Hollywood says goodbye to Jerry Lewis video
Comedians in Hollywood are paying tribute to one of their own and a trailblazer in slapstick, Jerry Lewis.
CBC Investigates Hollywood stars, dancers and Trump — The Leibovitz collection Nova Scotia owns but can't display
The catalogue of the Leibovitz Book Collection, obtained by CBC News, includes a wide range of subjects from Hollywood celebrities, artists and Olympians to writers and political leaders.
Broadway ticket-buying now easier for fans, not re-sellers
A new online verification system aims to keep more tickets in the hands of fans rather than re-sellers who seemingly snap them up and put them on the market for higher prices.
more »

Technology & Science »

Millions prepare to watch rare total solar eclipse video
For a few moments on Monday, millions will experience a rare total eclipse across the continental U.S., and millions more in Canada will get a chance to witness a partial eclipse.
Solar eclipse transforms tiny Oregon town into red hot tourist destination
On Monday, the Oregon town of Madras — a two-hour drive from Portland — is expected to swell to about 100,000 people, as visitors jostle their way in to get a glimpse of the first total solar eclipse to sweep across the continental U.S. in 99 years.
INTERACTIVE Check how much of the solar eclipse you'll see from your city
Use this interactive tool to see what the solar eclipse on Aug. 21 will look like for you.
more »

Money »

Analysis Mexican rush to get a deal has altered NAFTA negotiating strategy: Don Pittis
Strong political statements are part of all sides' NAFTA negotiating strategies, but a Mexican political cutoff date means everyone is in a rush to make a deal.
First round of NAFTA talks wrap in Washington
Canada, the United States and Mexico wrapped up their first round of talks Sunday to revamp the NAFTA trade pact, vowing to keep up a blistering pace of negotiations that some involved in the process said may be too fast to bridge deep differences.
Canadian re-commerce company LXRandCo taking luxury vintage shopping into the future video
Step aside, cheap chic and fast fashion: Luxury vintage resale is one of the fastest growing segments in retail. And a Canadian company is one of the world's leaders.
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]
Canadian Little Leaguers have a day to remember in Williamsport
All week, the Canadian players from White Rock, B.C., have described their experiences at the Little League World Series thus far as surreal, amazing and unbelievable. Sunday was all of those things — truly the ultimate baseball day.
Video Canada wins gold in the women's 4x100 freestyle relay at Summer Universiade video
Canada beat the Russians by 0.18 seconds to win their first medal in Taipei City.
Recap Little League World Series: Canada scores big win over Venezuela video
Pitcher Reid Hefflick struck out seven batters, hit a homer and drove in three runs to help lift Canada to a 7-3 win over Venezuela on Sunday at the Little League World Series.
more »

Diversions »

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
more »