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 »

CBC IN NEW HAMPSHIRE Donald Trump wins, with a welcome Republican logjam behind him video
Donald Trump scored a solid victory in New Hampshire's primary Tuesday night and his top rivals finished so close together they dashed the hopes of the Republican establishment wing that a clear alternative would emerge out of the Granite State.
Analysis Message to Putin as U.S. ups NATO ante in Eastern Europe
Lost in the media focus on Syria was the fact that the U.S. just upped its NATO spending and added a brigade worth of armour to Eastern Europe. It's not checkmate, Vladimir Putin, but big pieces are being moved around, Brian Stewart writes.
German police say all train passengers accounted for in deadly crash video
Police say they are no longer looking for a missing person in the train crash that has killed 10 and injured dozens in a rural area in southern Germany.
more »

Canada »

Jian Ghomeshi trial could deter women from reporting sexual assault
Sexual assault survivors and their advocates are worried that fewer women may be willing to report assaults after widespread media coverage of the harsh cross-examinations of complainants at the Jian Ghomeshi trial.
Mike Duffy files Senate paperwork ahead of fraud trial decision
Senator Mike Duffy has submitted an updated disclosure form to the Senate ethics office, a move required to keep senators in good standing and one that could be laying the ground work for his return to the upper chamber.
Puppy mill bust one of the largest ever in B.C., says SPCA
Sixty-six suffering dogs were seized from a Langley, B.C., breeder on Feb. 4 in what the SPCA has described as one of the largest puppy mill seizures in the province.
more »

Politics »

Mike Duffy files Senate paperwork ahead of fraud trial decision
Senator Mike Duffy has submitted an updated disclosure form to the Senate ethics office, a move required to keep senators in good standing and one that could be laying the ground work for his return to the upper chamber.
Analysis Do Canadians want to end the ISIS bombing mission? It depends audio
A spate of recent polls have offered contradictory information about Canadians' views of of the anti-ISIS mission in the Middle East. What to make of these discrepancies? Poll analyst Eric Grenier tries to make some sense of it.
Canadians think referendum on electoral reform needs to be held, poll says
Canadians overwhelmingly feel there should be a referendum on any electoral reform, suggests a new poll. But first-past-the-post voting retains a high level of satisfaction. Will Canadians care if the Liberals follow through on their campaign promise to change the way they vote?
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»

Video One Thing Leads to Another, theatre show for babies, aims to charm infant audiences video
An intimate and interactive new stage production is captivating a very specific audience in Toronto: babies. One Thing Leads to Another, aimed at infants as young as three months old, is part of a new wave of stimulating productions created just for babies and toddlers.
Ken Watanabe, battling stomach cancer, bows out of Broadway run
A publicist for Ken Watanabe says the Tony- and Oscar-nominated actor has been forced to delay his return to Broadway's The King and I while he battles stomach cancer.
Waris Ahluwalia satisfied with Aeromexico's apology over turban dispute
Sikh actor and designer says he was not allowed to board a Mexico City-to-New York flight because he refused to remove his turban.
more »

Technology & Science »

ASTRO-H X-ray telescope aims to solve black hole mysteries
A Japanese space telescope with X-ray vision sharpened by Canadian technology heads into orbit on Friday. Canadian scientists believe it will help them solve longstanding mysteries about black holes and supernovas.
New Netflix border crackdown cuts off some customers, but unblocking services fight back
Netflix really is cracking down on cross-border watchers. Meanwhile, unblocking companies that aid virtual travellers are fighting back. Some are even declaring victory in the battle to keep Netflix’s borders wide open.
Gravitational waves: Why they're such a big deal
Scientists will make a much-anticipated announcement Thursday about the hunt for gravitational waves, ripples in space time predicted by Einstein's general theory of relativity 100 years ago, but not yet found. Here's why it might be a really big deal.
more »

Money »

New Netflix border crackdown cuts off some customers, but unblocking services fight back
Netflix really is cracking down on cross-border watchers. Meanwhile, unblocking companies that aid virtual travellers are fighting back. Some are even declaring victory in the battle to keep Netflix’s borders wide open.
CPP reform is needed, say groups representing younger, older Canadians
Recent discussions by the country's finance ministers to examine possible reforms to the Canada Pension Plan have put changes to one of Canada retirement pillars back in the public eye.
Porter Airlines denies report it's shopping for a buyer
Toronto-based Porter Airlines has denied a report that it is looking for a buyer.
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]
Martin Brodeur honoured by Devils with jersey retirement video
The New Jersey Devils retired Martin Brodeur's No. 30 jersey during a pre-game ceremony Tuesday, with the sellout crowd serenading the NHL's winningest goalie and giving the future Hall of Famer a standing ovation that lasted more than two minutes.
Dion Phaneuf traded to Senators in 9-player deal video
The Toronto Maple Leafs have traded high-priced defenceman Dion Phaneuf to the rival Ottawa Senators as part of a massive deal involving nine players and a draft pick announced Tuesday.
How Canadian NHL teams fared last night video
The Ottawa Senators were the only Canadian team not in action last night with the Canadiens and the Flames carrying the momentum of victories while the Oilers, Canucks and Leafs hoped to return to winning ways. Here's how they fared.
more »

Diversions »

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
more »