Schizophrenia Disorder is a mental illness that occurs worldwide, affecting 21 million of people. The lifetime prevalence of schizophrenia is estimated to be 0.3% – 0.7% approximately, varying across countries (DSM-5; American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Incidents per year are about 1.5 per 10.000 people, while it is more common among men than among women (ratio 1.4:1) (McGrath, Saha, Chant & Welham, 2008). In spite of its relatively low prevalence, schizophrenia is ranked the 8th most disabling illness among all illnesses of the age range of 15-44, contributing significantly into the global illness burden (World Health Organization [WHO], 2001).
People with Schizophrenia Disorder are 2 to 2.5 times more at risk of premature death mainly due to comorbiding chronic conditions associated with lifestyle behaviour characterised by reduced activity and poor quality of diet, such as diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular and pulmonary illnesses. Stigma pertaining to schizophrenia and to other psychotic disorders is possibly the worst among other illnesses, however schizophrenia is also treatable, from which the majority of patients (approximately 80%) fully recover or can lead meaningful and productive lives (AlAqeel & Margolese, 2012; Harding, C. M., 1988). Effective treatment is usually the integration of pharmacotherapy, psychotherapy and psychosocial support interventions.
Schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders are characterized by the presence of the namely “positive” (delusions or/and hallucinations) and “negative” symptoms. The “positive symptoms” of psychosis are called “positive” because these can be conceptualized as being exerted levels of normal functions. Common positive symptoms include delusions of persecution and auditory hallucinations. Accordingly, the “negative symptoms” can be considered as diminution of normal functioning, as is anhedonia (inability to feel pleasure), avolition (diminished volition), alogia (diminished speech) and flattened affect. Negative symptoms are also present in other psychopathological conditions, such as in Major Depression Disorder and plenty others (Hovington & Lepage, 2012). The assessment of symptoms and diagnosis of psychotic disorders require mental health clinical expertise.
AlAqeel, B. & Margolese, H. C. (2012). Remission in schizophrenia: critical and systematic review. Harvard Review of Psychiatry, 20(6), pp. 281-297. doi: 10.3109/10673229.2012.747804
American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.) Washington, DC; London, England: American Psychiatric Publishing.
Harding, C. M. (1988). Course types in schizophrenia: An analysis of European and American studies. Schizophrenia Bulletin, 14(4), pp. 633-643. doi: 10.1093/schbul/14.4.633
Hovington, C.L. & Lepage, M. (2012). Neurocognition and neuroimaging of persistent negative symptoms of schizophrenia. Expert Rev Neurother, 12(1), 53-69. doi: 10.1586/ern.11.173.
McGrath, J., Saha, S., Welham, J., El Saadi, O., MacCauley, C. & Chant, D. (2004). A systematic review of the incidence of schizophrenia: the distribution of rates and the influence of sex, urbanicity, migrant status and methodology. BMC Medicine, 28, pp. 2-13. doi: 10.1186/1741-7015-2-13
World Health Organization. (2001). The world health report 2001. Mental Health. New Understanding. New Hope. Geneva WHO. Retrieved from http://www.int/whr/2001/en