The Occurrence of Schizophrenia

by Michael_Koger

Schizophrenia is a well-known psychiatric condition which has been present for many centuries.

Schizophrenia is a chronic mental illness in which the patient may present with a variety of abnormalities. Specifically, there is a distorted perception of reality, and the person may hear voices, see things, or smell unusual odors which others cannot. They may also experience delusions which lead them to believe that people are cheating, spying, or plotting against them [2].

The delusions may cause them to think that people can read or control their thoughts, and these clients may believe that they receive communication from beings on other planets via television or radio devices in the home. It is one of several psychotic conditions, and those with schizophrenia will have it for the lifetime [1, 2].

Adolescents who have schizophrenia may become withdrawn and display school problems. They may become irritable and have difficulty with sleep. However, many of these emotional changes occur in teenagers who do not have mental illness, and it is important to make the proper diagnosis.

Distribution of Schizophrenia

Worldwide, schizophrenia affects one percent of the population, and it appears to occur equally in men and women.  It affects individuals of all racial and ethnic groups.  In the United States, there are 2.4 million people with the disease [1].  In most cases, clinical signs and symptoms become evident in the adolescent or young adult years although some patients will attempt to hide or withhold their experiences from family members [2].

Twentieth Century Deinstitutionalization

The development of medication to treat these patients has dramatically changed medical management of the disease over the last century.  During the middle of the 20th century, mental hospitals were able to discharge thousands of these clients to the community as antipsychotic medication brought remarkable improvement in their clinical signs and symptoms [2].

The change from long-term inpatient care of psychiatric patients to outpatient treatment in the community was essentially a process of deinstitutionalization, and it enabled many of them to return to work and interact with family members and friends.

Origins of Schizophrenia

As with other psychiatric conditions, schizophrenia has biologic, genetic, and environmental causes.  The degree to which each of these influences occurs will vary with the patient.  However, clinical studies have suggested that the occurrence of the disease is higher in families where someone already has the condition than in those without mental illness.  This is true for first and second degree relatives [2].


In conclusion, schizophrenia is a complex mental health condition, and much progress has taken place in its management.  The involvement of family, community members, health care team, and many others is necessary to afford the best prognosis for these clients.


  1. National Alliance on Mental Illness.  (2013).  What is schizophrenia?  Retrieved October 19, 2013.
  2. National Institute of Mental Health.  (2013).  Schizophrenia.  Retrieved October 19, 2013.
  3. The photo shows a San Salvador field station of the Centers for Disease Control.  Reprinted with permission from Centers for Disease Control/Judith Faulk. 


The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be used for diagnosis or to guide treatment without the opinion of a health professional. Any reader who is concerned about his or her health should contact their physician for advice.

Updated: 10/22/2013, Michael_Koger
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Michael_Koger on 02/04/2015

There is, as you know, much information about schizophrenia and other mental diseases. Diagnosis can be a challenge as controversy over these conditions is well-known.

cazort on 02/04/2015

I've read that there is fairly strong evidence now that Schizophrenia isn't a single, well-defined disorder, but rather, is a family of distinct conditions that have historically been lumped in together under the same category. I'd be curious to hear if you have heard of this, and maybe to see this new information integrated into this page!

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