WHO lists schizophrenia as one of the top 10 disorders contributing to the global burden of disease. Schizophrenia usually begins when patients are young and continues to a greater or lesser extent throughout their lives. The prevalence is estimated at 1% of the global population.
The hallmarks of schizophrenia include hallucinations, delusions, disorganized thinking, and “negative” symptoms such as emotional and cognitive blunting. Motor disturbances range from uncontrolled, aimless activity to catatonic stupor, in which the patient may be immobile, mute, and unresponsive, yet fully conscious. Also common are repetitive, purposeless mannerisms and an inability to complete goal-directed tasks. Patients with schizophrenia may have other mental health conditions, such as major depression and anxiety disorders. Alternatively, manifestations of schizophrenia can be confused with symptoms of depression or anxiety. The lifetime occurrence of substance abuse in individuals with this disorder is approximately 50%. Associated illnesses include schizophreniform disorder, in which schizophrenic manifestations occur for less than 6 months, and brief psychotic disorder, which lasts less than 1 month. Patients with schizoaffective disorder have a significant mood disorder, such as depression, in addition to the psychotic manifestations.
Excerpted from BCSC 2020-2021 series: Section 1 - Update on General Medicine. For more information and to purchase the entire series, please visit https://www.aao.org/bcsc.