What is Schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia is a disease that strikes young people in their prime.
disease distorts the senses, making it very difficult for the individual to
tell what is real from what is not real
Usual age of onset is between
16 and 25.
Schizophrenia is a medical illness. Period.
Early diagnosis and stabilization on modern treatment can greatly
prognosis for the illness.
SCHIZOPHRENIA IS NOT RARE: NO ONE
Schizophrenia is found all over the world -- in all races, in
all cultures and in all social classes
It affects 1 in 100 people
worldwide. That's approximately 40,000 of our B.C. neighbors -- or 290,000
MEN AND WOMEN ARE AFFECTED WITH EQUAL FREQUENCY
For men, the age of onset for schizophrenia is often ages 16 to 20
women, the age of onset is sometimes later -- ages 20 to 30
"We do not yet understand precisely the cause or the
causes of schizophrenia, although research is progressing rapidly."
Littmann, et al.
Researchers now agree that -- while we do not yet know
what "causes schizophrenia -- many pieces of the puzzle are becoming clearer.
Areas of study and interest are:
Biochemistry -- People with
schizophrenia appear to have a neurochemical imbalance. Thus, some researchers
study the neurotransmitters that allow communication between brain cells. Modern
anti psychotic medications now target three different neurotransmitter systems
(dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine.)
Cerebral Blood Flow -- With
modern brain imaging techniques (PET scans), researchers can identify areas that
are activated when the brain is engaged in processing information. People with
schizophrenia appear to have difficulty "coordinating" activity between
different areas of the brain. For example, when thinking or speaking, most
people show increased activity in their frontal lobes, and a lessening of
activity in the area of the brain used for listening. People with schizophrenia
show the same increase in frontal lobe activity-but there is no decrease of
activity ("dampening" or "filtering") in the other area. Researchers have also
been able to identify specific areas of unusual activity during