Press Release Archive
Facts On Schizophrenia
Mary Rappaport 703/312-7886
Valerie Rheinstein 703/516-7963
|For Immediate Release
22 Jan 98
· Schizophrenia is a brain disorder that affects approximately two million Americans today. Schizophrenia can affect anyone at any age, but most cases develop between adolescence and age 30. Children can be affected by schizophrenia, but this is uncommon.
· Schizophrenia impairs a person's ability to think clearly, manage his or her emotions, make decisions, and relate to others.
· The symptoms of schizophrenia are generally divided into three categories, including positive, disorganized and negative symptoms.
· Disorganized Symptoms include confused thinking and speech, and behavior that does not make sense. For example, people with schizophrenia sometimes have trouble communicating in coherent sentences or carry on conversations; move more slowly, repeat rhythmic gestures or make ritualistic movements such as walking in circles; and have a hard time making sense of everyday sights, sounds and feelings.
· Negative Symptoms include emotional flatness or lack of expression, an inability to start and follow through with activities, speech that is brief and lacks content, and a lack of pleasure or interest in life. "Negative" does not, therefore, refer to a person's attitude, but to a lack of certain characteristics that should be there.
· Although the cause of schizophrenia has not yet been identified, recent research suggests that schizophrenia involves problems with brain chemistry and brain structure. Scientists are currently investigating viral infections, mild brain damage from complications during birth, and genetic predisposition as possible factors.
· While there is no cure for schizophrenia, it is a highly treatable disease. In fact, the treatment success rate for schizophrenia is 60 percent, compared with 41-52 percent for heart patients.
· Antipsychotic drugs are used in the treatment of schizophrenia. These medications help relieve the delusions, hallucinations, and thinking problems associated with this devastating disorder. These drugs appear to work by correcting an imbalance in the chemicals that help brain cells communicate with each other. As with drug treatments for other physical illnesses, many patients with severe mental illnesses may need trials of several different antipsychotic medications before they find the one, or the combination of medications, that work best for them.
· Atypical Antipsychotics are newer drugs with fewer side effects and include: risperidone (Risperdal); clozapine (Clozaril); olanzapine (Zyprexa) and sertindole (Serlect).
· Less common side effects: decreased sexual desire, menstrual changes, stiff muscles on one side of the neck and jaw.
· More serious side effects: restlessness, muscle stiffness, slurred speech, tremors of the hands or feet, and a deficiency of a type of white blood cell (when taking clozapine) that requires monitoring.
· Despite media focus on the exceptions, individuals receiving treatment for schizophrenia are no more prone to violence than the general public. Unfortunately, almost one-third of all U.S. jails incarcerate people with severe mental illnesses who have no charges against them, but are merely waiting for psychiatric evaluation or the availability of a psychiatric hospital bed.