Schizophrenia and Psychotic Syndromes
Published: 2010-08-29 - Updated: 2022-08-11
Author: European College of Neuropsychopharmacology | Contact: ECNP.eu
Peer-Reviewed Publication: Yes
Additional References: Psychological Disorders Publications
Synopsis: Schizophrenia and related psychotic disorders are a chronic and often disabling condition. The diagnosis of schizophrenia is associated with demonstrable alterations in brain structure and changes in neurotransmission, with increased dopamine action being directly related to typical positive symptoms such as hallucinations and delusions. Around 2-3% of adolescents and young adults will develop a psychotic disorder. Many will experience successive episodes throughout their lives, with the progressive deterioration that leaves them persistently symptomatic and functionally impaired.
Schizophrenia is a mental disorder characterized by continuous or relapsing episodes of psychosis. Significant symptoms include hallucinations (typically hearing voices), delusions, paranoia, and disorganized thinking. Schizophrenia is a severe mental disorder in which people interpret reality abnormally. Schizophrenia may result in hallucinations, delusions, and extremely disordered thinking and behavior that impairs daily functioning and can be disabling. People with schizophrenia may seem like they have lost touch with reality, which can be distressing for them and their family and friends. The symptoms of schizophrenia can make it challenging to participate in usual, everyday activities, but effective treatments are available.
Press conference on the occasion of the 23rd ECNP Congress, Aug. 29, 2010, Amsterdam.
Schizophrenia and related psychotic disorders are chronic and often disabling. Despite modern treatment techniques, they still present an enormous burden to the patients and their relatives and take a serious toll on human suffering and societal expenditure.
The diagnosis of schizophrenia is associated with demonstrable alterations in brain structure and changes in neurotransmission, with increased dopamine action being directly related to typical positive symptoms such as hallucinations and delusions.
Negative symptoms include restricted range and intensity of emotional expression, reduced thought and speech, and social withdrawal.
In general, schizophrenia presents a bewildering complexity of symptoms in multiple domains in great heterogeneity and variability within individuals over time.
Psychotic symptoms typically emerge in adolescence and early adulthood, although late-onset cases (in patients aged over 40 years) have been identified.
Around 2-3% of adolescents and young adults will develop a psychotic disorder. Many will experience successive episodes throughout their lives, with the progressive deterioration that leaves them persistently symptomatic and functionally impaired.
In most industrialized countries 1-2 years pass before adequate treatment is initiated.
Research indicates that delayed access to health services and treatment is associated with slower or less complete recovery and increased risk of relapse in the subsequent two years (Falkai et al., 2005).
Even today, psychotic disorders remain highly stigmatized, and despite the young age of the patients and the long-term service dependence often are not prioritized in the public health plan.
Falkai P, Wobrock T, Lieberman J, et al. World Federation of Societies of Biological Psychiatry (WFSBP) Guidelines for Biological Treatment of Schizophrenia. The World Journal of Biological Psychiatry 2005;6:132-191
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