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Schizophrenia statistics 2021

What is schizophrenia? | How common is schizophrenia? | Schizophrenia statistics in the U.S. | Schizophrenia statistics by race-ethnicity | Schizophrenia and violence | Co-occurring disorders | Schizophrenia treatment | Research

The word “schizophrenia” comes from Greek origins, with “schizo” meaning “split” and “phrene” meaning “mind.” Schizophrenia is different from dissociative identity disorder, previously known as split personality disorder, which is a common misconception. There are many symptoms of schizophrenia, and individuals can experience them in different ways. Schizophrenia statistics show that the severe mental illness usually develops in early adulthood and although symptoms are worse at the onset of the condition, treatment of schizophrenia is available and effective.

What is schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a chronic and severe mental disorder that affects a person’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. This disorder affects a person’s perception of reality, social interactions, and thought processes. Symptoms of schizophrenia include hallucinations—which may be visual or auditory (seeing things that aren’t there, hearing voices)—delusions, cognitive impairment manifesting as an unusual way of thinking or disorganized speech, and difficulty in social relationships. Scientists have found that certain chemical imbalances in the brain, genetic traits, and environmental factors such as early life stress are risk factors for schizophrenia. The major types of schizophrenia include paranoid schizophrenia, catatonic schizophrenia, undifferentiated schizophrenia, and schizoaffective disorder.

“Research suggests a combination of physical, genetic, psychological, and environmental factors can make a person more likely to develop the condition,” says Judy Ho, Ph.D., a clinical neuropsychologist based in California and host of SuperCharged Life podcast. “The condition runs in families, but no single gene has been found to be responsible.”

Schizophrenia symptoms

Negative symptoms are those that take away behaviors or processes that are considered normal. Melissa Mueller-Douglas, LMSW, a therapist on the University of Rochester Medical Center’s Strong Ties Project ACT Team describes these symptoms:

  • Poverty of speech: Minimal speech or giving short-responses to questions.
  • Anhedonia: Lack of pleasure from things they used to enjoy, decreasing interests. This leads to decreased involvement in a person’s community, affecting quality of life.
  • Affect deficits: A significantly reduced intensity in emotional expression. This can affect personal relationships with family and friends.
  • Lack of motivation: A person may not have the internal motivation to follow through with tasks in everyday life, such as getting ready in the morning.

The symptoms of schizophrenia can impact the flow of everyday life such as, “their ability to work, have functional relationships, or take care of themselves,” says Ho. “Individuals with floridly psychotic states almost always see their activities of daily functioning fall to the wayside and they often times will need structured intervention (i.e., via psychiatrist or psychologist) for most of their lives to keep symptoms at bay and to make sure their [support] team is in place in case they have a resurgence.”

How common is schizophrenia?

  • Schizophrenia affects 20 million people worldwide. (Global Burden of Disease, 2017)
  • The annual number of new cases of schizophrenia is 1.5 per 10,000 people. (Epidemiol Reviews, 2008)
  • Schizophrenia is one of the top 15 leading causes of disability worldwide. (Global Burden of Disease, 2016)
  • Approximately 5% of people with schizophrenia die by suicide, usually with a higher risk at the onset of the mental illness. (Archives of General Psychiatry, 2005)
  • About 20% of people with schizophrenia attempt suicide at least once. (The Recovery Village, 2020)

Schizophrenia statistics in the United States

  • The prevalence of schizophrenia among U.S adults is estimated to be 1.5 million people per year. (National Alliance on Mental Illness, 2019)
  • Schizophrenia is often diagnosed in young people during their late teens to early 30s with symptoms commonly presenting earlier in males than in females. (National Institute of Mental Health, 2018)
  • The average life lost for individuals with schizophrenia in the U.S. is 28.5 years. (JAMA Psychiatry, 2015)

Psychotic symptoms and schizophrenia diagnosis by race-ethnicity

  • The lifetime prevalence of self-reported psychotic symptoms is highest in black Americans (21.1%), Latino Americans (19.9%), and white Americans (13.1%). (Psychiatric Services, 2013)
  • The lifetime prevalence of self-reported psychotic symptoms is lowest in Asian Americans (5.4%). (Psychiatric Services, 2013)
  • Research has found that black Americans are three to four times more likely than white Americans to receive a Schizophrenia diagnosis. (World Journal of Psychiatry, 2014)

Schizophrenia and violence statistics

  • Patients diagnosed with schizophrenia are four to six times more likely to commit a violent crime than the general population. (International Journal of Clinical Neurosciences and Mental Health, 2015)
  • 6% of homicide acts are committed by schizophrenia patients in Western countries. (International Journal of Clinical Neurosciences and Mental Health, 2015)
  • One study in Sweden found that 13.2% of patients with schizophrenia had at least one violent offense. (Journal of the American Medical Association, 2009)
  • Within the first five years of a schizophrenia (or related) diagnosis, 10.7% of men and 2.7% of women were convicted of a violent offense in Sweden. (Lancet Psychiatry, 2014)
  • The rate of violent offense among patients with schizophrenia and related disease was nearly five times higher than among their siblings and almost seven times higher than matched individuals in the general population in Sweden. (Lancet Psychiatry, 2014)

Co-occurring disorders and schizophrenia

People with schizophrenia can also have co-occurring medical conditions. The following figures represent the percentage of people with schizophrenia that have the specified co-occurring mental health issue:

  • Depressive symptoms: 30%-54%
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder: 29%
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder: 23%
  • Panic disorder: 15%

(The Recovery Village, 2020)

Treating schizophrenia

Unfortunately, the minority of people with schizophrenia (31%) have been identified as receiving healthcare, suggesting more than two-thirds are suffering from a gap in treatment; the highest percentage of people not receiving care were found to fall into the lowest income population, according to the Bulletin of the World Health Organization.

“Almost every individual who is diagnosed with schizophrenia will require medication treatment, usually with an antipsychotic medication,” says Ho. She says that atypical antipsychotics can manage symptoms of schizophrenia such as hallucinations and delusions.

“Currently, clozapine is the most effective antipsychotic in terms of managing treatment-resistant schizophrenia, and many times, patients will have to go through at least a couple of different medication trials to find the right type of medication and dosage for them,” Ho explains.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) with a mental health professional is the most effective in treating schizophrenic patients, according to Ho. She explains that CBT teaches a patient how to manage their thoughts and behaviors as well as identify triggers for a psychotic episode.

Early intervention can have a significant impact on people with schizophrenia. Schizophrenia symptoms are often worse in the early stages of the illness, which is when the risk of suicide is highest. The majority of people with schizophrenia get better over time, not worse. In fact, 20% of people will get better within five years of developing symptoms. Because schizophrenia may be genetic, people with family members who have schizophrenia or a history of psychotic symptoms may seek mental health services to detect schizophrenia and begin treatment as early as possible.  

Schizophrenia research