Approximately 0.5-1% of the population will develop SZ over their lifetime. The condition commonly begins in early adulthood between the ages of 15 to 25, with slightly earlier onset in men than women. Other mental health conditions often occur alongside SZ, including depression, anxiety and substance use disorders.
According to the World Health Organization, SZ is one of the top 10 causes of disability in developed countries worldwide.
It is not currently known exactly what causes SZ. A commonly supported theory proposes that the condition arises through a combination of biological, psychological, and social factors. In particular, certain genes are thought to contribute to an increased risk of developing the condition, as well as changes in brain function.
Psychological and social factors are equally important, with a history of stressful or traumatic life experiences frequently associated with developing SZ. It can also be triggered by the use of psychoactive substances, such as cannabis.
People with SZ can vary in the symptoms they have. These include:
- Irrational or illogical beliefs
- Paranoia or suspicion of others
- Hearing voices or other modes of hallucinations
- Thinking difficulties, such as poor memory and decision making
- Jumbled or disjointed thoughts or speech
- Feeling emotionally flat or dull
- Difficulties with motivation, lack of interest or social withdrawal
SZ is a treatable condition with up to 3 in 10 people showing lasting recovery, and 1 in 5 showing significant improvement. Treatment often involves a combination of medication, psychological therapy, and help with daily living skills.
This is most often managed in the community, to help people with SZ cope with their symptoms, and live independent and fulfilling lives.