Schizophrenia is a chronic mental illness that is characterized by auditory and visual hallucinations as well as distortions in thinking, language, and behavior. It’s not uncommon for individuals with this condition to exhibit disorganized behavior or to hold fast to false beliefs even in the face of clear evidence to the contrary.
According to the Schizophrenia and Related Disorders Alliance of America, as many as 3.5 million Americans have been diagnosed with this illness. Unfortunately, as many as half of those diagnosed have not received treatment. Yet, schizophrenia is a treatable mental condition. Tracking schizophrenia disorder statistics is vital in order to promote awareness of this illness and to prompt healthcare organizations and governments worldwide to focus on serving this demographic that is frequently stigmatized and unable to access quality medical treatment.
National Statistics on the Prevalence of Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia stats suggest that in a given year, roughly 100,000 people will be diagnosed with this disorder in the U.S. To date, there are as many as 3.5 million cases of schizophrenia that have been diagnosed. To put these schizo statistics in context, that means that in a city of three million people, about 21,000 are living with schizophrenia. These stats don’t take into account the thousands who are undiagnosed. In certain stages of the disease, it can be difficult to diagnose and many individuals may be unaware that they are suffering from any type of disorder as schizophrenia affects a person’s perceptions of themselves and the world around them.
How Does Schizophrenia Rank in Prevalence with Other Mental Disorders
According to estimates from Johns Hopkins, about 26 percent of Americans who are 18 or over (roughly one in four adults) will suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a single year. Some people may even suffer from more than one mental or mood disorder at a time. To put U.S. schizophrenia statistics in context with other mental health conditions, consider these numbers:
Taken together, more than 46 million Americans will experience a mental health disorder in a given year.
The National Institute of Mental Health reports that males tend to be diagnosed with schizophrenia in their late teens or early twenties. Females are more frequently diagnosed with the condition in their early twenties to early thirties. According to the World Health Organization, schizophrenia affects more men than women— but not by much. Additionally, this mental health condition affects people of every race/ethnic group. In fact, the percentage of those affected, about one percent, remains consistent from group to group.
Deaths Related to Schizophrenia
Research indicates that people with schizophrenia are 3.5 times more likely to die than similarly aged individuals in the general population in a single year. In general, people who have schizophrenia are likely to die 25 years earlier than people in the general population. The large majority of deaths in schizophrenia patients is from natural causes— other health conditions (i.e. cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, etc) and infectious diseases. Even so, people with schizophrenia suffer elevated rates of suicide and fatal accidents. Some of these schizophrenia-related deaths are medically understandable; for instance, a majority of Americans with schizophrenia smoke. Smoking, of course, is related to a heightened risk for lung and other cancers as well as cardiovascular disease.
As mentioned, about half of people with schizophrenia do not get treatment. And, yet, treatment is highly effective. Even though there is no cure for schizophrenia, symptoms can be effectively managed with treatment. Medication helps reduce symptoms, and assisted living, supportive housing, and supported employment can also help people stay connected to their communities and medical treatment plans. Sadly, many living with schizophrenia are homeless. Studies show that as many as one-half of homeless people have this mental health disorder. Without a home or support, many schizophrenia sufferers are unable to access medical care.
How Common is Schizophrenia Globally?
The World Health Organization estimates that about 20 million people worldwide are currently living with schizophrenia. Schizophrenia statistics worldwide indicate, as mentioned, that the condition affects about one percent of a given population. While about half of people with schizophrenia in the U.S. receive no treatment, that statistic is worse in other nations where nearly 70 percent of the schizophrenia population receives no treatment to manage the condition.
There have been some studies that point to the prevalence of the condition being higher/lower in certain areas of the world. For instance, The Netherlands has a higher prevalence of schizophrenia diagnoses than other European nations. North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, and the Middle East have a slightly lower prevalence of the condition than other global regions. However, these statistics do not take into account the disparities in medical care. In short, many people in developing countries may simply not access medical care, so remain undiagnosed.
Public Opinion / Perception of Schizophrenia
Worldwide, people diagnosed with schizophrenia face stigma and discrimination. The stigma associated with schizophrenia can delay a diagnosis as many people may hesitate to discuss their symptoms— even with a healthcare provider. Although this stigma has been challenged in the U.S., it still exists in much of the rest of the world. Family members may attempt to keep the diagnosis of a loved one’s schizophrenia secret. In developed nations like the U.S., however, a clearer understanding of the illness and its symptoms has reduced the stigma. Given the rate of homelessness among this population, however, more support must be allocated to this segment of the population.
What are the Healthcare Costs of Schizophrenia?
In the United States, the cost for direct medical care (i.e. hospitalizations/medications/doctor appointments) is in excess of $22 billion per year. This cost does not reflect other supportive measures such as assisted living programs designed to help people with this condition manage their illness and obtain employment. Schizophrenia is also associated with an elevated disability rate. Many individuals are unable to support themselves or pay for medical care.
Living with Schizophrenia Statistics
Only about 15 percent of people diagnosed with schizophrenia are able to work full time. This means that they are likely to struggle with paying rent or a mortgage. They are likely to struggle to pay for healthcare insurance. These are some of the reasons why so many individuals with schizophrenia are homeless. Yet, with ongoing treatment and a comprehensive array of support, people with schizophrenia can lead happy, productive lives. When their symptoms are in check, people with schizophrenia can function well in society.
The key to managing schizophrenia optimally is to obtain medical care at a facility that specializes in mental and behavioral health conditions. Like many mental health disorders, schizophrenia typically requires multiple types of support that include therapy, medication, and holistic support. Given this multi-tiered support, schizophrenia patients can expect to enjoy excellent disease management, allowing them to lead fulfilling lives.