It is estimated that, in Quebec, 1 to 2% of the population is affected by schizophrenia.
In our service sector, this amounts to around 4,000 people.
Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that causes the individual to lose touch with reality. It affects the brain, and it can cause a disturbance in certain mental functions. It isn’t a “disease of the soul” or a double personality, nor is it manifest apathy on the individual’s part. It is a rather a “defect” in the functioning of certain neuronal circuits. Individuals with schizophrenia are too often stigmatized in society as the result of a poor understanding of the illness.
Schizophrenia has two types of symptoms: positive and negative. Each individual presents these symptoms in various ways. Positive or acute symptoms generally appear in early adulthood, between the ages of 17 and 23 in men and between 21 and 27 in women. They are called “positive” because they are added to one’s general psyche; their manifestation, which was not there before, is abnormal.
Positive symptoms: Hallucinations, delusional ideas, incoherent language and illogical discourse, exaggerated preoccupations, aggressive behaviour, agitation, a lack of self-awareness.
Positive symptoms can be observed more clearly, making them easier to identify.
Negative symptoms: Lack of motivation and interest, social withdrawal, apathy and lethargy, ambivalence and difficulty making decisions.
While they are often the first to appear, negative symptoms can be harder to identify, as they can often be confused with those of depression.
When a loved one begins to show these symptoms, it can generally bring about a multitude of questions and cause a lot of stress, as much for the individual as for their friends and family.
Recent scientific research tends to see schizophrenia as being due, in part, to genetics. Certain individuals are predisposed (they are neuropsychologically vulnerable) to developing the illness when triggered by a stress factor in their lives.
The most effective treatment for schizophrenia involves a combination of antipsychotics, psychological treatment, and rehabilitation to help the individual function in society. And research has shown that commencing early intervention and treatment, at the onset of symptoms, is key for optimal results. More and more people living with schizophrenia are able to live a satisfying life and achieve their potential.