With new data about different aspects of schizophrenia being continually generated, it becomes necessary to periodically revisit exactly what we know. Along with a need to review what we currently know about schizophrenia, there is an equal imperative to evaluate the construct itself. With these objectives, we undertook an iterative, multi-phase process involving fifty international experts in the field, with each step building on learnings from the prior one. This review assembles currently established findings about schizophrenia (construct, etiology, pathophysiology, clinical expression, treatment) and posits what they reveal about its nature. Schizophrenia is a heritable, complex, multi-dimensional syndrome with varying degrees of psychotic, negative, cognitive, mood, and motor manifestations. The illness exhibits a remitting and relapsing course, with varying degrees of recovery among affected individuals with most experiencing significant social and functional impairment. Genetic risk factors likely include thousands of common genetic variants that each have a small impact on an individual's risk and a plethora of rare gene variants that have a larger individual impact on risk. Their biological effects are concentrated in the brain and many of the same variants also increase the risk of other psychiatric disorders such as bipolar disorder, autism, and other neurodevelopmental conditions. Environmental risk factors include but are not limited to urban residence in childhood, migration, older paternal age at birth, cannabis use, childhood trauma, antenatal maternal infection, and perinatal hypoxia. Structural, functional, and neurochemical brain alterations implicate multiple regions and functional circuits. Dopamine D-2 receptor antagonists and partial agonists improve psychotic symptoms and reduce risk of relapse. Certain psychological and psychosocial interventions are beneficial. Early intervention can reduce treatment delay and improve outcomes. Schizophrenia is increasingly considered to be a heterogeneous syndrome and not a singular disease entity. There is no necessary or sufficient etiology, pathology, set of clinical features, or treatment that fully circumscribes this syndrome. A single, common pathophysiological pathway appears unlikely. The boundaries of schizophrenia remain fuzzy, suggesting the absence of a categorical fit and need to reconceptualize it as a broader, multi-dimensional and/or spectrum construct.
- Clinical features
- Disease status