Experts Worry on Rising Incidence of Schizophrenia

Experts at the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan have shown worry on the rising incidence of Schizophrenia, mental disorder that affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves in Oyo state.

Consultant Psychiatrists, Professors Oye Gureje and Craig Morgan in a collaborative international study with partners at the University of the West Indies in Trinidad and the Schizophrenia Research Foundation in India have noted in a study, a higher incidence of schizophrenia among indigenes in Ibadan than expected.

According to the duo, “rates of psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia in Ibadan were higher than expected based on previous international research (29.1 per 100,000 person-years, which was higher than in India and Trinidad, the other two sites in the study).

The Researchers at the University of Ibadan in collaboration with those at King’s College London, in the UK, are trying to change this situation by generating robust evidence on psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia in Nigeria, says Professor Gureje.

The preliminary result is coming as the world marks the World Schizophrenia day, May 24.

They noted that almost 90% of the cases of psychosis, a severe mental disorder in which thought and emotions are so impaired that contact is lost with external reality, identified by the study team in Ibadan received a diagnosis of schizophrenia.

The researchers also found that the majority of people with psychotic disorders were accessing care through traditional healers, and a third had never been in contact with a health professional.

Psychotic disorders are conditions in which people experience symptoms such as hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that are not there) and false thoughts or beliefs (delusions).

These disorders usually begin at a young age, when people are in their twenties, and can cause long term distress and disability.

This constitutes the most up-to-date information on how common psychosis is locally, and such evidence is essential for evidence-based policy and service-planning to address these conditions.

The researchers in the study say the aim is to uncover the risk factors that lead to psychosis in Oyo State and explore the health needs of people suffering this disorder in order to develop better services and public health strategies.

According to Gureje, “This is an important attempt for us to know about this very serious and debilitating mental illness that predominantly starts in young age, thereby disrupting the completion of education, starting a career or establishing a lifelong partnership.

“Often, especially at the onset, when the disturbing symptoms start, such as hearing of voices, the sufferer may consider ending their torment by taking their own life”, he added.

The study, called INTREPID II (INTernational REsearch Programme on Psychoses In Diverse settings), will also be conducted in sites in India and Trinidad, making it not only one of the largest studies of its kind, but also ground-breaking in its intention to understand psychosis on a global scale, notes Gureje.

INTREPID II will follow up these findings in more detail. The research team are now investigating risk factors for psychosis, such as childhood trauma or cannabis use, as well as aiming to understand how the condition affects people’s lives, which factors support recovery, and assessing the physical health needs of people with psychosis.

The outcome of the one year study is expected to be released mid-2020 and will give a deeper understanding of the relationship between schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), more than 21 million people across the globe are affected by schizophrenia.

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