Maps reveal schizophrenia ‘hotspots’ in England


Maps reveal schizophrenia ‘hotspots’ in England according to a news report on the BBC What is...

Maps reveal schizophrenia ‘hotspots’ in England according to a news report on the BBC

What is Schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a serious mental illness and is, to most, surprisingly common, affecting 1% of the population. It is characterised by delusions (strongly held beliefs that are not true) and hallucinations (a perception that does not have an external stimuli) however the severity of the illness can vary as in all other disorders. Though there is some role for talking therapies, the mainstay of treatment is with antipsychotics (aka Neuroleptics). The first antipsychotic used was Chlorpromazine (Largactil/Thorazine) which was first developed as a surgical anaesthetic in the 1950s. Since then there have been a number of different medications developed and its use has also expanded  to encompass other mental health illnesses.


Though the main licensed indications of these drugs are mainly for schizophrenia and bipolar affective disorder (Manic Depression), there are a few that have been licensed to be used in conjunction to other treatments in depression. In addition, antipsychotics are used in a variety of other conditions including, amongst others, anxiety disorders, impulse disorders and tourettes. Because of the wide variation in indications, there can be very different confidence levels, expertise and attitude in the prescribing of antipsychotics in different parts of the country especially in Primary Care (GPs). Therefore the variations in prescribing of antipsychotics (as detailed in the map) nor is the increase in prescribing surprising. It would have been interesting to see why the antipsychotics were prescribed and whether they were initiated by GPs or Psychiatrists as it could highlight difference in prescribing patterns.

Dr Azlan Luk, Consultant Psychiatrist is commenting on the article For more information on schizophrenia

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*McManus, S., Meltzer, H., Brugha, T. S., Bebbington, P. E., & Jenkins, R. (2009). Adult psychiatric morbidity in England, 2007: results of a household survey.

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