Schizophrenia is a thought disorder that about 1% of the American population has. With schizophrenia, reality is interpreted differently than the way other people see it. It may be hard for a person with schizophrenia to think clearly, they may hear voices that other people don't hear, see things other people don't see, or think that people or agencies are after them.

Schizophrenia has become popular in recent years as the cause of evil and otherwise unexplainable things such as Sandy Hook, Jared Loughner, and possibly James Homes. Despite this seeming relationship between schizophrenia and violence, people with schizophrenia are much more likely to hurt themselves than someone else.

Schizophrenia cannot be cured, however with medications and therapy people with schizophrenia can lead fulfilling lives. People like Elyn Saks, who went from being diagnosed with schizophrenia, to being an Associate Dean and Professor of Law, Psychology, and Psychiatry at USC Gould Law School. People like Tom Harrell, a well known jazz trumpeter.


There have been some interesting developments in the world of schizophrenia recently. One of them is that researchers recently found that over 30% of relapsed patients (people with an acute schizophrenic episode) had a UTI (urinary tract infection). The rate of UTI for the general public is about 3-5%. What does this mean? It means more studies to come! However there are a couple of ideas brewing in the heads of those who work in the field. For instance we know that UTI's can worsen symptoms of dementia, another brain disorder. We know that when UTI's are treated the dementia symptoms often get a little bit better. Is it possible that UTI's are one of the triggering events of an acute psychotic episode? Possibly. Of course it's also possible that people who are in an acute psychotic episode are lacking in hygeine and therefore get a UTI, but the link between infection and the development of schizophrenia was already pretty well linked. It's also pretty accepted that stress can trigger schizophrenic episodes. Any infection increases the stress in a person's body, so for me that increases the infection link.

Okay, so we think we know some things. Your question now is, "what do I, the average citizen who has about a 1% chance of getting this illness, do?" Well, for starters, don't get a UTI, they suck even if they don't cause an acute psychotic episode. Second, don't stress, just do some yoga or smoke some pot (but not if you're a teenager).

For now one recommendation is to test all patients with an acute schizophrenic break for a UTI, and then treat it. It's amazing to me how many times I'll see a person in the ER with schizophrenia and a UTI and the ER doctors don't want to treat the UTI.

Now on to things more interesting than my writing.

Here's Elyn Saks talking:

And here's Tom Harrell playing the trumpet: