Schizophrenia is associated with a number of anatomical and physiological abnormalities outside of the brain, as well as with a decrease in average life span estimated at 20% in the United States. Some studies suggest that this increased mortality is not entirely due to associated causes such as suicide and the use of psychotropic medications. In this article, in order to focus greater attention on the increased mortality associated with schizophrenia, we present a special case of the hypothesis that physiological abnormalities associated with schizophrenia make a contribution to the increased mortality of schizophrenia: specifically, the hypothesis that schizophrenia is a syndrome of accelerated aging. Evidence consistent with this hypothesis comes from several areas. The biological plausibility of the hypothesis is supported by the existence of established syndromes of accelerated aging and by the sharing of risk factors between schizophrenia and other age-related conditions. We propose methods for testing the hypothesis.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Psychiatry and Mental health