Disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder affect at least four percent of the Australian population. They can cause severe lifelong incapacity that generally starts in the teenage years.
Currently, more than 70% of the disability associated with the psychoses is completely untreatable. Virtually all of our treatments are non-specific – only research can offer the prospect of targeted treatments that act on specific brain systems.
Australia has world-renowned research centres in the neurosciences and genetics. It also has the leading psychosis research groups and high quality neuroimaging facilities co-located with clinical services. Despite these favourable conditions for a major research effort into psychotic disorders, much greater coordination is required.
A strategic direction for a national program of clinical, neuroscience, and genetic research into the psychotic disorders is urgently needed to:
- Create critical mass of technical and clinical infrastructure
- Promote standardisation of measurement across research centres
- Support multi-centre studies of large representative clinical cohorts and their long term follow-up
- Enable integration of research databases nationally, and
- Establish multi-disciplinary meeting processes for scientific exchange.
Psychosis Australia's 3 strategic research aims
- Build pathways for discovery, from gene research, by vertical integration of scientific activity across each level of research expertise and resource
- Achieve critical mass within each level of research expertise by horizontal integration of collaborating research centres across institutions, and across states and territories
- Actively engage consumers and carers, clinicians and policy-makers, and the general public in the promotion and development of psychosis research.
Schizophrenia can last only for a few episodes but unfortunately tends to be very persistent in many people. Work and home stress, relationships, and substance misuse are common triggers of schizophrenia. There is also evidence that genetic vulnerability plays a role.
Symptoms start in a mild form of the illness in adolescence
Common signs and symptoms:
The sooner the person seeks help from a mental health professional, the sooner they can manage their symptoms.