Schizophrenia and the Metabolic Syndrome

  • Jared Edward Reser


Individuals with schizophrenia are at a high risk of developing life-shortening illnesses and are especially prone to developing metabolic diseases. Epidemiological evidence has demonstrated that schizophrenia is closely associated with the metabolic syndrome and its associated disorders, including type 2 diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease, dyslipidemia, visceral fat distribution, and hypertension. This association has been attributed to behavioral factors seen in patients with schizophrenia like poor diet, increased food intake, increased dietary fat content, lack of exercise, and reduced physical activity but there are clearly other mediating factors. Specific features of the metabolic syndrome are known to be exacerbated by severe stress and elevated levels of cortisol, elements common in schizophrenia. The antipsychotic medications widely prescribed in schizophrenia, especially the atypical antipsychotics, have been implicated in the onset and worsening of metabolic symptoms. There is also evidence pointing towards the fact that schizophrenia and the metabolic syndrome present comorbidly because of a shared genetic basis. The public health significance of these associations is clear and provides impetus for mental health professionals to become more responsible for identifying, treating, and monitoring the physical symptoms of schizophrenia in addition to the psychiatric ones. Unfortunately, health care practitioners may not place enough emphasis on the treatment of metabolic disorders in this population because of low awareness and past ambiguity of findings.


Metabolic Syndrome Antipsychotic Drug Atypical Antipsychotic Antipsychotic Medication Excess Mortality 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Psychology DepartmentUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

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