Let’s Classify Schizophrenia As The Brain Disease It Is

I support the new push to reclassify schizophrenia as a brain disease instead of a mental illness. Alzheimer’s is classified as a brain disease and garners significantly more research dollars as a result. Also more understanding that it’s no one’s fault.

When son Jim was first diagnosed 20 years ago, I talked hopefully to a mother whose son had the same illness. There are new drugs available and finding a cure is sure to follow, I said with enthusiasm.

“Don’t hold your breath,” the woman replied, with a sad laugh. She was my mother’s age. “They were saying those same things when Bill was first ill 25 years ago. That a cure was just around the corner.”  She and her son died several years ago, without ever knowing the cause of his illness, not to mention a cure.

Jonathan Snook, executive director of the Treatment Advocacy Center, says if this were a disease that we just discovered today there would be no question it would be classified as a neurological condition. A search would be on for the cause, treatments that do more than today’s medicines that barely manage symptoms and, yes, even a cure. The National Alliance on Mental Illness, the Schizophrenia and Related Disorders Alliance of America, health officials, scientists and doctors support this change.

Yes, we should eventually include other serious conditions like bipolar disorder, but this would be a toe in the door with the disease that is a top cause of disability.

It’s time.

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