Study in China Reinforces Links Between Modern Lifestyles and Increases in Schizophrenia Diagnoses


Alongside increasing urbanization, China’s rates of schizophrenia have gone up dramatically since 1990, according to a World Psychiatry letter from an international team of researchers.

The researchers examined data from 42 studies from 1990 to 2010 involving 2,284,957 Chinese people, of which 10,506 had been diagnosed with schizophrenia. In rural areas, the prevalence of schizophrenia diagnoses in the population remained stable throughout those years at around 0.36%. However, in urban areas, the prevalence of schizophrenia in the population rose from 0.32% in 1990 to 0.47% in 2000, and 0.68% in 2010.

“By 2010, the number of persons affected with schizophrenia rose to 7.16 million, a 132% increase,” the researchers wrote. “Moreover, the contribution of expected cases from urban areas to the overall burden increased from 27% in 1990 to 62% in 2010, well above the proportion of urban residents in China in 2010 (49.2-49.7%).”

The researchers suggested that the study helps establish “urbanicity,” “industrialization” and “modern urban lifestyles” as risk factors for schizophrenia, though they did not speculate as to which aspects of modern life may be leading to these large increases in the frequency with which people are being diagnosed with schizophrenia.

Chan, Kit Yee, Fei-fei Zhao, Shijiao Meng, Alessandro R. Demaio, Craig Reed, Evropi Theodoratou, Harry Campbell, Wei Wang, and Igor Rudan. “Urbanization and the Prevalence of Schizophrenia in China between 1990 and 2010.” World Psychiatry 14, no. 2 (June 1, 2015): 251–52. doi:10.1002/wps.20222. (Full text)


  1. “…the study helps establish ‘urbanicity,’ ‘industrialization’ and ‘modern urban lifestyles’ as risk factors for schizophrenia, though they did not speculate as to which aspects of modern life…” It’s likely the psychiatrists that are causing the increase in “schizophrenia” diagnoses. And according to John Read’s research the most common societal problem leading the psychiatrists to diagnose someone as “psychotic,” thus resulting in a schizophrenia diagnosis, is adverse childhood experiences or child abuse. And the psychiatrist’s “gold standard” treatment for “psychosis” does, in fact, cause both the positive and negative symptoms of “schizophrenia.”

    Neuroleptic induced positive symptoms:

    “neuroleptics … may result in … the anticholinergic intoxication syndrome … Central symptoms may include memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, hallucinations, psychosis, delirium, hyperactivity, twitching or jerking movements, stereotypy, and seizures.”

    Neuroleptic induced negative symptoms:

    “Neuroleptic induced deficit syndrome is principally characterized by the same symptoms that constitute the negative symptoms of schizophrenia—emotional blunting, apathy, hypobulia, difficulty in thinking, difficulty or total inability in concentrating, attention deficits, and desocialization. This can easily lead to misdiagnosis and mistreatment. Instead of decreasing the antipsychotic, the doctor may increase their dose to try to ‘improve’ what he perceives to be negative symptoms of schizophrenia, rather than antipsychotic side effects.”

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    • I’m not so sure it explains it though. I think living in modern cities causes people to be more disconnected from one another while in rural areas there’s more sense of community. I think this may lead to all the “mental illness”. Add to that disconnect from nature, overall stress, pollution, noise and what not and you have a poisonous mix.

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