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Women and schizophrenia: new findings

Author(s): Mary V Seeman

Schizophrenia has long been known to affect men and women somewhat differently. It has been shown that men have a higher incidence, a younger age of onset, more impaired social and vocational functioning, and poorer response to treatment. Generally acknowledged risk factors such as season of birth, obstetric complications, head trauma and substance abuse affect males more than females. This review examines other potential predictive factors, both genetic and environmental, that have come to attention over the last 5 years, and examines their relative gender risk. Recent findings pertinent to women with schizophrenia have emerged with respect to hormonal effects, antipsychotic metabolism and antipsychotic side effects. A new concept relative to outcome is recovery, which, thus far, shows no gender difference. The review also addresses the needs of specific groups of women affected by schizophrenia – those in the early stages of illness, those who are pregnant, those who are mothers and those who are in their postmenopausal years. Several new findings are advancing the field of women and schizophrenia.


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