Physical consequences of schizophrenia and its treatment: the metabolic syndrome

Life Sci. 2002 Jun 7;71(3):239-57. doi: 10.1016/s0024-3205(02)01646-6.


Schizophrenia is a life shortening illness. Unnatural causes and natural causes are put forward as reasons for this excess mortality. In terms of the latter, a host of different physical disorders occur with increased frequency in schizophrenia. When taken together, some of these illnesses such as type 2 diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular disorders constitute the Metabolic Syndrome; a characteristic phenotype of those with this syndrome is excessive visceral fat distribution. The exact reasons why this particular syndrome occurs in schizophrenia is as yet unclear though factors such as life style, poor diet and lack of exercise may contribute to it's development. Alternatively, overactivity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis leading to hypercortisolaemia can also result in excessive visceral fat accumulation. This minireview aims to explore the potential role of these issues and medication in terms of the increased morbidity and mortality observed in schizophrenia.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antipsychotic Agents / adverse effects*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / metabolism
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / mortality
  • Humans
  • Hypothalamo-Hypophyseal System / metabolism
  • Life Style
  • Metabolic Syndrome*
  • Mortality
  • Pituitary-Adrenal System / metabolism
  • Schizophrenia / complications*
  • Schizophrenia / drug therapy
  • Schizophrenia / metabolism
  • Schizophrenia / mortality
  • Viscera / metabolism
  • Viscera / pathology


  • Antipsychotic Agents