Schizophrenia, referred to as a split personality disorder, is a chronic, severe, devastating mental illness that affects approximately 1% of the population, equivalent to more than 2 million people in the United States. Statistics indicates schizophrenia affects men about 1½ times more frequently than women. (National Comorbidity Survey, 1994) It is a psychotic mental disorders characterized by symptoms of thought, behavior, and social problems. The thought problems linked with schizophrenia described as psychosis, in that the individual thinking is totally out of touch with reality. The individual with this disorder may also have disorganized speech, and behavior, physically or careless ...view middle of the document...
To a certain extent, it is the result of a complex group of genetic, psychological, and environmental factors. Genetically, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder have much in common, in that the two disorders share a number of the same risk genes. However, the fact is that both illnesses also have some genetic factors that are unique.
Environmentally, the risks of developing schizophrenia can even occur before birth. Complex life circumstances during childhood, like the early loss of a parent, parental poverty, bullying, witnessing parental violence; emotional, sexual, or physical abuse; physical or emotional neglect; and insecure attachment have been associated with the development of this illness. Even factors like how well represented an ethnic group is in a neighborhood can be a risk or defensive factor for developing schizophrenia.
Neurological studies of the brain, antipsychotic drugs have become the most commonly used treatments. These studies indicate that there are prevalent abnormalities in the structural connectivity of the brains of affected individual’s. Research states that in brains affected with schizophrenia, far more neurotransmitters released between neurons, which is what causes the symptoms. Initially, researchers assumed excesses of dopamine in the brain solely caused the problem. However, recent studies indicate that the neurotransmitter serotonin also plays a role in causing the symptoms.
Magnetic Resonance Imagery (MRI) and Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (MRS) enabled researchers to study the structure of schizophrenic brains. The different lobes of affected brains examined and compared to those of normal brains, viewing several structural differences. The most familiar finding was the enlargement of the lateral ventricles, which are the fluid-filled sacs that surround the brain. The other differences, however, are not nearly as common, though they are important. Some evidence proves the volume of the brain, reduced and that the cerebral cortex is smaller.
Some commonly prescribed medication, for schizophrenia that affects serotonin levels, are Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, Celexa, and Lexapro.
While there are, a number of supportive treatments available, medications remain the cornerstone of treatment for an individual with schizophrenia. These medications, referred to as antipsychotics since they help reduce the amount of psychotic symptoms. (Lieberman, 2007)
Antipsychotic or neuroleptic medications change the balance of chemicals in the brain and can help manage the symptoms of the illness. (Lieberman, 2007) These medications are effective, but they can have side effects. However, many of these side effects should not prevent individuals from seeking treatment for this severe condition. Common side effects from antipsychotics may include sleepiness, weight gain, feelings of restlessness, problems of movement, and muscle contractions.
As true with virtually any mental-health diagnosis, no one test that...