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Shizofrenia- Random Research

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Schizophrenia involves a specific type of disordered thinking and behavior. It could be described as the splitting of the mind's cognitive functions pertaining to thought, perception, and reasoning from the appropriate emotional responses. Family history of schizophrenia increases an individual's chance of having the disorder, but the exact mode of inheritance is unknown. Only some schizophrenic patients have detectable anatomical brain abnormalities. The cause of schizophrenia has not been determined, yet drugs effective in its treatment have been identified. Schizophrenia is treated with antipsychotic drugs that primarily act on receptors in the brain for the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin. These neurotransmitters are chemicals that the brain uses to communicate normal functioning behavior. Receptors for neurotransmitters are sites on the surface of neurons that bind to the neurotransmitters and allow the communication. In schizophrenia, some of the communication mediated by the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin and their receptors is abnormal. By inhibiting the activity of these receptors, antipsychotics are effective at decreasing some of the bizarre behavior patterns associated with schizophrenia. Unfortunately, the medication necessary for schizophrenic patients also has severe and pronounced adverse side effects, mostly affecting the control of movement. Schizotypal personality disorder is a milder form of the disease.


Schizophrenia is estimated to afflict 1% of the world's population, whereas schizotypal personality disorder afflicts 2-3%. Approximately 2.7 million people have schizophrenia in the United States. The incidence of schizophrenia among parents, children, and siblings of patients with the disease is 15%. The rate of adopted children with schizophrenic parents is also 15%. However, the disease is not caused entirely by genetic factors, as identical twins have only a 30-50% tendency to have the same schizophrenic illness. Schizophrenia occurs equally in males and females. The disease may be seen at any age, but the average age for the initiation of treatment is from 28-34 years. Schizophrenia is associated with low economic status, probably due to a lack of proper health care during fetal development.

Causes and symptoms

The cause of schizophrenia is unknown. Some patients display specific physical abnormalities in the brain that are associated with the disease. These include atrophy or degeneration in some brain areas and enlargement of fluid-filled cavities called ventricles. Schizophrenics also have abnormalities in chemical neurotransmitters the brain normally uses to communicate information, specifically the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin and their receptors. The imbalance in the activity of these communication components is complex, with overactivity in some parts of the brain and decreased activity in others responsible for different symptoms. The symptoms of schizophrenia are divided into three types: the positive, negative, and disorganized symptoms.

Positive symptoms

Positive symptoms reflect the presence of distinctive behaviors. There are many different positive symptoms of schizophrenia. Schizophrenic patients may experience

strange or paranoid delusions that are out of touch with reality such as the belief that others are persecuting them, or that others are controlling their minds. Schizophrenic patients may have disturbing or frightening hallucinations. The most common hallucinations are auditory, but may also be visual. Other positive symptoms include sensitivity and fearful reaction to ordinary sights, sounds, or smells, along with agitation, tension, and the inability to sleep (insomnia).

There's considerable disagreement about the diagnosis of schizophrenia. This booklet introduces the various different theories and ideas about causes and treatment. It also offers practical advice to anyone told they have this problem, and to their family and friends.

What is schizophrenia?

The term schizophrenia is widely used in the mental health system. Doctors may describe it as a psychosis. They mean that, in their view, a person can't distinguish their own intense thoughts, ideas, perceptions and imaginings from reality (the shared perceptions, sets of ideas and values that other people in that culture hold to be real). Among other symptoms, a person might be hearing voices, or may believe that other people can read their mind and control their thoughts.

Many people prefer to look at schizophrenia 'holistically', and argue that these symptoms are logical or natural reactions to adverse life events. In other words, an extreme form of distress. They emphasise the need to think about individual experience, and the importance of understanding what the experiences mean to the individual. Hearing voices, for instance, holds a different significance within different cultures and spiritual belief systems.

How do doctors diagnose schizophrenia?

When someone becomes unwell, they are likely to show drastic changes in their behaviour. They may be upset, anxious, confused and suspicious of other people, particularly anyone who doesn't agree with their perceptions. They may be reluctant to believe they need help. Doctors will want to rule out other physical or mental health problems. They will look for various 'positive' symptoms (strange thinking, hallucinations and delusions) and 'negative' symptoms (apathy, emotional flatness, inability to concentrate, wanting to avoid people or to be protected).

Strange thinking

A person may be unable to follow a logical sequence of thought; their ideas may seem jumbled and make little sense to others. Conversation may be very difficult and this may contribute to a sense of loneliness and isolation.


Some people hear voices that others around them don't hear. (Some people hear other sounds.) The voices may be familiar, friendly or critical. They might discuss the hearer's thoughts or behaviour, or they might issue orders. Up to four per cent of the population hears voices, according to some research, and for most, they present no problem. But people who are diagnosed with schizophrenia seem to hear mostly critical or unfriendly voices. They may have heard voices all their lives, but a stressful life event might have made the voices harsher and more difficult to deal with.


Delusions are beliefs or experiences that others don't share. For



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