Affecting barely 1% of the population in the United States, roughly 3.5 million adults aged 18 or older, Schizophrenia or “Schizo” is one of the most disabling diseases affecting humankind (“How schizophrenia affects the brain”, 2015). Schizophrenia is a chronic and severe brain disorder that interferes with a person’s ability to think clearly, make decisions, manage emotions and relate to others. There are many other factors and symptoms that follow “schizo” that are not involved in multiple personality disorder (dissociative identity disorder), however the two are easily confused to the under educated. For decades, research on the causes of schizophrenia has been dominated by theories related to genetics and neurotransmitters.
Changes in neuroimaging studies show that schizophrenia is in fact a brain disease. Psychotic disorders as such nearly always emerge in late adolescence or early adulthood, with onset peaking between the ages of 18 and 25. The reasons for its appearance in this age range have not been identified (“Schizophrenia – Fact Sheet”).Contrary to public perception, Schizophrenia is not caused by previous childhood events, poor parenting or lack of willpower, however, the symptoms are not identical for each person. Although it’s not known what exactly causes schizophrenia, researchers believe that a combination of genetics, brain chemistry and environment contributes to development of the disorder.
Scientists recognize that the disorder appears to run in families and that a person inherits a tendency to develop the disease over time. If a parent, brother, or sister are affected, the chances go up by 10% and if both parents are affected, this chance increases to 40%. Similar to some other genetically-related illnesses, schizophrenia may appear when the body undergoes hormonal and physical changes like ones that occur during puberty or extensively stressful situations. But some people with schizophrenia have no history of it in their family. Scientists think that in these cases, a gene may have changed and made the condition more likely.
Changes in genetic code can sometimes increase one’s odds for developing diseases like schizophrenia as well and doctors believe there is more than one gene that can be a potential cause of schizophrenia. Environment is also a potential factor to schizophrenia development. If a patient were to be exposed to certain viral infections before they were born, chances of getting schizophrenia are instantly increased. This may also be true if someone didn’t get proper nutrition from their mother while she was pregnant, especially during her first six months of pregnancy. Schizophrenia involves a range of problems with cognitive behavior or emotions. Signs and symptoms may vary, and also have the possibility to come and go, all depending on the person.
(“Schizophrenia”, 2016) While signs begin occurring sooner in men than women, signs have a tendency to appear between the ages of 16 and 30. Often times, sufferers have close to no clue at all that they are psychologically ill until informed formally by a medical professional. Signs and symptoms viewed as “positive”, are simply actions not commonly witnessed by “healthy people”. Thesen signs and symptoms involve one being convinced of false beliefs that do not exist in reality, seeing and hearing things that don’t exist, disorganized thinking and speech, and abnormal motor behavior. “Negative” symptoms are associated with disruptions to normal emotions and behaviors, including reduced expression of emotions in facial expressions and/or voice tone