Understanding The Schizophrenic Brain

Try searching the definition of Schizophrenia, I can guarantee that you will find one common definition throughout the internet. “Schizophrenia is defined as an umbrella of psychotic disorders that involve disturbances in thought, language, perception, communication and behavior”.

That’s because it literally is an umbrella of psychotic disorders. According to the American Psychiatric Association 1994, a schizophrenic patient has to deal with hallucinations, delusions, thought disorders, movement disorders and inappropriate emotional expressions in their everyday life.

Schizophrenia occurs in all ethnic groups and in all parts of the world, However it is 10 to 100 times more common in Western countries than in Third World countries.

Symptoms Of Schizophrenia 

Schizophrenia is categorized by two types of symptoms: positive and negative symptoms.

Positive symptoms are described as “psychotic”. Delusions and hallucinations fall into this category. Delusions are unsubstantiated beliefs, such as the outer space aliens are trying to control my behavior. Hallucinations can either be auditory or visual. In some extreme conditions, visual and auditory hallucinations may occur together. Auditory hallucinations are the most common types of  hallucinations where schizophrenic  patients often hear voices in their heads which can cause patients to react and behave aggressively or in some cases even commit suicide. Visual hallucinations are very rare, patients suffering with visual hallucinations often see fictional figures like demons or sometimes angles, in some cases, patients visualize insects crawling all over their body or even flashing lights.  Positive symptoms are treatable with the help of Anti-psychotic drugs.

On the other hand, you have negative symptoms, these symptoms are described as more psychological. Negative symptoms include flat effect, intellectual impairment and loosening of associations. Negative symptoms remain consistent over time and are difficult to treat. counselling helps reduce negative symptoms and that’s why schizophrenic patients are advised to undergo counselling sessions regularly.

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Who Gets Schizophrenia?

Many hypotheses are associated with the development of schizophrenia in an individual.

Gottesman in 1991 conducted research on twins. His study proved  that the more closely you are biologically related to someone with schizophrenia, the greater your own probability of schizophrenia.

gengraph

(based on data from Gottesman,1991)

The Neurodevelopmental Hypothesis suggests that schizophrenia is based on the abnormalities in the prenatal (before birth) and neonatal (new-born) development of the nervous system ,which lead to abnormalities in brain anatomy and behavior (Weinberger,1996).  This abnormality could be due to genetics or due to developmental problems in the prenatal stage.

The Dopamine Hypothesis suggests that the sub-cortical regions from the mid brain to the limbic system has excess dopamine which is responsible for positive symptoms but the circuit from mid brain to the prefrontal cortex  seemed to be characterized by too little dopamine which is responsible for negative symptoms (Duval et al, 2003).

You can check out the video below to get a brief idea on what it’s like to have schizophrenia. wear headphones for optimal experience.

If you or anyone you know is suffering from a mental condition, please do seek professional help

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comment your views or questions below.

 

Reference

https://www.medimaging.net/general-imaging/articles/294767381/mri-scans-can-detect-chemical-imbalance-in-brain.html (featured image)

Kalat, J. Biological psychology.  ( Click the link to buy the book)

Bertelsen, A., & Gottesman, I. (1991). GENETICS OF SCHIZOFFECTIVE PSYCHOSES. Psychiatric Genetics2(1), S3. http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/00041444-199102010-00003

http://www.schizophrenia.com/research/hereditygen.htm (relationship with person to schizophrenia image source).

 

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