Schizophrenia – A Biopsychosocial Model
Schizophrenia is a psychiatric disorder characterized by a wide variety of symptoms. The term schizophrenia has been subjected to many misinterpretations since first introduced. The disorder is so common and the symptoms so peculiar the term schizophrenia has become part of society’s standard vocabulary. Schizophrenia is chronic, progressive, and considered one of the most severe and frequent forms of mental disorders afflicting one percent of the population (National Institute, n.d.). Schizophrenia develops as a result of biological predisposition and environmental factors characterized by profound disruptions in the most fundamental elements of the mind including thoughts, perception, emotion, language, and a sense of self. Lines of research are converging with connections between biological predisposition and environmental factors enabling a better understanding, diagnosis, and treatment plan for schizophrenia. The disruption of brain development resulting from a genetic predisposition and environmental stressors during prenatal development such as exposure to viruses, malnutrition before birth, problems during birth, and other psychosocial factors are contributors to schizophrenia (National Institute, n.d.). During early childhood and adolescence, environmental factors can further damage the brain and increase the risk of schizophrenia, or lessen the manifestation of genetic or neurodevelopmental defects reducing the risk of schizophrenia. Schizophrenia has a strong genetic component corroborating studies of relatives with a history of this or other psychiatric diseases such as bipolar disorder, depression, schizoaffective disorder, etc. have a significantly high risk for developing schizophrenia. However, simple genetic transmission cannot be held liable as the only cause (National Institute, n.d.). Twin studies have shown between 30-50% of monozygotic twins develop schizophrenia Dizygotic twins tendency to develop schizophrenia is approximately 15%. Siblings of different ages are also approximately the same percentage as dizygotic twins. Since the tendency for monozygotic twins is not 100%, genetics cannot be the only factor. Monozygotic twins tendency to have schizophrenia is greater than dizygotic twins; therefore, genetics does play a significant role. Studies have researched family backgrounds of people adopted at an early age developing schizophrenia at a later age. One study found 13% of biological relatives of the adoptees had schizophrenia, but only 2% of the relatives of normal adoptees had schizophrenia (Schizophrenia Research Institute, 2010). In addition, while there are a number of genes that contribute to susceptibility or pathology of schizophrenia, none exhibit full responsibility for the disease. Imbalances in brain chemistry and structure involving the neurotransmitters dopamine and glutamate, in addition to others, have a pivotal role in the tuning of activity of the prefrontal cortex in schizophrenia. Feelings, thoughts, and actions are transmitted in the Central Nervous System (CNS) as electrochemical impulses. These impulses reach the ends of presynaptic neurons releasing neurotransmitter chemicals crossing the synaptic cleft binding to particular receptors onto postsynaptic neurons. Electrical changes are triggered by this binding action. Cholinergics, monoamines, and neuropeptides are the major neurotransmitter categories and are associated with the conduction of impulses in areas of the CNS (National Institute, n.d.). Serotonin, a monoamine transmitter, distributes receptors in the pons, medulla, thalamus, and limbic system. A decrease in levels of serotonin is related to clinical depression. GABA, another type of amino acid inhibitory transmitter, also distributes receptors in the hypothalamus, cortex, cerebellum, basil ganglia, and hippocampus. Decreases in GABA are related to disorders of anxiety and schizophrenia (National Institute, n.d.). The...
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