Research has shown that schizophrenia affects men and women about equally but may have an earlier onset in males. People with schizophrenia are more likely to die younger than the general population, in part because of high rates of co-occurring medical conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes. When the disease is active, it can be characterized by episodes in which the patient is unable to distinguish between real and unreal experiences. Not taking medications as prescribed, use of alcohol or illicit drugs, and stressful situations tend to increase symptoms.
Symptoms fall into several categories:. Symptoms usually first appear in early adulthood. Men often experience symptoms in their late teens or early 20s and women often first show signs in their 20s and early 30s. More subtle signs may be present earlier, including troubled relationships, poor school performance and reduced motivation. Before a diagnosis can be made, however, a psychiatrist should conduct a thorough medical examination to rule out substance misuse or other neurological or medical illnesses whose symptoms mimic schizophrenia.
Since multiple factors may contribute, scientists cannot yet be specific about the exact cause in individual cases. Since the term schizophrenia embraces several different disorders, variation in cause between cases is expected. Though there is no cure for schizophrenia, many patients do well with minimal symptoms.
Medication can reduce symptoms and greatly reduce future worsening of symptoms. Psychological treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy or supportive psychotherapy may reduce symptoms and enhance function, and other treatments are aimed at reducing stress, supporting employment or improving social skills.
A variety of antipsychotic medications are effective in reducing the psychotic symptoms present in the acute phase of the illness, and they also help reduce the potential for future acute episodes. Diagnosis and treatment can be complicated by substance misuse.
Most evidence comes from research using family studies which indicate that the closer the genetic relationship to someone with schizophrenia the greater the chance of developing the disorder Gottesman Overall, Tsuang et al estimate that if stringent criteria are used, a first degree relative of schizophrenia has times higher risk of it developing than those with no relatives.
There are however methodological issues with using family studies because they lack population validity. Further evidence to support the genetic explanation comes from twin studies.
In general, it is reasonable to assume that if identical twins MZ have a higher concordance rate than fraternal DZ twins, then this indicates a degree of inheritability. Although other studies have shown other rates, all twin studies have shown a significantly higher rate among MZ than DZ twins, therefore suggesting that research into this area is reliable, making the genetic explanation academically credible to explain schizophrenia.
However, there are issues with using twin studies. Joseph would argue that the differences in concordance rates between MZ and DZ twins reflect nothing more than the environmental differences that establish the two types of twins.
Chlorpromazine and Haloperidol. Noll also argues around one third of patients do not respond to drugs which block dopamine so other neurotransmitters may be involved. The original dopamine hypothesis stated that schizophrenia suffered from an excessive amount of dopamine. Problems of validity: Are we really testing what we think we are testing? A final strength is that it takes on board the nurture approach to the development of schizophrenia. In extreme cases this can include catatonia.
Taking this argument, twin studies like family studies also fail to distinguish between nature and nurture. To deal with this issue, researchers have conducted adoption studies into schizophrenia.
Tienari et al used Finnish adoptees whose biological mothers had been diagnosed with schizophrenia. Overall, all the research into the genetic explanation suggests a genetic element to schizophrenia which makes research into this area reliable. Find out why Add to Clipboard. Add to Collections.
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