Schizophrenia is a form of mental illness that is widely misunderstood, often due to the way in which sufferers are portrayed in films. As with many forms of mental health conditions caused by drug addiction, the exact cause of schizophrenia is still unknown although there are several different factors believed to have a link with the illness including:
- Brain connections
Genetics and Schizophrenia
Research studies in this area have identified a strong link between children born to schizophrenic parents where the child may have as high as a 46% chance of also developing the condition. Through undertaking adoption studies it has also been proven that when the adopted child develops schizophrenia then it is the biological parents as opposed to the adoptive family members who are more likely to have the disorder.
Studies on identical twins have suggested that if one twin develops schizophrenia then the other twin has around a 50% chance of also suffering from the disorder. Research into genetic links to schizophrenia have clearly indicated that the closer the individual’s genetic link to a sufferer then the greatest the individual is at risk of developing the disorder.
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Brain Connections and Schizophrenia
In recent years, both neurobiologists and neuroscientists have been making leaps of progress in terms of understanding more about the brain’s structure and how it functions. As a result of research studies in the field there is now a recognised link between the development of schizophrenia and a reduction of cortical thickness in the brain.
This reduced cortical thickness seen in schizophrenia sufferers is also believed to be linked to common cognitive problems in those affected which relate to impaired memory as well as attention or concentration difficulty.
Environment and Schizophrenia
While there is much evidence pointing towards genetic causes underlying schizophrenia development this is not the whole picture as environment has also been recognised to have a role in the disorder. Researchers in the field have indicated that a combination of factors is likely to impact an individual who goes on to develop the condition such as drugs and the environment.
Key aspects relating to the environmental influence on the development of schizophrenia may include the following: viruses in pregnancy, increased maternal stress, age of parents, toxins in the environment and poor nutrition.
Exposure to certain stressors such as those listed above are believed to have a direct impact on the activity regulation of genes.
As highlighted above, much research in this field has indicated that genetics have a large role to play in the development of schizophrenia. However, it is likely that the disorder, as with many other forms of mental illness, involves a combination of factors.
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