Schizophrenia is a detrimental brain disorder whose causes remain unknown. There are a number of theories surrounding the possible causes of the illness, but no single factor has been singled out as a culprit. Research indicates that there is a correlation between genetic attributes and environmental factors, and numerous studies on dopamine receptors in the brain indicate a potential link to schizophrenia.
Genetic Basis of Schizophrenia
Identical twin studies have proven a link between schizophrenia and genetics, but how they are linked continues to be a mystery. According to research, an identical twin that has a sibling with schizophrenia is 40%-50% more likely to develop the disease, and while schizophrenia affects approximately 1% of the population, this figure increases to 10% if there is a family history of illness. Because schizophrenia can develop in people who come from families without a history of the illness, a genetic basis alone cannot be the cause.
Environmental Factors in Schizophrenia
Genetics, combined with environmental influences, are thought to be linked to the development of schizophrenia. Maternal influenza, malnutrition, and other problems in-utero suggest a higher likelihood that those children might develop schizophrenia in adulthood, but other life stressors are also potential risks.
Losing a loved one, ending a relationship or experiencing other life-altering events are all thought to contribute to the development of the disease. However, many people who don’t appear to have been exposed to common stressors can develop schizophrenia, indicating that environment alone is not sufficient to be the sole cause.
The Brain and Dopamine Imbalance
Antipsychotic medications used in the treatment of schizophrenia block the absorption of dopamine and appear to reduce symptoms, but not right away. A person taking the medication experiences fewer symptoms after several weeks of treatment. New research has concentrated on the effects of serotonin in schizophrenia, and medication that blocks serotonin appears to more effective in treating negative symptoms.
Brain research has shown that ventricles in the brain of some patients with schizophrenia are larger and that certain areas of the brain look different than the brains of healthy people. The entire arena of schizophrenia as a brain disorder requires significantly more in-depth study before concluding anything with certainty.
Science currently theorizes that schizophrenia is caused by a specific combination of genes, environment and brain formation, but researchers are no closer than establishing a clear pathway of the origin of the disease than they were years ago.
Source(s): Healthtree, Schizophrenia