Psychosocial Factors During Pregnancy And Delivery
Some studies suggest an association between antenatal stress and schizophrenia. The children of mothers whose husband died while they were pregnant have been found to have a significantly increased rate of schizophrenia compared with children who lost their father in infancy in the first year of life. In The Netherlands, rates of schizophrenia have been found to be very slightly higher in individuals exposed in utero to war and flood disaster than in reference subjects.
In the Northern Finland 1966 Birth Cohort the risk of later schizophrenia among unwanted children was elevated 2.4-fold compared with wanted or mistimed children, even after adjustment for confounding by sociodemographic, pregnancy and perinatal variables. Unwantedness might be a marker for features associated with risk in either the mother or the child. In the same cohort, the level of schizophrenia in the offspring of antenatally depressed mothers was elevated by a factor of 1.5-foldly, but the association was not statistically significant. Those mothers of schizophrenia patients with a psychotic first-degree relative had suffered from depressed mood during pregnancy twice as often as other mothers. The familial risk for psychosis, including genetic risk for psychosis, might explain the elevated prevalence of depressed mood during pregnancy among the mothers of the offspring who went on to develop schizophrenia.
The Default Mode Network
When weâre just hanging out — the dishes are done, weâve finished our homework, or we’ve completed a tough project at work — our thoughts are free to roam. This âdefault modeâ allows us time to daydream, reflect, and plan. It helps us process our thoughts and memories. Scientists call this the default mode network. When weâre not focused on a given task, it âlights up.” If you have schizophrenia, your default mode network seems to be in overdrive. You may not be able to pay attention or remember information in this mode, one study shows.
Early Warning Signs Of Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia can be hard to diagnose for a few reasons. One is that people with the disorder often don’t realize they’re ill, so they’re unlikely to go to a doctor for help.Another issue is that many of the changes leading up to schizophrenia, called the prodrome, can mirror other normal life changes. For example, a teen who’s developing the illness might drop their group of friends and take up with new ones. They may also have trouble sleeping or suddenly start coming home with poor grades.
Some research suggests that if a doctor strongly thinks someone is getting the disorder while still in this early phase, low doses of antipsychotic medication might delay it. More studies need to be done to know whether these drugs work for young people at risk for the disease. Cognitive behavioral therapy, family therapy, and social skills training appear to have clearer benefits for them, at least in the short term, when used early on. Learn more about the prodrome phase of schizophrenia.
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The Internal & External View Of The World
People with schizophrenia have been shown to have problems with their vision, including retina issues, unusual eye movements, and abnormal blinking rates. These visual abnormalities have even been noted to occur before psychotic symptoms manifest, which can sometimes be predictive of a schizophrenia diagnosis.
Scientists believe that when someones vision is abnormal, the brain receives all kinds of confusing signals about the world, so they have to make more predictions in order to make sense of it all. Since vision is affected, they cant pick up on inconsistencies between what they know to be true from past experiences and whats happening in real-time sensory informationso they end up making false predictions.
This is what scientists think causes hallucinations and delusions. Even healthy people, however, can experience hallucinations when their vision is temporarily blocked for just a few days, researchers say.
On the other hand, scientists hypothesize that when someone is blind from birth, the brain is conditioned to make sense of all of that sensory information coming in by relying on other cues to build a mental picture. So, in theory, they wouldnt make false predictions about the world around them and would be less susceptible to psychotic symptoms. In effect, they are protected from the false visual cues associated with schizophrenia.
Risk Of Schizophrenia If Your Parent Is Schizophrenic
The uncertainty surrounding the genetic makeup of schizophrenia is evident in the data surrounding the risks of developing schizophrenia based on a family member with the disorder. While parents and children share half of their genes, there is only a 6% chance that a child with a schizophrenic parent will develop schizophrenia. Another example is the risk of both identical twins developing schizophrenia. Identical twins basically have the same genetic makeup, yet if one of them has schizophrenia, the twin only has a 48% risk of developing the disorder.
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Environment Plays A Big Part In Developing Schizophrenia
All of these examples work as evidence to show the importance of environmental factors in the development of schizophrenia. While genetics clearly play a part in developing schizophrenia, environmental factors also play a large role, Some environmental factors that may increase the risk of schizophrenia include drug use, high stress, birth complications, and exposure to lead while pregnant.
What Causes Schizophrenia And Its Spectrum Of Conditions
Schizophrenia and the related spectrum of conditions dont have a single confirmed cause. Several factors and circumstances increase a persons risk of developing it, but none of them is a guarantee that youll eventually have it.
Experts suspect schizophrenia happens for different reasons. The three main reasons include:
- Imbalances in chemical signals your brain uses for cell-to-cell communication.
- Brain development problems before birth.
- Loss of connections between different areas of your brain.
While there arent any confirmed causes of schizophrenia, there are several factors and circumstances that researchers have connected to the condition.
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How Common Is This Condition
Here are some statistics about how common schizophrenia is worldwide:
- New cases: There are about 2.77 million new schizophrenia diagnoses every year worldwide.
- Average number of worldwide cases: There are about 22.1 million cases globally at any time .
- Odds of developing it at some point in your lifetime: About 0.85% of the global population will experience schizophrenia at some point in their life.
What Is The Difference Between Schizophrenia And Psychosis
Schizophrenia and psychosis are two strongly connected terms, but they also have significant differences.
- Psychosis: This is a grouping of symptoms that involve a disconnection from reality and the world around you . Psychosis can happen with other medical conditions and mental health disorders, such as bipolar disorder.
- Schizophrenia: This is a spectrum of conditions that involve psychotic symptoms.
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Chemical Changes In The Brain
A series of complex interrelated chemicals in the brain, called neurotransmitters, are responsible for sending signals between brain cells.
Low levels or imbalances of these chemicals are believed to play a role in the development of schizophrenia and other mental health conditions.
Dopamine, in particular, seems to play a role in the development of schizophrenia.
Researchers have found evidence that dopamine causes an overstimulation of the brain in people with schizophrenia. It may account for some of the symptoms of the condition.
Glutamate is another chemical thats been linked to schizophrenia. Evidence has pointed toward its involvement. However, there are a number of limitations to this research.
Complications before and during birth may increase the likelihood a person will develop mental health disorders, including schizophrenia.
These complications include:
Because of the ethics involved in studying pregnant women, many of the studies that have looked at the connection between prenatal complications and schizophrenia have been on animals.
Women with schizophrenia are at an increased risk for complications during pregnancy.
Its unclear if their children are at an increased likelihood for developing the condition because of genetics, pregnancy complications, or a combination of the two.
What Can I Do If A Loved One Shows Signs Of Schizophrenia Or A Similar Condition
Because people with schizophrenia often cant recognize their symptoms or condition, they often dont believe they need medical care or treatment. That can be frustrating or frightening for both the person with the symptoms and those who care about them.
If you notice a loved one showing signs of schizophrenia or a related condition, you can try helping them by doing the following:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Schizophrenia can be a frightening condition for the people who have it and their loved ones. Despite stereotypes, this isnt a condition where any thought of recovery or living a happy, fulfilling life is impossible. If you think you have symptoms of schizophrenia, its important to talk to a healthcare provider as soon as you can. Their job is to help you, and healthcare providers especially those who specialize in mental health conditions like schizophrenia have the training to help you not feel judged, ashamed or embarrassed. If you notice a loved one struggling with symptoms of psychosis or schizophrenia, encourage them gently and supportively to get care. Early diagnosis and treatment can make a big difference in helping people recover and manage this condition.
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Genetic Components Of Schizophrenia
There is no one genetic cause of schizophrenia no one has the schizophrenia gene. Rather, there are what the Mayo Clinic calls a complex group of genetic and other biological vulnerabilities. A person isnt born with schizophrenia, but there are certain neurochemical conditions that make them candidates for its development.
Some of these can include unusual dopamine or glutamate levels, lower brain matter in some areas, and abnormalities in the default mode connectivity network. These sound in some ways like a judgment on a persons brain. They arent. They are simply small differences that can make a person vulnerable to schizophrenia.
These conditions are inheritable, though theres no guarantee theyll be passed down. One person might inherit one of these and develop schizophrenia another may get all four and never notice. Thats because there is no on/off switch for schizophrenia. Like any mental health issue, the reality of it is far more complex than that.
How Is Schizophrenia Treated
Managing schizophrenia is a lifelong process. It can’t be cured. But symptoms can often be managed with medicine and therapy. Often, more than 1 method is needed. Types of treatment that may be helpful include:
Antipsychotic medicines. These are the main medicines used to reduce the most troubling symptoms such as delusions and paranoia.
Other medicines. These may include antidepressants or other mood stabilizers.
Therapy. Individual and family therapy .
Training. These may include learning social skills, job skills, or structured activity.
Self-help and support groups.
Early treatment and supportive services helps affected people live productive lives. It’s very important to take medicines exactly as prescribed and to keep taking them even if you feel better. Many people may still have some symptoms, even with treatment. At times, symptoms may get worse and treatment will need to be adjusted.
Always see your healthcare provider for more information.
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Frequently Asked Questions About Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is a chronic and severe mental disorder that affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves. People with schizophrenia may seem like they have lost touch with reality. Although schizophrenia is not as common as other mental disorders, the symptoms can be very disabling.
Schizophrenia is a severe and debilitating brain and behavior disorder affecting how one thinks, feels and acts. People with schizophrenia can have trouble distinguishing reality from fantasy, expressing and managing normal emotions and making decisions. Thought processes may also be disorganized and the motivation to engage in lifes activities may be blunted. Those with the condition may hear imaginary voices and believe others are reading their minds, controlling their thoughts or plotting to harm them.
While schizophrenia is a chronic disorder, it can be treated with medication, psychological and social treatments, substantially improving the lives of people with the condition.
A moving presentation by Dr. Kafui Dzirasa on Schizophrenia
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Schizophrenia affects men and women equally. It occurs at similar rates in all ethnic groups around the world. Symptoms such as hallucinations and delusions usually start between ages 16 and 30.
Learn more about childhood-onset schizophrenia from this expert researcher:
Find answers to more questions about Schizophrenia in our Ask the Expert section.
Risk Factors For Schizophrenia During Pregnancy And Delivery
Many pre- and perinatal risk factors for schizophrenia have been identified, although these tend to have a modest effect, with typical odds ratios or relative risks of 2. These factors include antenatal exposure to influenza, especially during second trimester, and other respiratory infections, rubella during pregnancy, hypoxia-related obstetric complications, low birth weight and prenatal growth retardation . So far, the evidence is less secure for antenatal stress and malnutrition in pregnancy.
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What Causes Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia can have a range of causes. There is a lot that researchers still don’t know and it is likely to be caused by a combination of genetic, personal and environmental factors. These factors will be different for everybody but may include:
Highly stressful or life-changing events may sometimes trigger schizophrenia. These can include:
Sometimes stressful events like these are called trauma. For more information on how these experiences can affect your mental health see our pages on trauma.
The onset of schizophrenia for me was sudden and dramatic, though it followed a period of depression and acute stress. A really compelling and powerful voice started to try to control me.
What Is Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is a complex brain disorder. It often runs in families and can cause troubling symptoms. These may include hearing voices, and having trouble thinking clearly and relating to others. It often starts suddenly in early adulthood. There is no cure for this illness, but it can be managed with medicine and supportive therapy.
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Skip Spence 1946 1999
Musician and Singer Songwriter
Age of Diagnosis: 23
Individual History: Alexander Lee Skip Spence was a Canadian-born American musician and singer-songwriter. He began his career as a guitarist in an early line-up of Quicksilver Messenger Service, and was the drummer on Jefferson Airplanes debut album, Jefferson Airplane Takes Off. He was one of the co-founders of Moby Grape, and played guitar with the group until 1969. He released one solo album, Oar, and then withdrew from the music industry. His career was plagued by drug addiction and mental health problems. In the late 1960s, Spence became delusional after taking too much acid. He was found marching around his hotel room with an axe, bashing down doors and claiming he was the anti-Christ. At that point he was taken to Bellvue Hospital where he was formally diagnosed as schizophrenic. Spence died in 1999 from lung cancer, two days before his 53rd birthday.
What Conditions Fall Under The Schizophrenia Spectrum
According to the American Psychiatric Associations Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Fifth Edition , the disorders in the schizophrenia spectrum are:
- Schizoaffective disorder.
- Catatonia is a syndrome that can include a lack of movement, unusual movements, unusual repetitive behaviors, not speaking and social withdrawal. It can also complicate schizophrenia, as well as other psychiatric and medical conditions.
- Other schizophrenia spectrum disorders . This diagnosis allows healthcare providers to diagnose unusual variations of schizophrenia.
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List Of People With Schizophrenia
This is a list of people, living or dead, accompanied by verifiable source citations associating them with schizophrenia, either based on their own public statements, or reported contemporary or posthumous diagnoses of schizophrenia. Remember that schizophrenia is an illness that varies with severity.
Regarding posthumous diagnoses: only a few famous people are believed to have been affected by schizophrenia. Most of these listed have been diagnosed based on evidence in their own writings and contemporaneous accounts by those who knew them. Also, persons prior to the 20th century may have incomplete or speculative diagnoses of schizophrenia.
What It All Means
Though a hard and fast explanation for the absence of schizophrenia in congenital blindness remains to be unfurled, these hypotheses are grounds for hope in understanding and treating the condition. These findings can help in three ways:
Determining risk. Eye tests, rather than blood tests, could be used as a predictive measure to determine a high-risk factor for schizophrenia.
Informing early intervention. Researchers believe this data shows that early visual and cognitive training that focuses on improving sensory perception as well as things like memory and attention could potentially help people at high risk for the disorder.
Dealing with symptoms. Sharpening and relying on senses other than vision may help enhance functioning in people with schizophrenia.
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What Tests Will Be Done To Diagnose This Condition
There arent any diagnostic tests for schizophrenia-spectrum conditions. But healthcare providers will likely run tests to rule out other conditions before diagnosing schizophrenia. The most likely types of tests include:
- Imaging tests. Healthcare providers will often use computerized tomography , magnetic resonance imaging and other imaging tests to rule out problems like stroke, brain injuries, tumors and other changes to your brain structure.
- Blood, urine and cerebrospinal fluid tests. These tests look for chemical changes in bodily fluids that might explain changes in your behavior. They can rule out heavy metal toxicity or other causes of poisoning, infections and more.
- Brain activity testing. An electroencephalogram detects and records the electrical activity in your brain. This test can help rule out conditions like epilepsy.