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How Does The Environment Affect Schizophrenia

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Survey Structure And Instruments

Sociodemographic characteristics

Data were gathered on gender, age, ethnicity, education level, psychiatric disorder diagnoses, and help-seeking behaviour for any psychiatric disorder listed. An overview of each of the risk factors, sociodemographic characteristics and questionnaires evaluated in the OWLS survey is presented in Supplementary Tables and .

Psychotic-like experiences

Prodromal Questionnaire 16 Item Version . The PQ16 contains 16 items with yes/no responses, yielding a score out of 16. Scoring 6 or above warrants further screening for an at-risk mental state. The questionnaire assesses positive symptoms and negative symptoms . An overview of the items and their respective dimensions can be found in Supplementary Table . The PQ16 was selected as it does not have hypothetical qualifiers or describe beliefs of cultural subgroups which have been highlighted to produce misleading results in the estimated prevalence of PE,.

Axis I symptomatology

Depression Anxiety and Stress Scale ; =0.93 ; =0.80 ; =0.87 ). This scale was selected as it takes a dimensional view of depression, anxiety and stress. It can be subdivided into three categories . The 21 items are each scored on a 4-point scale from 0 to 3.

Traumatic events

Sleep quality

Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index . The PSQI measures subjective sleep quality over the previous month, yielding a score ranging from 0 to 21. Higher scores represent poorer quality sleep.


Circadian phase

Effects Of Signs And Symptoms Of Schizophrenia At Work And School

These early schizophrenia symptoms can easily result in a failure to thrive at school. The person may push away all their friends and become withdrawn, no longer willing to take part in things they once enjoyed, like sports or music. The cognitive impairment and difficulty thinking may result in a drop in grades.

Once a person gets older, the symptoms of schizophrenia tend to become more pronounced as schizophrenia becomes a full-blown illness. At this point, signs and symptoms of schizophrenia include:

  • Disorganized speech
  • Unusual behavior or postures
  • Inappropriate or lack of mood
  • Muscle immobility or stupor
  • Excessive, pointless muscle activity; repetition of movement or speech

The specific cluster of symptoms any one person has varies depending on the type of schizophrenia.

These schizophrenia symptoms often make working impossible and can lead to periods of joblessness and even homelessness. However, there may be times when the person is in remission , where life can resume as normal.

How Does The Environment Influence Schizophrenia

7How Does the Environment Influence Schizophrenia?
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Box 2influences And Causes

Philosophers have long debated the nature and definition of what makes a cause. A clear prerequisite is that a cause precedes an outcome. Causes may also be considered necessary or sufficient .

Since the early 20th century, science has embraced the principles of quantum mechanics, and thus we are comfortable, too, with the notion of a given exposure not inevitably causing, but merely increasing the likelihood of, a given outcome.

The temporal relationship between substance misuse and the prodromal features of schizophrenia was examined by Reference Häfner, Maurer, Loffler, Gattaz and HäfnerHäfner et al. Although they determined that 80% of patients were using substances before the onset of positive symptoms, this figure dropped to 27% using substances before the onset of any prodromal symptom whatsoever. They concluded that a causal relationship of some sort seemed likely, although the direction remained unclear.

Thus, the field remains uncertain. For a coherent picture to emerge we need better clarification of the timing of symptom and substance misuse onset, more care determining the type and amount of substances used, and more clarity on the symptom spectra associated with each substance. In the meantime, the clearest health need is to address the huge health and economic costs of substance misuse to this most badly off and vulnerable patient group.

Pollution Increases Schizophrenia Risk

PSYC 2090: Facts that you need to know about schizophrenia...

In the present study, the researchers analyzed data regarding 23,355 people all born in Denmark between May 1, 1981, and December 31, 2002 whose evolution they followed up from the participants 10th birthday until the first occurrence of schizophrenia, emigration, death, or December 31, 2012, whichever came first, as they state in the study paper.

The research team had access to information on the participants genetic data via The Lundbeck Foundation Initiative for Integrative Psychiatric Research, or iPSYCH as well as the evolution of their mental health, and data on air pollution during their childhoods.

Of the total number of study participants, 3,531 developed schizophrenia.

The investigators analysis indicated that individuals who had experienced exposure to high levels of air pollution growing up also had an increased risk of developing schizophrenia in adulthood.

The study shows that the higher the level of air pollution, the higher the risk of schizophrenia, says senior researcher Henriette Thisted Horsdal, Ph.D.

For each 10 micrograms per cubic meter increase in the daily average, the risk of schizophrenia increases by approximately 20%, she adds.

Children who are exposed to an average daily level above 25 micrograms per cubic meter have an approximately 60% greater risk of developing schizophrenia compared to those who are exposed to less than 10 micrograms per cubic meter.

Henriette Thisted Horsdal, Ph.D.

Social Adversity And Life Events

Many have considered the role of social isolation and social disadvantage in increasing risk of psychosis. The mechanisms explaining associations between social factors and psychosis are likely to be complex, in a similar way to those mediating the roles of ethnicity and urbanicity Factors such as access to health care, social support, self esteem, unemployment, and poor physical health will play a role. The interaction between perceptions of disadvantage and more direct effects of adversity are also difficult to disentangle. Low social class, a complex concept in itself, has been consistently found to be associated with schizophrenia, but the roles of social causation versus social drift have often been difficult to separate. Studies examining social class at birth, employed as a proxy for assessing social causation, have not been consistent in their findings., Byrne et al have recently looked at the role of personal and parental social class in relation to first admission for schizophrenia using data from the Danish national registers. Risk of schizophrenia was associated with unemployment, low educational attainment, being single, lower wealth status, low income, and being childless. Risk was also found to be associated with parental unemployment and parental lower income, but higher parental education. The authors concluded that personal rather than parental socioeconomic disadvantage had the greatest impact on onset of schizophrenia.

Box 3no Effect Or No Evidence

No significant effect does not equal evidence of no effect. To determine that there is a 95% likelihood that two groups are the same requires around five times as many cases as would be needed to demonstrate a 95% likelihood that two groups are different. For example, if we wish to determine whether a bag of chocolate-coated peanuts is not pure, but also contains raisins, we only need to find one raisin. However, if we wish to be certain that it is pure peanuts, we would need to check all of them.

Current studies have difficulty getting enough cases to demonstrate differences; we are clearly some way off demonstrating the significant absence of an effect.

Other illnesses, both pre- and perinatally, have also been implicated. A wide range of viruses that can be considered neurotrophic have been associated with central nervous system problems including learning disability, epilepsy and psychosis . An ecological study from Finland found an association with polio, and a single-cohort study with robust documentation of rubella status showed an effect size for later affective psychosis of over 5, much greater than that found for maternal influenza . Again, there is no evidence that allows us to establish whether these are specific effects of the infection, or effects of pyrexia, medications or the maternal immune response.

Strategies For Coping With Stress And Building Resilience May Provide Approaches To Prevent Schizophrenia

Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
Stressful situations affect the brain and body differently in people with schizophrenia compared to people without the mental illness or individuals at high risk for developing psychosis, a new study shows. The relationship between two chemicals released when people experienced stress — one released in the brain and the other in saliva — differs in people with schizophrenia. The discovery may provide clues into how to act early to prevent schizophrenia.

Stressful situations affect the brain and body differently in people with schizophrenia compared to people without the mental illness or individuals at high risk for developing psychosis, a new CAMH study shows. The relationship between two chemicals released when people experienced stress — one released in the brain and the other in saliva — differs in people with schizophrenia. The discovery, recently published in the journal Brain, may provide clues into how to act early to prevent schizophrenia.

“We found a disrupted stress response in people with schizophrenia, which did not occur in either healthy individuals or people at clinical high risk for developing psychosis,” says Dr. Christin Schifani, Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Research Imaging Centre in CAMH’s Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute, and lead author of the study.

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Environmental Risk Factor Selection

The selection of risk factors presented in the survey was premised upon a systematic meta review of the literature, i.e. a review of the available meta-analyses and systematic reviews that globally account for the published data on a specified risk factor for the development of psychosis. Full details of the methodology employed and the risk factors identified in this process can be found in Supplementary Materials . Parental communication was the only risk factor highlighted by this review that could not be included, as it is evaluated by means of video recordings and there was no feasible way to replicate this accurately within the survey.

Role Of The Environment In Forming Schizophrenia Psychology Essay

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Tienari, Wynne, Moring, & Lahti, investigated the role of the environment in the formation of schizophrenia on adopted children who were presumed to acquire the genetic traits. Their results suggested a significant increase in schizophrenic development if the environment was chaotic and unstable, supporting the notion that stress is an important factor in schizophrenic development. Studies to identify the importance of stress in the development of schizophrenia with the belief traumatic emotional events that occur generate a state of psychological stress, resulting in the individual regressing to an earlier stage of emotional development . Individuals adopt specific coping mechanisms for dealing with emotional stress and accumulation a possible trigger in psychosis development. An increase in negative life events occurred in the weeks prior to a schizophrenic episode .

Schizotypal individuals may not encounter more daily stress within their lives but may react to these stressors with greater ease . Many individuals are known to experience trauma during their lives, yet without developing schizophrenic symptoms. This seems to suggest that although stressful life experiences may trigger the disease, but only for those who are genetically endowed with the traits.


What Happens At The Hospital

About one-third of people with schizophrenia dont believe anything is wrong with them. Many more dont seek help on their own, for cultural reasons or because they lack resources.

So problems often come to light only when their erratic behavior or other troubles trigger a crisis. Patients are often brought to the hospital by family, teachers or the police, says Dr. Bowers.

To decide whether to admit someone, psychiatrists consider whether patients pose a risk to themselves or others; whether they can take care of themselves; and whether they could benefit from hospital treatment.

Cognitive Impairments And Brain Structural Abnormalities

Although schizophrenia usually manifests in adolescence and early adult life, numerous reports suggest that many patients with schizophrenia have a history of delayed developmental milestones in the first year of life , lower IQ in childhood , hearing impairment , emotional problems, and interpersonal difficulties early in life . Those people who develop psychosis following heavy cannabis use show less evidence of such neurodevelopmental deviance. In particular, they have higher premorbid IQ and better social functioning in childhood than psychotic patients who do not use cannabis . Perhaps being smarter and more sociable enables them to find cannabis dealers and obtain the money for the drug!

What Are The 4 Main Types Of Schizophrenia

What Causes Schizophrenia and How Common Is It?

Schizophrenia looks different from one person to the next. But there are four main categories into which patients fall:

  • Paranoid schizophrenia: The persons paranoia may be extreme, and they may act on it. They may show up at the door of the FBI and ask, Why are you following me? says Dr. Bowers. They may also behave oddly, have inappropriate emotional responses and show little pleasure in life.
  • Catatonic schizophrenia: The person shuts down emotionally, mentally and physically. People appear to be paralyzed. They have no facial expression and may stand still for long periods of time, she says. There is no drive to eat, drink or urinate. When catatonia lasts for hours, it becomes a medical emergency.
  • Undifferentiated schizophrenia: The person has various vague symptoms. They may not talk or express themselves much. They can be confused and paranoid, says Dr. Bowers. The person may not bother to change clothes or take a shower.
  • Schizoaffective disorder: The person has delusional thinking and other symptoms of schizophrenia. But they also present with one or more symptoms of a mood disorder: depression, mania and/or hypomania, says Dr. Bowers.
  • Summary And Future Directions

    Several environmental exposures have been investigated in terms of SZ and BD risk, and there is moderate evidence that ACEs and certain types of infections are risk factors for both. For winter/spring birth, OCs, migration, urbanicity, and cannabis use, however, more robust associations have only been identified for SZ. Undoubtedly, the research for BD lags behind the larger body of work for SZ, and it remains unclear whether the reported differences in environmental risk between BD and SZ are due to sample size and methodological differences, or true etiological distinctions. For both disorders, evidence implicating other exposures such as air pollution and nicotine/smoking is still growing, while still other exposures may yet be discovered. Only a small fraction of environmental variables that individuals are exposed to have been investigated, and, in time, more environmental risk factors for SZ and BD will likely come to light.

    Power has been another key limitation of most prior G×E research. Power calculations using sample sizes from previous G × E studies suggest that some of the reported results may represent false positives . As larger samples become available, well-powered interaction studies will become feasible.

    What Are The Early Symptoms Of Schizophrenia

    The condition usually shows its first signs in men in their late teens or early 20s. It mostly affects women in their early 20s and 30s. The period when symptoms first start and before full psychosis is called the prodromal period. It can last days, weeks, or even years. It can be hard to spot because thereâs usually no specific trigger. You might only notice subtle behavioral changes, especially in teens. This includes:

    • A change in grades
    • Difficulty sleeping

    Trauma And Social Adversities

    Trauma and social adversities in different forms, either during childhood or adulthood, have been extensively investigated as potential risk factors for schizophrenia. Varese and colleagues, in a meta-analysis of case-control, prospective, and cross-sectional cohort studies, reported strong evidence that childhood adversity was associated with increased risk for psychosis in adulthood . There is an association between permanent separation from, or death of, one or both parents and psychosis , victimization and bullying and psychosis . A robust link between childhood trauma and schizophrenic symptoms has been found with childhood trauma being associated with the most severe forms of positive symptomatology in adulthood, particularly hallucinations , and affective symptoms . Life events more proximal to the onset of illness, defined as situations that bring about positive or negative changes in personal circumstances and/or involve an element of threat, have been investigated . The most recent review and meta-analysis of the relationship between life events and psychosis has suggested around a threefold increased odds of life events in the period prior to psychosis onset, with the time period under consideration ranging between 3 months and 3.6 years .

    What Causes Schizophrenia

    The exact cause of schizophrenia isnât known. But like cancer and diabetes, schizophrenia is a real illness with a biological basis. Researchers have uncovered a number of things that appear to make someone more likely to get schizophrenia, including:

    • Genetics : Schizophrenia can run in families, which means a greater likelihood to have schizophrenia may be passed on from parents to their children.
    • Brain chemistry and circuits: People with schizophrenia may not be able to regulate brain chemicals called neurotransmitters that control certain pathways, or “circuits,” of nerve cells that affect thinking and behavior.
    • Brain abnormality: Research has found abnormal brain structure in people with schizophrenia. But this doesnât apply to all people with schizophrenia. It can affect people without the disease.
    • Environment: Things like viral infections, exposure to toxins like marijuana, or highly stressful situations may trigger schizophrenia in people whose genes make them more likely to get the disorder. Schizophrenia more often surfaces when the body is having hormonal and physical changes, like those that happen during the teen and young adult years.

    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.

    Physical Health And Schizophrenia

    Physical Health in People with Schizophrenia

    Without a doubt physical health is a problem for people with schizophrenia and whilst the focus of health professionals traditionally has been to minister to the mental health needs, the cost of physical illnesses to those living with schizophrenia and the wider society in premature death, serious illness and poor quality of life has long been under-rated.

    The average life expectancy of people living with schizophrenia is about 10 to 20 years less than that of the general population2 and research has shown quite conclusively that people with schizophrenia have increased rates of physical illnesses; in fact over 75% of people with a diagnosis of schizophrenia have at least one chronic physical condition running alongside their schizophrenia and the more severe the schizophrenia is the more severe their physical problems are also likely to be3.

    Thus it is clear that, even allowing for suicide , the mortality rate for people with schizophrenia is higher.

    The range of illnesses that afflict people with schizophrenia disproportionately is very wide and includes the more obvious candidates like heart disease, stroke and diabetes but also high blood pressure, some cancers, sexual dysfunction, osteoporosis and infectious diseases like HIV, TB and hepatitis3,12.

    Caring for the Physical Health of People with Schizophrenia

    Many GPs are not particularly good at monitoring the physical health of their schizophrenia patients.



    Possible Causes Of Schizophrenia

    Like pneumonia, which can be caused by various bacteria, viruses, or chemicals, schizophrenia probably has multiple causes, all of which affect the brain in related ways. Research suggests that both genes and environmental factors are involved in developing schizophrenia. While 1 out of every 100 people has schizophrenia, having a biological relative with schizophrenia increases a persons risk of developing this disorder. A person who has a genetically identical twin with schizophrenia has a 50% chance of having schizophrenia. A person with a sibling or a parent with schizophrenia has a 10% chance of having schizophrenia. Research is aimed at finding both the genetic factors that may put a person at increased risk for schizophrenia, and the environmental factors that may be involved. There is active and exciting research to find the genes that increase risk for schizophrenia. Three areas on various chromosomes have been linked to schizophrenia in more than one study; however, the actual gene that increases risk for schizophrenia has not yet been found.

    These and other studies hold promise for our eventual understanding of how genes and environment may interact to cause schizophrenia. Regardless, evidence is overwhelming that schizophrenia is a biologically based illness and that the previous view that parents or families cause schizophrenia is totally without merit.

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    Is The Effect Conditional On Genetic Risk

    Is Schizophrenia a Mental Illness?

    A final and important clue as to the mechanism whereby factors in the urban environment raise the rate of schizophrenia comes from recent work suggesting a general mechanism of geneenvironment interaction. As many people live in urban areas but only a tiny minority of these will develop schizophrenia, it is likely that the urban exposure is conditional on some other factor. Three recent studies using indirect measures of genetic risk have suggested that there is synergism between environmental factors in the urban environment, on the one hand, and familial morbid risk20, 27 and psychometric expression of psychosis liability, on the other. The data presented in these studies suggest that most of the impact of the environmental factors in the urban environment is conditional on preexisting indicators of genetic risk for psychosis.

    Identifying Environmental Risk Factors For Schizophrenia

    The degree of risk of schizophrenia in members of families with one or more patients with schizophrenia correlates with the degree of biological relatedness between the relative and the patient: the closer the relationship, the higher the level of risk. Yet even if an individual has an identical twin with schizophrenia, or two affected parents, the risk is nowhere near 100%. In the case of identical twins with one affected member, the genetic predisposition is present in both individuals, but is expressed only in the twin who has undergone certain environmental experiences as well. Consistent with this view, Gottesman & Bertelsen showed that the offspring of identical twins who were discordant for schizophrenia showed similar rates of developing the disorder, regardless of whether their parent was the affected or the unaffected twin.

    How Is Schizophrenia Diagnosed

    If symptoms of schizophrenia are present, the doctor will perform a complete medical history and sometimes a physical exam. While there are no laboratory tests to specifically diagnose schizophrenia, the doctor may use various tests, and possibly blood tests or brain imaging studies, to rule out another physical illness or intoxication as the cause of the symptoms.

    If the doctor finds no other physical reason for the schizophrenia symptoms, they may refer the person to a psychiatrist or psychologist, mental health professionals trained to diagnose and treat mental illnesses. Psychiatrists and psychologists use specially designed interviews and assessment tools to evaluate a person for a psychotic disorder. The therapist bases their diagnosis on the person’s and family’s report of symptoms and their observation of the person’s attitude and behavior.

    A person is diagnosed with schizophrenia if they have at least two of these symptoms for at least 6 months:

    • Delusions

    One of the symptoms has to be

    • Delusions
    • Hallucinations
    • Disorganized speech

    During the 6 months, the person must have a month of active symptoms. Symptoms should negatively affect them socially or at work, and canât be caused by any other condition.

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