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Living a Full Life with Schizophrenia

The Causes of Schizophrenia

The Causes of Schizophrenia

There are many answers to questions inquiring into the root causes of schizophrenia, and while these answers are somewhat satisfactory, the entire truth of the matter is that the picture is not clear.  Place several medical professionals in one room and ask this question and be ready for a debate that will last for ages.  The reason is that for all of the proposed mechanisms of schizophrenia, some professionals discount, disagree to the level of each mechanism’s contribution, or solely propose that a single factor is to blame.

The Confusion of Causality – What Causes Schizophrenia?

Another item of interest that increases the level of confusion in determining the cause of schizophrenia has to do with the fact that there is no specific common factor amongst all people diagnosed.  This has led many researchers to adopt the belief that schizophrenia may be the result of certain vulnerabilities of the brain and psyche in combination with exposure to certain stressors in life.

With this being said, we will take a look at each possible contributing factor to the schizophrenic syndrome, hopefully to shed some light on the possible interactions between them.  We will concern ourselves with genetics, prenatal and perinatal causes, brain infections, childhood exposures and environmental causes, substance abuse, and life stressors.

The Contribution of Genetics

After much research, it has been concluded that there are many genes that all interact in tandem to create a vulnerability in a person which could result in a schizophrenia diagnosis.

For example, reelin is a glycoprotein that regulates and enables the process of neural migration in the hippocampus in the brain.  More than half of schizophrenics in a particular study had genetic issues that related to a lessoning of the expression of reelin compared to the control group of non-schizophrenics.  These reelin deficits also exist in people diagnosed with autism and manic-depression as well.  This is simply a correlation and not true causation, because it is difficult to isolate the variable of anti-psychotic medications which also affect the levels and expression of reelin.  It would be unethical to deny someone the medications that make them more comfortable.  Time will tell on this one.

In meta-analyses of many studies using twins, it was determined that the risk for being diagnosed with schizophrenia was up to 75% if a parent was diagnosed.  This means that some vulnerability is definitely inheritable.  Monozygotic twins featured a concordance rate of almost 50%, while dizygotic twins were lower, but still significant, at 18%.  Even longitudinal adoption studies show that there is an increased risk is children of a schizophrenic parent when raised apart from the parent.

Of course, there are arguments concerning the methodology of the studies, or the consideration of the placenta as part of the environment, all which blur the contribution of genetics as a cause for schizophrenia.  If you were to locate and read the many other genetic studies, besides just the small sampling mentioned above, you would likely conclude with some confidence that genetics does play a role in a diagnosis for schizophrenia.  The questions remains, “how much of a role?”

Prenatal and Perinatal Causes

Complications in the womb or at the time of birth are without question a contributor to an eventual diagnosis, although the risk they add is small in relation to other factors.  Obstetric problems arise in the birth process of at least one fourth of the population, and most of these individuals do not become schizophrenic, and also many people diagnosed with schizophrenia never had any negative events prenatally.  It is not known what it is in these negative obstetric events that contributes to schizophrenia, which is why it is considered a non-specific risk factor.

There have been some non-scientific correlations drawn that suggest various mechanisms through which a prenatal event can increase the risk.  For instance, babies born in the spring or winter months in the northern hemisphere have an increased, although admittedly small, chance of an eventual diagnosis.  Many attempts to connect the dots have been made, from an increased exposure to viruses or a lack of exposure to vitamin D during these months.  Another correlation drawn was the increased amount of diagnoses made for children whose mothers were pregnant during the 1944 famine in the Netherlands.  This means there could be some connection between malnutrition and hunger and schizophrenia.  Stressors on the mother, such as cases where the husband perished during war time, seems to increase the probability of a diagnosis as well.

Attempts to find correlations between low birth weights and schizophrenia have been made but are not conclusive in any fashion.  A contributor to low birth weight is, however, low oxygen levels, known as hypoxia, and is a definite risk factor for schizophrenia.  Between hypoxia and issues surrounding metabolism, clinicians have been able to identify the schizophrenic nine times out of ten.  They both influence the possibility of developing schizophrenia.  Part of the reason hypoxia contributes to susceptibility is that a reduced level of oxygen in the fetus is related to a reduced volume and mass in the hippocampus, which as we discussed earlier with reelin can have a significant impact on the development of schizophrenic symptoms.  Of course, exposure to toxic elements such as lead while in the womb can enhance the risk as well.

Viral Infections and Exposure

In early childhood, including toddlerhood or even in utero, being exposed to certain, yet plentiful, viruses can increase the risk of a schizophrenia diagnosis.  As mentioned earlier, being born in the spring or winter when viral infections are more prevalent can result a higher chance of developing this psychological disorder.

There have been a couple studies that have demonstrated, and a couple that haven’t found, a correlation between exposure to influenza as a child and the emergence of schizophrenia later in life.  There are other viral infections that have been found to increase the likelihood of this mental illness emerging, such as herpes, rubella, measles, polio, and others.

In relation to viruses, there have been studies that seem to link autoimmune deficiencies and diseases with schizophrenia.  Support for this pathogenic or germ theory of schizophrenia lies in the presence of certain antibodies in the body, meaning the individual has either been exposed to a certain virus in the womb or to the antibodies to the virus after the mother had become infected and began warding off the virus.

Other exposures during the early stages of life can leave visible behavioral signs that can be indicative of the future possibility of schizophrenia.  Large indicators are deficits in motor skills and other neurobehavioral problems.  Consistently reaching normal developmental milestones late, such as the appearance of proper speech, socialization, emotional expression, school performance, and other somewhat general items can all be indicative of a higher risk of developing this illness.  In regards to the environment, physical, psychological, and emotional abuse or trauma experiences also elevate the risk of schizophrenia development.

Substance Abuse and Chemical Dependency

Drug use has a strange relationship with our psychological impairment of concern.  It does seem that there are instances of drug-induced schizophrenia in individuals who may have seemed to carry a predisposition for the illness.  They can also trigger a relapse, which is why anyone with schizophrenic symptoms should certainly abstain altogether from substance use.

The difficulty in comprehending the relationship is that, some of the symptoms arising in schizophrenia can also arise from drug use.  And we can’t know whether the chemical dependency began after the symptoms of schizophrenia appeared and were used as a method of self-medicating, or whether the substance abuse began before and triggered the schizophrenic break.

High levels of cannabis consumption have been attributed with doubling and even up to multiplying the risk of developing schizophrenia by six times.  It is said to be responsible for just under ten percent of cases of schizophrenia altogether.  Amphetamines can not only mimic but worsen the symptoms of schizophrenia due to the excessive release of dopamine.  Hallucinogens produce states that closely resemble schizophrenic states, especially the dissociatives.  These all have the potential to trigger and emergence of symptoms.

Life Stressors and Experiences

The more negative factors in childhood, such as low socioeconomic status or being ostracized can greatly increase the chances of developing this psychological difficulty.  Dysfunction within the family, being discriminated against for races, gender, or sexual preference, unemployment, and more are all risk factors.

Hostility, authoritarian personality styles that are commandeering and controlling, intrusions, and other negative relationship styles that are present during critical moments can trigger the emergence or a relapse of schizophrenic symptoms.  A low sense of self, self-imagery, self-perception and confidence, and other self-disapprovals all increase the risk.

Concluding the Causes of Schizophrenia

Although the above represent many of the possible factors influencing the risk of developing schizophrenia, there are some notable psychiatrists and psychologists who feel that the symptoms are not simply meaningless expressions of an illness, but are cathartic expressions indicative of a transformative experience.

They believe that schizophrenia and madness arise as a response to the demands that cannot possibly be filled by the individual.  Society and family can have expectations that are incomprehensible, contradictory, or impossible, and when placed on sensitive individuals, the mind begins to attempt to reconcile these things and spews forth psychotic material, that if interpreted in the context of the individual’s situation, can offer insight into the situation and a possible cure.

Whatever the true causes are, we are coming ever closer to learning.  We, as a society, will never cease the hunt until the cause is determined, and a method for prevention and/or cure is available!

Click Your State to View the Surrounding Schizophrenia Treatment Centers

To view the the schizophrenia treatment centers in your local area, please click the state in which you live on the map above or find your state in the alphabetized links above. Each respective page will lists the name, address, and contact number for each individual treatment center. You may also visit the top level page of the directory by clicking here and navigate further from there.
Read the description and visit the personal webpage of each treatment center to find out more information. You can contact them from there, but we understand that this is a tedious and intimidating process, so we've provided a form you can fill out with the requested information and we'll set you up with the most appropriate treatment center for your needs.
If you require further assistance, please don't hesitate to contact us at Schiz Life. We are here to serve the needs of the schizophrenia community and are happy to do so!

Schiz Life - Living With Schizophrenia

living with schizophrenia
For many of us, living with schizophrenia is our reality. And instead of struggling with the wish of how things “could be,” we finally come to an acceptance of our predicament and ultimately we embrace the fact of our lives: We are people dealing with schizophrenia. So then the question becomes not “Why” we suffer from this illness, but “How” we will cope and continue to enjoy our lives. We certainly will not give up! We have every right to demand the niceties, freedoms, and enjoyments of life to which all living creatures are entitled. This is what Schiz Life is all about.

Mission Statement Concerning Schizophrenia Information and Culture

Schiz Life serves to…

  • • Provide a safe haven for persons who wish to converse, cope, and share their experiences with schizophrenia in a positive manner in an attempt to celebrate the beauty of life, especially concerning our unique perspective on existence.
  • • Provide the highest quality of information concerning our psychological difficulties, including a frame of reference on the symptoms, treatment, history, and the future of schizophrenia.
  • • Take corrective action to dispel the myths and stigma surrounding schizophrenia, such as false ideas surrounding the cause, associations with violence, and others, all being perpetuated by the media by providing truth through scientific research and statistics.

Schiz Life intends to achieve this goal in the following manner:

The Schiz Life Schizophrenia Action Plan

  1. 1. We will continue to take advantage of internet outreach, contacting news agencies and other medical bloggers in hopes that they will join us in raising awareness of schizophrenia.
  2. 2. We will continue to promote this website through video and media outlets, including the dissemination of informational videos and graphics such as the first official schizophrenia infographic.
  3. 3. We will all contribute where possible off-line, including at health expo’s, psychology conferences, and any other relevant opportunity to spread the good word.

Thank You for Your Part in the Schizophrenia Journey!

We all thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, for playing your role in the developing journey surrounding schizophrenia awareness and research. With all of our combined efforts, we will change the way the world perceives this illness and we will advance the medical efforts of professionals in their search for a cure and effective medicines. Thank you again!

Do Your Part!

Do you know of a great schizophrenia resource out there? Let us know! Do you see a person in need inside the comments of this site? Lend them some advice or encouragement! Are you a graphic designer or artist? Show us your work and I'm sure we can find some way to include your skills here on the site. Are you a writer who would like to contribute to the site? Shoot us an email and we'll discuss it. This site is for all of us and excludes none of us. Contact us for any reason and get involved!

Who Else is Helping?

Our content has been linked to or distributed by...

Mental Health TalkHealthy DebateTechnorati
Wellness WordworksVisuallyexaminer

...and also the sites listed below and more!

Try This Quick Schizophrenia Mini-Quiz:

This is but a quick quiz to test your general knowledge of schizophrenia. If you would like to take the extended and in-depth quiz, venture over to our Schizophrenia Quiz page and see just how much you know! Try the Schizophrenia Test to gauge your symptom levels.

Schizophrenia Quiz Directions: Please select the correct answer for each question and then press the button below to grade your quiz.

1. What is the term for perceiving stimuli that doesn't exist?




2. Which is NOT a type of schizophrenia?




3. Which of the following is a symptom of schizophrenia?




4. How common is schizophrenia in the general population?




5. Who can diagnose a case of schizophrenia?




6. How can schizophrenia be treated?




7. Are the causes of schizophrenia genetic or environmental?




8. What is the most common age of onset?




9. Catatonia is categorized as what type of symptom?




10. Is Schiz Life the best website about schizophrenia?




 

Show me the answers!

 

Question 1: The correct answer is the Hallucination.
Question 2: The correct answer is Hyperlipid.
Question 3: The correct answer is All of the Above.
Question 4: The correct answer is 1%.
Question 5: The correct answer is A Doctor.
Question 6: The correct answer is All of the Above Should Be Used.
Question 7: The correct answer is Both.
Question 8: The correct answer is 25.
Question 9: The correct answer is Negative.
Question 10: The correct answer is DON'T BE A PARTY POOPER!.
You answered them all right! Good job! You know a little something about schizophrenia, don't you!

 

How To Use This Site

If you're brand new to this site, it might look overwhelming until you get a sense of where things are at.  Schiz Life is a content-based site, much like a newspaper or a magazine.  However, we focus strictly and solely on schizophrenia.  So where does all of this content reside?  We have decided to separate our articles into several categories, as described below:

Basics

This category will be of the most interest to those who wish to gain a very broad but shallower overview of the entirety of the academic view of schizophrenia.  We cover all of the topics you'd expect to find in an abnormal psychology text book here, and at a similar depth.  It is a great introduction to this illness and will guide you further along into deeper topics.

Knowledge

We cover various angles such as statistics, research, and more factually based views of schizophrenia and place them in this category.  One could say that it is almost a repository for article that don't fit into the other categories, but it is more than that.  Go check it to find out more!

Treatment

The name says it all.  This category of content covers all topics related to the treatment and prevention of schizophrenia and its relapses.  We've started with the empirically sound and scientifically backed methods first, but we intend to venture into more holistic and alternative therapies as well.  Without investigating all options, progress wont' be made, and so we do.

Symptoms

There are countless symptoms involved in schizophrenia. We cover them in depth in this category, including the positive (outward) and negative (inward) symptoms of every type of this disorder.  There is much to read here, so if a particular symptom is giving you or a loved one trouble, this is the place to go and learn more about it.

Coping

What use is all of this information when we simply don't feel good enough to read it and learn?  The category for coping provides many ideas that you can apply to your own life to help you maintain the best health possible, physically, psychologically, and spiritually.  Schizophrenia is a mental illness that some of us simply cannot escape, but we can learn to live with it, minimize its problematic aspects, and take advantage of some of the aspects it unlocks within us that others don't have!

Culture

Let's face it.  People are afraid of what they don't understand.  This category addresses the cultural issue of schizophrenia and it's impacts on the way we are treated or perceived by the masses.  It is up to us to represent ourselves in the best light and to combat the myths and misunderstandings that exist in the world concerning our plight.  Learn about these issues here and apply them in your lives!

Spectrum

There are other classifications of illnesses that are very closely related to schizophrenia.  The only differences might just be a research label actually, but we have found it useful to place these articles in a category of their own.  We deal with schizophreniform and psychosis disorders and their respective symptoms here.

Spirituality

While the medical community deals with schizophrenia as a psychological or physical disorder of the brain, those of us who actually experience it know it is much more.  It is a philosophical, spiritual, metaphysical, and mythological issue.  Coming to terms with this, confronting it, integrating it, and reconciling it leads to much higher functioning not only as an individual diagnosed with schizophrenia but as a member of society in general.  We have a deeper access to this aspect of life and have a great opportunity for learning and healing.

Artwork

Many of us past and present have chosen to express ourselves through the arts.  Whether this is painting and drawing, poetry, dancing, or any other artform, it is healthy and beautiful.  We are writing biographies, displaying artwork, and welcoming submissions from our own community to be included here in this category!  Please submit if you have something to share!

News

The internet has opened up the world.  There is a constant flow of news concerning our illness but you wouldn't know it by watching the television.  We cover new research topics, treatment modalities, and nationwide and worldwide coverage of schizophrenia or incidents related to it in this category!

Other Items

We have also included other items of interest throughout our website.  For instance, we are producing a series of infographics to help educate the public on this topic.  We also are collecting and reviewing books concerning the illness.  In addition, we have created a directory for the United States of all treatment facilities and hospitals that have staff that are trained to work with schizophrenia cases.  Please look around and find these sections and more.

Disclaimer

There is something that was slightly mentioned in the footer of the site, but that could be overlooked easily so we felt it was the responsible thing to do to create a large disclaimer to be displayed here on the homepage.  This has to do completely with safety.  Let us explain.

Individual Uniqueness

unique individualEvery individual on this planet is a unique person.  Even more so, those of us dealing with this special psychological difficulty are even more unique, if that makes sense.  On this site, we are talking about one of the most complex brain mysteries ever and it expresses itself through every person differently.  Every case is going to have it's own peculiarities and all we are able to do in the articles on the site is speak in generalities.  We invite anyone to leave appropriate comments and engage in discussion, however we can't take responsibility for their words.  Nor can we take responsibility for the actions of any individual or group who have at one time or another visited our website.

Always Consult a Medical Professional

medical professionalIf you find yourself in a situation where you're trying to learn more about your condition or are trying to cope through a moment of crisis, please do not act upon any of the information listed on this site, whether in the main content or comments, without first corroborating the accuracy of the info with a medical professional first.  Reach out to a general practitioner, psychiatrist, psychologist, or counselor.  Even then it's always helpful to have a second opinion from a separate professional as well.  Again, we must stress... always act with safety as the foremost concern, and this means consulting professionals before engaging in any practice intended to treat your condition.

Please Be Considerate About Delusions

delusion discussionWe understand that delusions can be very confusing and convincing.  We also understand that delusions can center around topics that simply are too philosophical to be proven wrong or correct and thus are tempting to explore in-depth.  We have no problem with this exploration as long as it is not harmful to those discussing it.  Please use your best discretion in this regard.  If the staff of Schiz Life step in and begin deleting comments or halting a conversation, please respect their decision and understand it is not personal.

Investigating delusions is encouraged.  Delusions are interesting due to their nature of being understood as strange and outside the norm of the culture of the experiencer, but there is a vast number of individuals visiting this site from many cultures.  There is a subtle difference between discussing these topics, and encouraging or trolling.  Please find that balance and abide by the above suggestions.

We also, under no circumstances, will tolerate anyone discussing or suggesting harming themselves or others.  Past-tense symptom discussion in this regard is fine, but nothing in the future tense will be allowed.

General Discussion Guidelines

We encourage discussion in the comments as much as possible and are looking into offering a forum and personal blogs as well.  In all of these mediums when carrying on conversation, there are some useful questions to ask yourself before posting that comment or response.

The main question to ask yourself is the following:

Is what I'm about to post going to help and support or will it further entrench illness and suffering?

Please consider this as you enjoy Schiz Life.  Try not to post angry or hurtful comments.  Try not to criticize or blame others.  Be as supportive, encouraging, and respecting as you can.  Accepting and negotiating differences is key to carrying on constructive conversation.

Remember, there is a real person on the other side of the screen.  It's easy to assume the other person is in a similar situation as yourself, but you don't know the extent of their emotions, symptoms, nor their age or even gender.

Let's Do This Together!

Let's have a supportive and comforting community where we all feel open and able to share as much as possible.  If you receive support from someone, please pay that forward and try to help out someone else.  If we all do this, we should all be okay!  Thank you for reading and enjoying this thing we are building together.

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