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Schizophrenia – Sample Paper

Schizophrenia is a serious mental disorder affecting many people today. In fact, it is estimated that 1 in 100 Americans is affected by the disorder. Over the years, people have developed myths regarding the disorder and those affected have been greatly mistaken to be violent and rather out of control. Generally, this can be attributed to the kind of behaviors exhibited by those affected. For instance, they tend to hear voices that other people can’t hear, see things others can’t see and sometimes imagine that people are reading their minds with an intention of plotting an attack on them. In other words, they interpret the reality around them differently and may respond in a manner that can put their lives at risk of harm. Therefore, this paper aims at exploring some of the etiological causes of the disorder, symptoms, nervous system structures involved, treatment options and future direction in terms of research and management of the disorder.

The magnitude of the effects of the disorder has inspired scientists to dig further into the research in a bid to establish the real underlying causes. Therefore, in as much as the exact cause of the disorder has not been established, it has been found that genetics and environment are the main players in the development of the disorder. Other than genetics and environment, scientists have also indicated that the disorder is closely linked with different brain chemistry and structure. Indeed, this is greatly supported by modern methods of studying the brain such as brain imaging that clearly shows the said difference (Mayo Clinic , 2014).

Genetically, it is believed that the disorder is not caused by a single gene as in the case of other disorders, but rather by several genes. In fact, according to recent research, people diagnosed with schizophrenia have shown high rates of rare genetic mutations. Moreover, the disorder is believed to be hereditary and occurs in one percent of the population. The risk is even higher in individuals with first degree relatives affected by the disorder estimated at 10 percent. In addition, twin studies have also revealed that an identical twin of a person affected by schizophrenia is at a higher risk of getting the disorder than any other person in the general population.

Other than genetic factors, environmental factors have also been identified as major causes of schizophrenia. Such factors include exposure to viruses or malnutrition prior to birth. In addition, the disorder can be caused by potential psychosocial and socioeconomic factors which basically interact with epigenetic gene development. It is also important to note that these developments vary depending on environmental pressure and therefore, interferes with the natural process (Grohol, 2014).

Through the help of technologies such as brain imaging which allows the study of the brain in its live state, scientists have established that people with schizophrenia tend to have a different brain structure. Basically, they tend to have enlarged brain ventricles which are a clear indication of the deficit in brain tissue volume. According to some studies, their temporal lobes also exhibit some abnormalities. In addition to these findings, it is also important to discuss the brain chemistry of people with schizophrenia. Studies have shown that there is a huge imbalance in the chemical reactions of the brain that involves the neurotransmitters dopamine and glutamate. Therefore, this implies that communications between brain cells are impaired.

Schizophrenia exhibits symptoms that can be categorized into the three forms; positive symptoms, negative symptoms and cognitive symptoms. Positive symptoms are basically psychotic behaviors that are not seen in healthy people. This means that people with positive symptoms tend to lose touch with the reality. Examples of these symptoms include hallucinations, where one sees, hears, smells or even feels what others cannot, delusions, where one has false beliefs such as believing that someone is spying on them and lastly movement disorder whereby one is either unable to move at all or makes constantly repeated movements (Smith, 2014).

Negative symptoms, on the other hand, are associated with disruptions to normal behaviors and emotions. Unfortunately, these symptoms are mistaken for depression making it hard to recognize as part of the disorder. The symptoms include; “flat affect”, loss of pleasure in everyday activity, inability to execute planned activities and speaking little no matter how much they are forced to interact. Cognitive symptoms are not much different as they are also subtle. They include poor executive function, difficulties in paying attention and problems with working memory.

Currently, the treatment options for the disorder focus on eliminating the symptoms. This is primarily because; the exact causes of the disorder have not been established. Therefore, the treatment options involve the use of antipsychotic medications as well as various psychosocial treatments (Mayo Clinic , 2014). The antipsychotic medications have been found to be effective especially in dealing with hallucinations. Examples include; chlorpromazine (Thorazine), Haloperidol, Perphenazine and fluphenazine. Psychosocial treatments, on the other hand, are effective when people with schizophrenia are already stabilized in antipsychotic medication. Since it is currently impossible to totally get rid of the disorder, the treatment options help patients to learn how to cope with the disorder. A good example is the use of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

Indeed, it is evident that people with schizophrenia suffer a lot. This is even worsened by the fact that some of the symptoms are mistaken for conditions such as depression and therefore, hinder timely treatments. However, the good news is that future directions for research and clinical management of the disorder are promising. The use of technologies such as brain imaging to study the brain is expected to yield more information regarding the disorder and the best treatment methods that can be used.

References

Grohol, J. M. (2014, July 9). Schizophrenia and Psychosis. Retrieved Oct 27, 2014, from PsychCentral: http://psychcentral.com/disorders/schizophrenia/

Mayo Clinic. (2014, Jan 24). Schizophrenia. Retrieved Oct 27, 2014, from Mayo Clinic: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/schizophrenia/basics/causes/con-20021077

Smith, M. (2014, Oct). Understanding Schizophrenia. Retrieved Oct 27, 2014, from Helpguide.org: http://www.helpguide.org/articles/schizophrenia/schizophrenia-signs-types-and-causes.htm


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