What Causes Schizophrenia?

GinaMarie Guarino, LMHC

What Is Schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a psychotic disorder that causes many scary experiences for affected people. People with schizophrenia will have many different symptoms, like:

  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Psychosis
  • Paranoia
  • Disorganized thoughts
  • Depression

Schizophrenia is a very difficult disorder to cope with on a daily basis. It affects many areas of a person’s life. Day to day activities and interpersonal relationships are negatively affected by symptoms.

It is important to know if you are at risk for schizophrenia if you are experiencing symptoms. Typically, a person with schizophrenia will begin to show symptoms around age 19-25. However, there are cases of people showing symptoms as late as age 35 and as early as 5 years old.

Professionals have identified several different causes for the onset of schizophrenia. There are genetic, biological, environmental, and neurological components to consider for diagnosis.

The following are possible causes for the onset of schizophrenia:

Abnormal Brain Structure and Chemistry

Research has found evidence that the brain structure and chemistry is different in a person with schizophrenia. The differences found between a typical brain and a brain of a schizophrenic include:

Research has found evidence that the brain structure and chemistry is different in a person with schizophrenia.

The abnormalities found in the brain of someone with schizophrenia include:

  • An Enlarged Ventricle. An enlarged ventricle causes other areas of the brain to be compromised. This serves as a contributing factor to the psychotic features of schizophrenia.
  • A Compromised Thalamus. The thalamus is typically smaller as a result of the enlarged ventricle. The thalamus is responsible for receiving and interpreting sensory information.
  • An Imbalance of Dopamine. There is a dopamine imbalance that causes too much dopamine to be released. This results in psychotic symptoms.
  • Reduced Memory Function. Professionals have found that people with schizophrenia have reduced memory function. This reduced memory function contributes to the symptoms experienced by someone with schizophrenia.

Birth Complications

Birth complications are risk factors for schizophrenia. The following are common complications that have occurred with people with schizophrenia:

  • Exposure to infection during the prenatal stages or early infancy
  • Head trauma during birth or in early infancy
  • Low oxygen levels at birth
  • Abuse or neglect during infancy and/or childhood

Genetics

The recreational use of illegal drugs puts a person at risk of schizophrenia. Drugs affect thoughts and emotions. It affects how the world is perceived and interpreted.

Drugs that contribute to the onset of schizophrenia include:

  • LSD
  • cocaine
  • MDMA (ecstasy)
  • amphetamines
  • marijuana

Substance Abuse

It has been found that the recreational use of illegal psychotropic drugs puts a person at risk. Psychotropic drugs affect thoughts and emotions. It also affects how the world is perceived and interpreted. Psychotropic drugs include:

  • LSD
  • cocaine
  • MDMA (ecstasy)
  • amphetamines
  • marijuana

Upbringing

Evidence supports that history of abuse or trauma during childhood can increase risk of schizophrenia. Studies support that children who suffered trauma or abuse before 16 years old are 3x more likely to suffer from schizophrenia.

Schizophrenia can develop as the result of neglect during infancy and childhood years. According to research, the following increases risk of schizophrenia:

  • Not receiving unconditional love from parents
  • Malnutrition
  • Not feeling secure or protected at home
  • Lack of guidance from parents
  • An unsafe or chaotic home environment

There are many contributing factors for the onset of schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is a scary diagnosis. It takes courage to come to terms with the need to address symptoms.

If left untreated, schizophrenia can cause major life complications. It could even cause the affected person to de-compensate, or lose touch with reality.

It is important that you seek professional help if you or someone you love is experiencing symptoms. They can help you understand the warning signs of schizophrenia. With treatment schizophrenia can be managed. If left untreated, schizophrenia has serious consequences on your health.

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