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The Biological Basis Of Schizophrenia Research Paper.

The Biological Basis Of Schizophrenia Research Paper.


Schizophrenia is a mental illness that is characterized by a severe disabling brain disorder that becomes chronic in some cases. A person with this disorder often changes his behavior, perception and thinking such that they become disoriented from their sense of reality. Much stigma is associated with schizophrenia due to the changes in behavior that occur once the disease strikes. A person with schizophrenia may get delusional whereby they acquire false beliefs of guilt, special powers, persecution and, they may keep on feeling like other people are plotting evil against them (Larry, 2003). These people may also get hallucinations such that they keep on hearing, seeing, smelling or sensing things that in reality do not exist. In most cases, the sick person exhibits thought disorders whereby their speech does not consist of any logical flow. In addition, a person suffering from schizophrenia may lack drive, concentration, emotion, insight, and social skills.
Schizophrenia is a mental illness that has been considered for thousands of years. In the beginning, doctors and psychiatrists did not differentiate the different types of mental disorders and all of these illnesses were treated in the same manner. German physician, Emil Kraepelin was among the first people to categorize mental illnesses into different types such as ‘dementia praecox’ that can be associated with schizophrenia (Kim, 2011). In the subsequent years, physicians and psychiatrists continued to study different symptoms for different mental disorders, and they even categorized various types of schizophrenia. This breakthrough refuted the early beliefs that schizophrenia was caused by evil spirits, a misconception that had made people to use dangerous means of exorcising the sick.
The following paper describes the biological theories concerning schizophrenia (one of the most devastating of all psychological disorders), affecting about one percent of the total population. The paper will also explain the biological therapies that exist and show how effective these therapies are in handling schizophrenia.The Biological Basis Of Schizophrenia Research Paper.


Current Biological theories concerning Schizophrenia

Although it has proved difficult to identify the exact causes of schizophrenia, several factors have been cited to contribute to this mental disorder. The theories could be physical, genetic, psychological and even environmental. In this paper, the focus is inclined towards the biological factors that may trigger psychotic episodes in schizophrenia cases. The biological theories seem to focus on structural, functional and genetics aspects of the brain abnormalities.

Genetic factors

There exists strong evidence that genes contribute to the risk associated with schizophrenia. Schizophrenia occurs in families, and research shows that various combinations of genes may make people more vulnerable to the disorder. A study done on twins brought up separately revealed that genes contribute to development of schizophrenia though genetic components are not the only factors that may lead to this disorder. Genes do play a major role in the transmission of the disorders, and the risk of developing the disorder is high in two categories of relatives. These two classes of people are those who share a considerable number of genes such as a child borne of two schizophrenic people and monozygotic twin of a schizophrenic person. Studies shown by Gottesman and Shields revealed that cases of schizophrenia in monozygotic twins ranged from 35- 58% as compared to dizygotic twin that ranged from 9- 26%, assuming that the shared environmental factors were equal (Kim, 2011). A study done on adopted persons showed that the prevalence of the disorder was exclusively in their biological relatives but not in the adoptees.The Biological Basis Of Schizophrenia Research Paper.

Brain development

Structure of the brain together with the any changes that affect the distribution of brain cells can lead to schizophrenia. In most cases, schizophrenia affects people who are in adolescence and adulthood due to the fact that brain develops throughout childhood and adolescence. Larry (2003) cited that synaptic eliminations that occur during adolescence may result into psychotic disorders. Furthermore, studies suggest that the long latent time between cerebral insults and the occurrence of schizophrenia may explain how levels of brain maturation may lead the disorder. There has been a connection between hormonal maturity in young people and the appearance of schizophrenia. This explains why psychiatrists and other doctors believe that structural maturity of the brain is a major factor in the development of schizophrenia during puberty and old age.


Neurotransmitters refer to chemicals used to carry signals or messages across various brain cells. The major types of neurotransmitters that usually play a role in the onset of the disorder are dopamine, serotonin and glutamate (Maddux, 2005). Over activity of dopamine is thought to be concerned with this mental disorder due to several reasons. One of the reasons is that medication that reduces dopamine in the brain usually brings out positive results in patients with schizophrenia. Also, any drug that adds more dopamine to the brain leads to an increase in psychotic signs of the disease. It has been suggested that dopamine exhibits a high level of activity in early adulthoods that could explain the period of appearance of schizophrenia. In addition, 5-HT (serotonin) is a chemical thought to be a contributing factor to schizophrenia since the hallucinogen LSD is usually a 5-HT agonist (Maddux, 2005). In most cases of schizophrenia, the patient shows a low level of 5-HT2A receptors and a high level of 5-HT1A receptors. An imbalance between serotonin and dopamine may cause schizophrenia. A dysfunction of glutamate is also thought to be involved with schizophrenia especially in its interaction with dopamine.

Viral Infections

Research shows that there is a connection between viral infections and the onset of schizophrenia. Studies done have revealed that people who are exposed to viruses during their development have high chances of getting schizophrenia. For example, persons born in the months of winter tend to be at a high risk of contacting viral infections that may lead to schizophrenia. Mothers who are exposed to influenza virus had a high risk of getting children who suffered from schizophrenia. The same thing happens with other viral infections such as polio and flu virus. Schizophrenia was characterized by viral infections that occurred in the second trimester of fetal development. This is because this stage of development is very crucial and any disruption in brain growth may lead to the mental disorder (Noll, 2007).The Biological Basis Of Schizophrenia Research Paper.

Pregnancy and its related complications

Pregnancy and birth complications may lead to high chances of getting schizophrenia later in life. Abnormal growth of the baby while in the womb may lead to a risk in acquiring the mental disorder. Abnormalities may have been caused by malnutrition, prematurity, hypoxia or ischemia during pregnancy (Kim, 2011). Such abnormalities usually result in reduced levels of oxygen, nutrients and other minerals that are crucial for the development of CNS. Obstetric complications such as asphyxia or unavoidable CS have also been termed as causes of development of this mental disorder. Other factors related to pregnancy such as bleeding, preeclampsia or gestational diabetes is thought to increase the chances of getting schizophrenia later in life.

Head and brain injuries

In some cases, traumatic head injuries can be said to cause an increased likelihood of acquiring psychotic signs such as schizophrenia- like symptoms. Although schizophrenia seems to be a complex condition altogether, scientists suggest that brain injury may directly cause the disorder. In case a head injury is serious and leads to an impact on the areas of the brain that have control functions, this may lead to development of mental illness such as schizophrenia. People may be aware of the fact that brain injury may lead to psychiatric or neurocognitive illnesses but they do not understand the trend that relates head injury and schizophrenia.The Biological Basis Of Schizophrenia Research Paper.

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