What is Schizophrenia?
With 20 million people around the world living with the condition, schizophrenia is a very present mental condition. Yet, many have misconceptions about schizophrenia, assuming it entails violent behavior, or means the patient has multiple personalities. This is mostly due to the lack of information and stigma people have about schizophrenia. It is important to understand that, like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s, schizophrenia also impacts brain health, albeit in a different way.
Schizophrenia often results in a distortion between reality and imagination, where the patient has hallucinations and believes they are hearing things. Symptoms of schizophrenia are often broken down into three categories: psychotic symptoms, negative symptoms, and cognitive symptoms. Psychotic symptoms include delusions, and altered perceptions. Negative symptoms refer to decreasing motivation, and the ‘flat affect’ where the patient struggles to convey emotions via facial expressions or tone. Cognitive symptoms encompass difficulties with concentration and attention.
Contrary to common belief, being genetically related to someone with schizophrenia does not mean you have the condition. This is because there is not one single gene which causes schizophrenia, but instead studies have found that many different genes increase the risk of having the condition. Environmental factors, like living in poverty or stressful situations, also play their part.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for schizophrenia and its impact on brain health. The condition is currently treated using antipsychotic medication and behaviour therapy. Recent studies have found promising results for deep-brain stimulation to treat the symptoms of schizophrenia. The procedure uses surgery to implant electrodes into the brain to deliver electronic pulses, and is thought to be helpful in preventing auditory hallucinations . However, considerably more research into this procedure, and many others is required
This makes it imperative for clinical trials into schizophrenia, as well as overall brain health to take place. In science, knowledge is power, and researchers need much more information about the brain to find a cure for conditions like schizophrenia. Find out how you can help in discovering medical breakthroughs through clinical trials here.