The Seeds of Schizophrenia May Be in the Genes

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In many ways, we are only beginning to understand mental illness disorders. And, each advance in our understanding gives us better tools to treat, diagnose and even predict mental illness. Recent studies of DNA now give stronger indications than ever that the cause of schizophrenia and a number of other mental health disorders may be, in part, genetic.

Schizophrenia has a high hereditary factor; this has led many researchers to believe that the disorder could have a genetic link. Researchers from the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research at Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard recently identified over 100 genes that could play a role on schizophrenia. Scientists are still untangling what the role of these genes are. Some, as expected, were related to the brain chemical dopamine. Others, however, involve the immune system. Still others were associated with behaviors like heavy smoking. It is currently theorized that the genes in question may play more than one role; for instance, affecting the immune system in one way and the brain in another.

Other evidence of schizophrenia’s genetic factors comes from the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium, formed in 2007. Since that time, the group has analyzed DNA from 33,000 patients who suffer from maladies that include schizophrenia, autism, depression, bipolar disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Their work identified a number of genes that are shared by people diagnosed with these disorders. The scientists have developed a theory that these disorders may be linked or may even be different expressions of a single disorder.

Two of the genes identified work to control the movement of calcium in and out of brain cells, which is related to how brain cells communicate with one another. Scientists theorize that the changes in movement could, depending on other environmental factors, eventually lead to mental illness.

While theories about the causes of mental illness like schizophrenia are continuing to be developed, here at Pasadena Villa, we employ the most up to date treatments in a safe and caring environment. Our unique Social Integration Model immerses patients into real life activities to help them develop the tools for life outside a treatment facility. Patients live in a warm and therapeutic atmosphere to regain control of their lives and develop social and communication skills. Contact us today if you or a family member would benefit from our unique residential mental health care.

The Villa Orlando and Pasadena Villa’s Smoky Mountain Lodge are adult intensive psychiatric residential treatment centers for clients with serious mental illnesses. We also provide other individualized therapy programs, step-down residential programs, and less intensive mental health services, such as Community Residential Homes, Supportive Housing, Day Treatment Programs and Life Skills training. Pasadena Villa’s Outpatient Center in Raleigh, North Carolina offers partial hospitalization (PHP) and an intensive outpatient program (PHP). If you or someone you know may need mental health services, please complete our contact form or call us at 407-215-2519 for more information.


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