The Science Behind Schizophrenia

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Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that targets the brain’s forebrain, hindbrain and limbic system. The limbic system is responsible for controlling moods and emotions. Therefore, individuals with schizophrenia have trouble telling what is real and not real, thinking clearly, conveying normal emotional responses and acting normal in social situations. Neurotransmitters, messengers of the brain who carry information from one cell to another, have been linked to schizophrenia. They control the release of dopamine and glutamate. High or low levels of these can cause psychotic symptoms, paranoid thinking, memory issues, and learning disabilities.

Causes of schizophrenia are unknown but studies have shown correlation between this disorder and genetic make-up, pre-natal viruses, and early brain damage, which cause neurotransmitter problems in the brain. It has been discovered that families, where schizophrenia occurs in one individual, are more likely to have other members develop the disorder. Schizophrenia occurs in 10 percent of people who have a first-degree relative with the disorder, such as a parent, brother, or sister.

Symptoms of this disorder develop gradually over time. Initial symptoms include irritable or tense feeling, trouble concentrating, and trouble sleeping. More progressive symptoms include hallucinations, isolating oneself, a lack of emotion, difficulty paying attention, and random thoughts that shift rapidly between topics. These symptoms begin to appear in men during their teens or 20’s, and in women during their 20’s or early 30’s.

Schizophrenia is a life-long illness that requires monitoring and treatment. There is no cure, but with the help of medications and psychosocial treatment it can be managed. Common medications include chlorpromazine, fluphenazine, haloperidol, and perphenazine. These drugs are most effective; however, increase the risk neurological side effects, including movement disorders. Methods of psychosocial treatment include social skills training, family therapy, vocational rehabilitation and supported employment, and individual therapy.

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 407-574-5190 for more information.



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