Psychology & Psychiatry

Researchers discover second type of schizophrenia

Penn Medicine researchers are the first to discover two distinct neuroanatomical subtypes of schizophrenia after analyzing the brain scans of over 300 patients. The first type showed lower widespread volumes of gray matter ...

Neuroscience

Protein interactions and brain function

Forty years since its discovery, much remains to be discovered about an enzyme called CaMKII that plays a key role in shaping learning and memory in the brain.

Medical research

How the brain detects fine differences

How do people manage to find their way around the neighborhood even though the streets look similar? Researchers at the University of Bonn have gained new insights into a mechanism that very likely plays a major role in this ...

Medications

Research offers promise for treating schizophrenia

Research by a University of Georgia psychologist shows that targeting one particular symptom of schizophrenia has a positive effect on other symptoms, offering significant promise for treating an aspect of schizophrenia that ...

Genetics

New clues into the genetic origins of schizophrenia

The first genetic analysis of schizophrenia in an ancestral African population, the South African Xhosa, appears in the Jan. 31 issue of the journal Science. An international group of scientists conducted the research, including ...

Psychology & Psychiatry

Early treatment of schizophrenia may not slow disease progression

Stony Brook University-led study reveals that, despite the common view that early intervention in schizophrenia slows or stops mental decline, those who receive early intervention eventually experience the same declines ...

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Schizophrenia (/ˌskɪtsɵˈfrɛniə/ or /ˌskɪtsɵˈfriːniə/) is a mental disorder characterized by a breakdown of thought processes and by poor emotional responsiveness. It most commonly manifests itself as auditory hallucinations, paranoid or bizarre delusions, or disorganized speech and thinking, and it is accompanied by significant social or occupational dysfunction. The onset of symptoms typically occurs in young adulthood, with a global lifetime prevalence of about 0.3–0.7%. Diagnosis is based on observed behavior and the patient's reported experiences.

Genetics, early environment, neurobiology, and psychological and social processes appear to be important contributory factors; some recreational and prescription drugs appear to cause or worsen symptoms. Current research is focused on the role of neurobiology, although no single isolated organic cause has been found. The many possible combinations of symptoms have triggered debate about whether the diagnosis represents a single disorder or a number of discrete syndromes. Despite the etymology of the term from the Greek roots skhizein (σχίζειν, "to split") and phrēn, phren- (φρήν, φρεν-; "mind"), schizophrenia does not imply a "split mind" and it is not the same as dissociative identity disorder—also known as "multiple personality disorder" or "split personality"—a condition with which it is often confused in public perception.

The mainstay of treatment is antipsychotic medication, which primarily suppresses dopamine (and sometimes serotonin) receptor activity. Psychotherapy and vocational and social rehabilitation are also important in treatment. In more serious cases—where there is risk to self and others—involuntary hospitalization may be necessary, although hospital stays are now shorter and less frequent than they once were.

The disorder is thought mainly to affect cognition, but it also usually contributes to chronic problems with behavior and emotion. People with schizophrenia are likely to have additional (comorbid) conditions, including major depression and anxiety disorders; the lifetime occurrence of substance abuse is almost 50%. Social problems, such as long-term unemployment, poverty and homelessness, are common. The average life expectancy of people with the disorder is 12 to 15 years less than those without, the result of increased physical health problems and a higher suicide rate (about 5%).

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