Dual Diagnosis

Schizophrenia: 5 Possible Sources of This Devastating Mental Disorder

Schizophrenia: 5 Possible Sources of this Devastating Mental Disorder

What causes schizophrenia? It isn't easy to say, but there are 5 common sources which may contribute to schizophrenia. Learn more in our blog!

Where does schizophrenia come from?

It is no secret that mental health awareness was taboo until two years ago. It was during the pandemic that the world went into isolation. People were left to confront their emotions and stress, which is when problems like bipolar disorder and schizophrenia got attention. People began to consider their genuine problems and seek treatment instead of shutting down their feelings and struggling daily. The COVID-19 pandemic significantly impacted people's mental health, leading to higher stress and anxiety levels among people.

As a result, there was an increase in mental health problems and diseases such as schizophrenia. In the past, people were reluctant to openly discuss mental health conditions like schizophrenia out of concern for stigma and discrimination.

However, there is now a greater understanding of the value and importance of mental health, and more resources are available to people who need help but are afraid to ask for it.

As the stigma surrounding mental illness decreases with time, more people are open about talking about their problems and have also urged others through social media platforms suffering from the same problems to seek support.

There is no doubt that the pandemic worsened the mental health of so many individuals; however, it also pushed people to talk about it and led to mental health awareness, due to which people are now choosing to take professional help and focusing on self-care.

What Is Schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a challenging disorder in which a person cannot identify what is real and what is not. It is a syndrome that causes mental confusion in the patient, making it difficult for them to perform even the simplest of everyday tasks, such as studying, working, or socializing. A harsh reality makes life seem like an endless war, and patients feel trapped in it.

This condition's symptoms may include hallucinations, delusions, and a variety of unusual experiences that can make the patient feel disconnected from reality. Being able to hear or see things that do not exist is so terrible that it's impossible to imagine what the patients might go through while this is happening to them. It's like being imprisoned in a nightmare and having to live it every day and night.

While not many pieces of research can prove the causes of schizophrenia, one thing is obvious: this disease is not a choice. It is not the case that schizophrenia exclusively affects the lazy or the weak.

Schizophrenia is an illness caused by a combination of genetic, environmental, and neurological factors; nevertheless, medications, therapies, and the support of friends and family can help people cope with their sickness and make their lives easier. Patients who have schizophrenia can conquer their condition, find a way out, and live happily and healthily with the correct care and support.

What Causes Schizophrenia?

As the world changes, mental health disorders receive greater attention. Studies may not have pinpointed the specific direct causes that contribute to the development of schizophrenia. Still, specific research suggests these five key factors have a substantial role in a person's development of this condition.

Here is a list of some of the critical causes of schizophrenia:

Schizophrenia Causes:  Genetics

It is understood that the precise causes of schizophrenia have yet to be determined. However, genetics is the first thing that comes to mind whenever an ailment is mentioned. There have been numerous cases in the past that indicate that a person can inherit certain diseases.

Numerous cases in the past suggest that schizophrenia is among the illnesses that can be inherited not only from the parents but that the chances are ten times higher among first-degree relatives of someone with the disorder compared to the general population.

Thus, genetic factors do contribute to this ailment. Still, they cannot be stated as the only cause of the disorder since environmental factors can be a significant trigger for many people when it comes to mental health. This emphasizes the significance of early detection and intervention for people with a family history of schizophrenia, as early treatment can greatly improve results for those affected.

Schizophrenia Causes: Environmental Factors

Now, environmental influences could appear to be a very minor or obscure factor in someone's development of schizophrenia. Previously, mental health was considered taboo, with no seriousness or attention paid to it. Environmental factors do, however, significantly influence mental health ailments, as has been revealed over the past few years.

Multiple studies have found that environmental factors, particularly substance misuse and prenatal stress, significantly influence the development of schizophrenia. It should go without saying that living under stress can lead to several issues, schizophrenia being one of them. This illness has also been linked to social issues such as urbanization, migration, and social isolation. This became clearer when the world went into lockdown mode during the pandemic, and instances increased due to people having to deal with their hallucinations and delusions alone in isolation.

It is crucial to take environmental variables into account as one of the causes of schizophrenia to prevent, diagnose, and treat this condition, as well as to offer support to individuals who are dealing with it daily.

Schizophrenia Causes: Brain Chemistry

Some people may find the topic of brain chemistry to be very scientific. Nonetheless, it is one of the main factors leading to the onset of schizophrenia. According to research, people with this illness have an unbalanced level of some neurotransmitters in their brains, including glutamate and dopamine. Dopamine affects our mood, while glutamate helps us learn and remember things.

When these chemicals are out of balance, it can cause problems like mood swings, seeing or hearing things that aren't there, and having trouble remembering things. According to assessments, people with schizophrenia exhibit excessive dopamine activity in some brain regions, especially the mesolimbic pathway, which is connected to feelings of pleasure and reward. This hyperactivity has been linked to psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations and delusions.

As a result, when schizophrenia builds, the patient loses control and goes through a lot of mental confusion, which includes being unfocused and uninterested.

Schizophrenia Causes: Brain Structure

Again, some individuals may find this cause to be very technical and scientific. However, in layman's terms, the brain's structure is thought to play a significant role in the development of schizophrenia. Numerous studies have shown that individuals with schizophrenia have structural abnormalities in specific areas of the brain, particularly the prefrontal cortex, hippocampus, and amygdala.

The prefrontal cortex is primarily responsible for decision-making and impulse control. At the same time, the hippocampus is responsible for memory development, and the amygdala is responsible for handling emotions in the human brain. The structural anomalies in these areas contribute to the development of schizophrenia's cognitive, emotional, and behavioral symptoms.

Abnormalities in the prefrontal cortex, for example, could lead to attention and executive function issues. Similarly, abnormalities in the hippocampus may impair memory and learning, whereas abnormalities in the amygdala may affect emotion processing and control.

While the precise methods through which brain structure contributes to skill development are unknown, it is evident that structural abnormalities in the brain are an essential element to examine when diagnosing schizophrenia.

Schizophrenia Causes: Developmental Factors

Certain developmental characteristics are thought to intensify during prenatal difficulties and raise the likelihood of developing schizophrenia later in life. For example, complications during labor or pregnancy-related infections such as fetal hyperoxia have been linked to an increased incidence of this condition. Furthermore, childhood trauma, like physical or sexual abuse, has been associated with an increased chance of developing the disease and may interact with genetic and environmental factors to amplify stress.

Individuals with a genetic predisposition to schizophrenia who experience early childhood trauma, for example, may be at a higher risk of developing the disorder than those with no genetic predisposition.

Although the precise mechanism by which developmental factors contribute to the development of schizophrenia is unknown, one thing is certain: a person's early life experiences can have a big impact on his or her risk of mental health. This is why developmental variables play a vital role in the development of schizophrenia.

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Is Schizophrenia the Same as Multiple Personality Disorder?

No, schizophrenia is not the same as multiple personality disorder (MPD). Schizophrenia is a mental health condition that affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves. It can cause delusions and hallucinations, as well as difficulty in concentrating or forming relationships with others.

MPD, on the other hand, is a dissociative disorder in which a person experiences multiple, distinct identities or personalities. The individual may switch between these personalities, and each personality has its own set of behaviors and emotions. While both schizophrenia and MPD can cause confusion and impaired judgment, they are not the same condition.

Is There a Difference Between Schizophrenia and Psychosis?

Yes, there is a difference between schizophrenia and psychosis. Psychosis is a general term used to describe an altered state of reality or mind in which a person may experience delusions or hallucinations. It can be caused by many different conditions, including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, drug use, depression, and other mental health issues.

Schizophrenia is a severe mental health condition characterized by hallucinations, delusions, and disordered thinking. While both schizophrenia and psychosis can affect a person’s ability to think clearly and have impaired judgment, they are not the same thing.

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Can Stress Cause Schizophrenia?

No, stress does not directly cause schizophrenia. Although stress may trigger symptoms of schizophrenia in people who are predisposed to the condition, it is not a direct cause. Research suggests that there may be a link between stress and schizophrenia, but further studies are needed to understand exactly how they are related.

Co-Occurring Disorders: Substance Abuse & Schizophrenia

Substance abuse and schizophrenia often co-occur, with substance abuse worsening the symptoms and causes of schizophrenia. Substance abuse, whether it's drugs or alcohol, can alter the brain's chemistry and disrupt the normal functioning of the brain. This can increase the risk of developing schizophrenia or worsen the symptoms in those with the disorder.

Individuals with schizophrenia may also self-medicate using drugs or alcohol to alleviate their symptoms, leading to further deterioration in their mental health.

Why Substance Abuse & Schizophrenia Often Occur Together

Substance abuse can also interfere with the effectiveness of schizophrenia medications, making it more challenging to manage the symptoms. Overall, the combination of substance abuse and schizophrenia can be dangerous and challenging, requiring specialized treatment to manage effectively. 

Many people try to deal with this problem by themselves because, at first, they cannot understand what exactly is happening to them. It is natural to question oneself when you see things that do not exist. This experience can leave a person with intense trauma.

Once patients understand that they have this illness detaching them from reality, they are afraid to communicate because they feel they will be judged or shamed for their ailment, and they turn to drugs and alcohol to numb their pain.

Fortunately, times have changed with regard to mental health. If you or a loved one have any symptoms of schizophrenia, it’s critically important you seek treatment for it. Most importantly, do not let substance abuse become your solution. Seek professional help and build a safe and healthy life for yourself.

The Edge Treatment Center Can Help Treat Schizophrenia

Suffering from schizophrenia can be a very challenging experience on its own. However, seeking help and getting out of the darkness is very important instead of staying stuck in it for the rest of your lives. The decision to seek therapy may not be the easiest, but it will be one you will be grateful for the rest of your life.

While there is no proven cure for schizophrenia, there are treatment programs and therapies that can help reduce the difficulties that a patient suffering from schizophrenia confronts. 

The Edge Treatment Center has provided evidence-based treatment and healthy coping mechanisms for many dealing with addiction and mental health disorders like schizophrenia. Guided by a trauma-informed philosophy, our treatment center offers a safe, welcoming environment where real healing can take place.

Left untreated, schizophrenia will shatter lives. Reach out today to The Edge Treatment Center to learn more about schizophrenia and how we can help you or a loved one manage it.

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Written by

brian-mooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

jeremy-arztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

Dual Diagnosis

May 9, 2023