Modern Approaches Influencing the Development of the Disorder
Researchers believe that schizophrenia can take its origins in the malfunctioning of certain neurotransmitters. In particular, one should mention glutamate and dopamine (Hirvonen & Hietala, 2011). In this case, one should not speak about the causal relations between the dysfunctions of neurotransmitters and schizophrenia (Hirvonen & Hietala, 2011). Nevertheless, these phenomena are highly correlated with one another. It is hypothesized the symptoms of schizophrenia can be attributed to the increased dopaminergic activities in such brain areas as striatum and thalamus. Furthermore, it is believed that the increased activity of glutamate receptors can lead to the atrophy of the hippocampus. One should also keep in mind that the medications mitigating the effects of schizophrenia block the activities of these neurotransmitters. Nevertheless, scientists have not been able to determine how exactly the functioning of neurotransmitters is related to this mental disorder. Yet, despite this limitation, this hypothesis cannot be rejected.
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Although schizophrenia is not considered to be a hereditary disease, researchers note that the genetic component of this mental disorder should not be disregarded (Durand & Barlow, 2010). In particular, scholars mention the influence of such genes as dysbindin, neuregulin 1, and proline dehydrogenase (Pino et al., 2014, p. 187). It should be mentioned that the onset of schizophrenia is not likely to be caused by a single gene (Pino et al., 2014, p. 187). It is estimated that the heritability of schizophrenia ranges from 70 to 85 percent (Pino et al., 2014, p. 187). However, many people, who have been diagnosed with this mental disorder, do not have any relatives suffering from schizophrenia. Moreover, the exact mechanisms of genetic influences have not been fully described yet. Thus, genetic influences are not sufficient for explaining the origins of this mental disorder. More likely, it can be explained by a combination of factors.
It is also important to consider the environmental factors that may contribute to the increased risk of schizophrenia. In particular, one should speak about the diathesis-stress model that is supposed to explain the origins of schizophrenia. According to this approach, the onset of this disorder can be triggered by some external stressors. This argument is particularly relevant if one speaks about individuals who have some genetic predisposition to schizophrenia. For instance, one can mention the influence of such stressors as abuse, bereavement, exposure to violence, and so forth. In turn, these events result in an increased level of cortisol, and these physiological changes lead to the onset of this disease (Jones & Fernyhough, 2007, p. 1171).
This model is partly confirmed by the empirical findings indicating that higher levels of cortisol usually intensify the effects of this mental disorder. Again, this theory does not illustrate the causal relations between stressors and the onset of schizophrenia. More likely, one should speak about the existence of correlation. Apart from that, this model does not identify the criteria according to which one can distinguish vulnerable and non-vulnerable individuals. Moreover, this model is not the only approach to the environmental causes of schizophrenia. For instance, the injuries sustained by the mother during pregnancy can increase the risk of this disease.
Furthermore, researchers examine the impact of cultural and social factors on the development of schizophrenia. This approach can be valid, provided that one accepts the premises of the diathesis-stress model. In some cultures, a person is not encouraged to discuss his/her emotional problems with other people. Furthermore, the open reaction to stressors can be viewed as a sign of weakness. As a result, the effects of stress can aggravate significantly, and they can increase this risk of this disorder. Additionally, the urban environment includes more stressors, and it can pose more threats to an individual.
Apart from that, researchers note that a patient is more likely to recover from schizophrenia, provided that this individual feels confident in his/her ability to take part in community activities and social life. This person should feel the support of other people, especially relatives and friends. In contrast, the lack of this support only marginalizes this individual, and the effects of schizophrenia can only aggravate (Myers, 2010). The socio-cultural approach attracts more attention from researchers because empirical findings suggest that the rates of schizophrenia are lower in developing countries, especially in comparison with advanced economies (Myers, 2010). This is one of the paradoxes that many perplex scholars who cannot explain why some countries have fewer resources for helping patients prove to be more effective in treating schizophrenia.
Moreover, it is vital to consider the psychological aspects of this disorder. Much attention should be paid to the way in which a person responds to negative stimuli or stressors. A person with low self-esteem is more vulnerable to the negative effects of this disorder. This individual can be unwilling to establish or continue social relations. Therefore, it is important to consider the worldviews and self-perception of a patient. The psychological approach can be related to the socio-cultural model because, in many cases, the individual experiences of the patient can be determined by his/her relations with community members. In some cases, the relatives of a person can strengthen his/her self-esteem. Moreover, a person should be able to recognize possible problems in his/her behavior. Sometimes, patients do not want to admit that they have certain emotional or behavioral problems. Thus, the psychological aspects of this problem should not be disregarded. Overall, the advantages and disadvantages of various models prompted some researchers to reconcile different models (Pino et al., 2014).
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Overview of the Patient’s Behavior
The second part of the paper is also aimed at describing a patient struggling with the effects of schizophrenia. This individual is a nineteen-year-old male. Before the onset of this disorder, he became more reticent and withdrawn. To a great extent, he began to attach less and less importance to the relationship with his friends. Later, he began convinced that he had been continuously followed by some strangers. In his opinion, they tried to spy on him. Overall, it is possible to consider the socio-cultural approach that can be useful for describing the way in which he overcame the symptoms of this disorder.
His parents quickly noticed the abnormalities of his behavior, and they encouraged him to seek medical assistance. Overall, the support of these people has been critical for minimizing the symptoms of this disorder. It is also vital to consider the psychological aspects of this problem. One should examine the patient’s self-perception of his mental health. In the beginning, he tried to deny any problems. It is important to mention that the refusal to recognize the symptoms of a mental disorder is also very dangerous because a person may reach the point when medical assistance can practically useless. These are the main details that should be considered.
Durand, V., & Barlow, D. (2010). Essentials of Abnormal Psychology. New York, NY: Cengage Learning.
Hirvonen, J., & Hietala, J. (2011). Dysfunctional Brain Networks and Genetic Risk for Schizophrenia: Specific Neurotransmitter Systems. CNS Neuroscience & Therapeutics, 17(8), 89-96.
Jones, S., & Fernyhough, C. (2007) A New Look at the Neural Diathesis–Stress Model of Schizophrenia: The Primacy of Social-Evaluative and Uncontrollable Situations. Schizophrenia Bulletin, 33(5), 1171-1177.
Myers, N. (2010). Culture, Stress and Recovery from Schizophrenia: Lessons from the Field for Global Mental Health. Culture, Medicine and Psychiatryry 34(20), 500-528.
Pino, O., Guilera, G., Gomez-Benito, J., Najas-Garcia, A., Rufian, S., & Rojo, E. (2014). Neurodevelopment or neurodegeneration: review of theories of schizophrenia. Actas Españolas de Psiquiatría, 42(4), 185-195.