Schizophrenia is a serious mental disorder which results in certain characteristics, certain abnormal behaviors, as well as experiences. Schizophrenia can manifest itself as different clusters of symptoms amongst different people. While some scientists attribute these differences to different processes, other scientists believe that schizophrenia is a single disorder that gives rise to different symptoms depending on the brain region it affects.
The symptoms of schizophrenia are divided into 2 different categories â€“ positive symptoms and negative symptoms.
Positive symptoms are the problematic symptoms which should not be present under normal circumstances, but are present in people suffering from schizophrenia. These symptoms include hallucinations, delusions and disorganized speech.
Negative symptoms, on the other hand, are characteristics which should be present under normal circumstances, but appear to be diminished or completely absent in a person suffering from schizophrenia. These symptoms include diminished emotional expressions and scarcity of initiation when it comes to activities that are goal-directed.
The causes of schizophrenia are complex. Scientists have not identified the absolute cause of schizophrenia, but it has been generally agreed upon that schizophrenia many factors play a contributory role in the development of schizophrenia. These factors include genetics, brain and other body risk factors, environmental factors, societal factors, and lifestyle factors.
Heritability of Schizophrenia
When we speak about the heritability of schizophrenia, we are talking about the genetic component of schizophrenia. While there is a genetic component in most of the psychiatric disorders, it tends to more drastic for certain disorders like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and autism, for example.
Schizophrenia is highly heritable, with the heritability estimated to be approximately 80% generally, but it has been found to vary between 41% and 87%. Therefore, it would be fair to say that there is a very strong genetic component present here. Most scientists agree that genes alone do not tell the whole story, however, they do play a major role in making the person highly vulnerable to the disorder. Therefore, genes are the strongest risk factors when it comes to the development of schizophrenia.
Evidence has been found which overwhelmingly points towards a genetic predisposition to schizophrenia. While the prevalence of the disorder is less than 1% in the general population, it has been established that being related to someone with the disorder greatly increases that risk.
Family studies & twin studies have led to the following findings:
If one parent or a sibling suffers from schizophrenia, the risk of an individual developing the disorder increases by 10%.
If only one parent suffers from schizophrenia, then the risk of an individual developing the disorder increases by 13%.
If one identical twin suffers from schizophrenia, then the risk of the other twin developing the disorder increases by a whopping 50%, whereas with fraternal twins, this risk is somewhere around 17%.
If both of the parents are suffering from schizophrenia, then the risk of an individual developing the disorder increases by 40%.
It has been established that the above mentioned findings can be traced down to genetics and not other environmental factors as the rates tend to remain the same regardless of whether the person is or has been raised with their birth family or not.
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