Roxanne Dryden-Edwards, MD
Dr. Roxanne Dryden-Edwards is an adult, child, and adolescent psychiatrist. She is a former Chair of the Committee on Developmental Disabilities for the American Psychiatric Association, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, and Medical Director of the National Center for Children and Families in Bethesda, Maryland.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
In this Article
- Schizophrenia facts
- What is the definition of schizophrenia?
- How common is schizophrenia in children?
- What is the history of schizophrenia?
- What are schizophrenia causes? Is schizophrenia hereditary?
- What are schizophrenia symptoms and signs?
- What professionals diagnose and treat schizophrenia? Are there particular tests that assess schizophrenia?
- What are treatments for schizophrenia and the side effects of those treatments?
- What are potential complications of schizophrenia? What is the prognosis for schizophrenia?
- Is it possible to prevent schizophrenia?
- What research is being done on schizophrenia?
- Where can people get more information about schizophrenia? How can people find a support group, specialists who treat the illness, or other assistance for schizophrenia?
- Schizophrenia FAQs
- Find a local Psychiatrist in your town
How common is schizophrenia in children?
Although there have been fewer studies on schizophrenia in children compared to adults, researchers are finding that children as young as 6 years of age can be found to have all the symptoms of their adult counterparts and to continue to have those symptoms into adulthood.
What is the history of schizophrenia?
Though the word schizophrenia has only been in use since 1911. It was deemed a separate mental illness in 1887 by Emil Kraepelin. Despite that relatively recent history, it has been described throughout written history. Ancient Egyptian, Hindu, Chinese, Greek, and Roman writings described symptoms similar to the positive symptoms of schizophrenia. During medieval times, schizophrenia, like other illnesses, was often viewed as evidence of the sufferer being possessed by spirits or having evil powers.
A number of accomplished individuals suffer from schizophrenia. The film A Beautiful Mind describes the life of John Nash, a noted scientist, and his struggles with what was previously called paranoid schizophrenia. The film The Soloist explores the challenges faced by Juilliard-trained musician Nathaniel Ayers as a result of schizophrenia. Despite those prominent portrayals of people with schizophrenia, this condition, like most mental illnesses, usually remains shrouded in secrecy and shame.
What are schizophrenia causes? Is schizophrenia hereditary?
One frequently asked question about schizophrenia is if it is hereditary. As with most other mental disorders, schizophrenia is not directly passed from one generation to another genetically, and there is no single specific cause for this illness. Rather, it is the result of a complex group of genetic and other biological vulnerabilities, as well as psychological and environmental risk factors. Biologically, it is thought that people who have abnormalities in the brain neurochemical dopamine and lower brain matter in some areas of the brain are at higher risk for developing the condition. Other brain issues that are thought to predispose people to developing schizophrenia include abnormalities in the connections between different areas of the brain, called default mode network connectivity. Recent research is emerging that implicates potential abnormalities in the transmission of the brain neurochemical glutamate as a risk factor for having schizophrenia.
Schizophrenia is thought to have a significant but not solely genetic component. Genetically, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder have much in common, in that the two disorders share a number of the same risk genes. However, the fact is that both illnesses also have some genetic factors that are unique. There are some genetic commonalities with schizophrenia and epilepsy, as well.
Environmentally, the risks of developing schizophrenia can even occur before birth. For example, the risk of schizophrenia is increased in individuals whose father is of advanced age or whose mother was malnourished or had one of certain infections during pregnancy. Difficult life circumstances during childhood, like the early loss of a parent, parental poverty, bullying, witnessing domestic violence; being the victim of emotional, sexual, or physical abuse or of physical or emotional neglect; and insecure attachment have been associated with increased risks of developing this illness. Using drugs, particularly marijuana (cannabis), amphetamines, and hallucinogens, has been found to increase the risk of developing schizophrenia. Factors like recent migration, being discriminated against, and how well represented an ethnic group is in a neighborhood can also be a risk or protective factor for developing schizophrenia. For example, some research indicates that ethnic minorities may be more at risk for developing this disorder if there are fewer members of the ethnic group to which the individual belongs in their neighborhood.
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