Scientific research articles on schizophrenia symptoms

Have you lost your mind, too? Until recently, virtually all experts agreed that schizophrenia is always, or almost always, marked by a steady downhill progression.

Schizophrenia may be similar to immune disorders, show scientists

But is this bleak forecast warranted? Certainly schizophrenia is a severe condition. Its victims, who make up about 1 percent of the population, experience a loss of contact with reality that puts them at a heightened risk of suicide, unemployment, relationship problems, physical ailments and even early death.

Those who abuse substances are also at risk for committing violent acts against others. Contrary to popular belief, people with schizophrenia do not have multiple personalities, nor are they all essentially alike—or victims of poor parenting.

Nevertheless, research has shown that with proper treatment, many people with schizophrenia can experience significant, albeit rarely complete, recovery from their illness.

Many can, for example, live relatively normal lives outside a hospital, holding down a job and socializing periodically with family and friends.

In another doctor, A. An attitude of gloom pervaded the field of schizophrenia research for decades, with many scholars insisting that improvement was exceedingly rare, if not unheard of. Yet experts have lately come to understand that the prognosis for patients with schizophrenia is not uniformly dire.

Careful studies tracking patients over time—most of whom receive at least some treatment—suggest that about 20 to 30 percent of people recover substantially over years or decades. Although mild symptoms such as social withdrawal or confused thinking may persist, these individuals can hold down jobs and function independently without being institutionalized. In one study published in psychologist Martin Harrow of the University of Illinois College of Medicine and his colleagues followed patients over 15 years and found that about 40 percent experienced at least periods of considerable recovery, as measured by the absence of significant symptoms as well as the capacity to work, engage in social activities and live outside a hospital for a year or more.

Although most patients do not go into long remissions and may even decline over time, some 20 to 30 percent of this majority experience only moderate symptoms that interfere with—but do not devastate—their ability to perform in the workplace or maintain friendships. Improved Treatments Contributing to this less fatalistic view of schizophrenia are the effective treatments that have become available over the past two decades.

Such atypical antipsychotic medications as Clozaril clozapineRisperdal risperidone and Zyprexa olanzapinemost of which were introduced in the s, appear to ameliorate schizophrenia symptoms by affecting the function of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin, which relay chemical messages between neurons. In addition, certain psychological interventions developed over the past few decades can often attenuate symptoms such as delusions and hallucinations.

For example, cognitive-behavior therapy aims to remedy the paranoid ideas or other maladaptive thinking associated with the disorder by helping patients challenge these beliefs.

Family therapies focus on educating family members about the disorder and on reducing the criticism and hostility they direct toward patients.

scientific research articles on schizophrenia symptoms

Though not panaceas by any means, these and several other remedies have helped many patients with schizophrenia to delay relapse and, in some cases, operate more effectively in everyday life. Who is most likely to improve?

Researchers have linked a number of factors to better outcomes in patients.Nancy C. Andreasen, M. The specific symptoms that have been felt to characterize schizophrenia have varied widely over time and across cultures, as has the diagnostic and prognostic importance placed on these symptoms. Through the existing literatures as well as through previously unpublished data sets, the dimensions of reliability, specificity, validity, and descriptive value of the various signs and symptoms used to classify schizophrenia are explored.

Schizophrenia study finds evidence of reduced links between brain cells

In addition, the structure of the DSM-III-R definition of schizophrenia with that of the proposed revisions of the International Classification of Diseases ICD are contrasted, demonstrating several potentially meaningful differences, It is concluded that a comprehensive description of the signs and symptoms of schizophrenia should place a strong emphasis on both positive and negative symptoms. Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford.

scientific research articles on schizophrenia symptoms

It furthers the University's objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide. Sign In or Create an Account. Sign In. Advanced Search. Search Menu. Skip Nav Destination Article Navigation. Close mobile search navigation Article Navigation. Volume Article Contents Abstract. Article Navigation. Reprint requests should be sent to Dr. Andreasen, Dept. Oxford Academic. Google Scholar. Michael Flaum, M. Cite Cite Nancy C.

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Select Format Select format. Permissions Icon Permissions. Abstract The specific symptoms that have been felt to characterize schizophrenia have varied widely over time and across cultures, as has the diagnostic and prognostic importance placed on these symptoms.

Issue Section:. Download all slides.In a first of its kind study, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have identified two distinct subtypes of schizophrenia after analyzing the brain scans of more than patients.

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The first type of schizophrenia shows lower widespread volumes of gray matter when compared to healthy controls, while the second type has volumes largely similar to normal brains. These differences could lead to more personalized treatment options in the future. Schizophrenia is a highly debilitating and poorly understood mental disorder that typically presents with hallucinations, delusions, and other cognitive issues, though symptoms and responses to treatment vary widely from patient to patient.

Until now, attempts to study the disease, by comparing healthy to diseased brains, have not taken these differences into account, which Davatzikos says has muddled research findings and undermined clinical care. To better distinguish the brain differences within the schizophrenia patient population, Davatzikos established a research group in the United States, China, and Germany. The international group of study participants included schizophrenia patients and healthy controls, all of whom were years-old or younger.

Overall, the researchers found that schizophrenia patients nearly 40 percent did not have the typical pattern of reduced gray matter volume that has been historically linked to the disorder. In fact, they showed volume increases in the middle of the brain, in an area called the striatum, which plays a role in voluntary movement.

When controlling for differences in medication, age, and other demographics, the researchers could not find any clear explanation for the variation.

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There are a variety of antipsychotic medications available to manage the symptoms of schizophrenia, but how they will affect a particular patient — both positively or negatively — is often a shot in the dark, according to study co-senior author Daniel Wolf, M. As to why an entire subset of schizophrenia patients have brains that resemble healthy people, Davatzikos is not willing to speculate.

What we do know is that studies that are putting all schizophrenia patients in one group, when seeking associations with response to treatment or clinical measures, might not be using the best approach. Future research, he said, will provide a more detailed picture of these subtypes in relation to other aspects of brain structure and function, clinical symptoms, disease progression and etiology.

Source: University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Traci Pedersen is a professional writer with over a decade of experience. Her work consists of writing for both print and online publishers in a variety of genres including science chapter books, college and career articles, and elementary school curriculum. Psych Central. All rights reserved. Find help or get online counseling now. Hot Topics Today 1.Schizophrenia is a serious mental illness that affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves.

People with schizophrenia may seem like they have lost touch with reality, which causes significant distress for the individual, their family members, and friends. If left untreated, the symptoms of schizophrenia can be persistent and disabling. However, effective treatments are available.

When delivered in a timely, coordinated, and sustained manner, treatment can help affected individuals to engage in school or work, achieve independence, and enjoy personal relationships. Schizophrenia is typically diagnosed in the late teen years to the early thirties and tends to emerge earlier in males late adolescence — early twenties than females early twenties — early thirties.

A diagnosis of schizophrenia often follows the first episode of psychosiswhen individuals first display symptoms of schizophrenia.


Gradual changes in thinking, mood, and social functioning often begin before the first episode of psychosis, usually starting in mid-adolescence. Schizophrenia can occur in younger children, but it is rare for it to occur before late adolescence. Psychotic symptoms include altered perceptions e. People with psychotic symptoms may lose a shared sense of reality and experience themselves and the world in a distorted way.

Specifically, individuals typically experience:. Negative symptoms include loss of motivation, disinterest or lack of enjoyment in daily activities, social withdrawal, difficulty showing emotions, and difficulty functioning normally. Specifically, individuals typically have:. Cognitive symptoms include problems in attention, concentration, and memory.

For some individuals, the cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia are subtle, but for others, they are more prominent and interfere with activities like following conversations, learning new things, or remembering appointments. Genetics: Schizophrenia sometimes runs in families.

However, it is important to know that just because someone in a family has schizophrenia, it does not mean that other members of the family will have it as well. Genetic studies strongly suggest that many different genes increase the risk of developing schizophrenia, but that no single gene causes the disorder by itself.

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It is not yet possible to use genetic information to predict who will develop schizophrenia. Environmental factors that may be involved include living in poverty, stressful surroundings, and exposure to viruses or nutritional problems before birth. Brain structure and function: Scientists think that differences in brain structure, function, and interactions among chemical messengers called neurotransmitters may contribute to the development of schizophrenia.

For example, differences in the volumes of specific components of the brain, in the way regions of the brain are connected and work together, and in neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, are found in people with schizophrenia. Differences in brain connections and brain circuits seen in people with schizophrenia may begin developing before birth. Changes to the brain that occur during puberty may trigger psychotic episodes in people who are vulnerable due to genetics, environmental exposures, or the types of brain differences mentioned above.

The causes of schizophrenia are complex and are not fully understood, so current treatments focus on managing symptoms and solving problems related to day to day functioning.

Treatments include:. Antipsychotic medications can help reduce the intensity and frequency of psychotic symptoms. They are usually taken daily in pill or liquid forms. Some antipsychotic medications are given as injections once or twice a month, which some individuals find to be more convenient than daily oral doses.

Patients whose symptoms do not improve with standard antipsychotic medication typically receive clozapine. Many people taking antipsychotic medications have side effects such as weight gain, dry mouth, restlessness, and drowsiness when they start taking these medications. Some of these side effects subside over time, but others may persist, which may cause some people to consider stopping their antipsychotic medication.

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Suddenly stopping medication can be dangerous and it can make schizophrenia symptoms worse. People should not stop taking antipsychotic medication without talking to a health care provider first. Shared decision making between doctors and patients is the recommended strategy for determining the best type of medication or medication combination and the right dose.

Brain Scan Study Finds More Than One Kind of Schizophrenia

You can find the latest information on warnings, patient medication guides, or newly approved medications on the U. Cognitive behavioral therapy, behavioral skills training, supported employment, and cognitive remediation interventions may help address the negative and cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia. A combination of these therapies and antipsychotic medication is common.A groundbreaking brain-scanning technique has uncovered evidence that suggests schizophrenia is linked to a loss of connections between brain cells.

Scientists had previously suspected a breakdown in the connections between neurons played a role in the condition, based on postmortem studies. The latest research, the first to find evidence for this in the brains of living people, could pave the way for new and better treatment.

Howes believes the loss of connections, known as synapses, between brain cells, could be responsible for this broader array of symptoms. The study, published in Nature Communicationsfocused on measuring a protein found in synapses called SV2A, which has been shown to be a good marker of the overall density of connections in the brain.

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They used a tracer that binds to the protein and which emits a signal that can be picked up by a PET brain scan, which provided an indirect measure of the density of connections.

The team scanned 18 adults with schizophrenia and compared them with 18 people without the condition. They found that levels of SV2A were significantly lower in the front of the brain — the region involved in planning — in people with schizophrenia. The researchers have also found preliminary evidence that the level of the protein is linked to cognitive performance in people with schizophrenia. Howes and colleagues are also running a clinical trialwhich is expected to be completed next year, that aims to prevent the loss of brain connections in patients.

This article is more than 10 months old. Pioneering research on living patients could pave way for new and better treatment. The loss of connections between brain cells could be responsible for an array of symptoms in people with schizophrenia.

Hannah Devlin Science correspondent. Tue 14 Jan December 14, A study by clinical scientists at the University of Manchester has shown that schizophrenia may—in some part—be caused by disordered functioning of the immune system. The first ever trial in schizophrenia of the powerful immune suppressant drug, Methotrexate, produced what the team described as 'promising' effects on what are known as positive symptoms, such as hearing voices.

Though the team stress the sample size was too small to show if Methotrexate could work as an add-on treatment for schizophrenia, they found a 'puzzling' therapeutic effect on symptoms of early schizophrenia.

scientific research articles on schizophrenia symptoms

The findings published in the Journal of Translational Psychiatry shed new light on the devastating and difficult to treat condition, which causes distress and disability worldwide. Schizophrenia is categorized by so called 'positive symptoms' such as hearing voices hallucinations and 'negative symptoms' disordered thinking, poor motivation, poor social function.

Negative symptoms, which contribute significantly to the disability associated with schizophrenia are hard to treat with currently available medication. The lack of available treatments for these symptoms encouraged Professor Chaudhry's team to investigate new treatment options for schizophrenia.

Methotrexate is often used to treat inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn's disease. Inflammatory and autoimmune conditions are more common in patients with schizophrenia, possibly indicating that there is a shared underlying cause to these diseases.

They used a low 10mg dose of the drug, which was given alongside the patients' routine psychiatric medication. No significant side-effects were reported by the patients taking Methotrexate, suggesting it was relatively well tolerated.

Nusrat Husain, Professor of Psychiatry and Director of Research in Global Mental Health at The University of Manchester added: "We used the lowest clinically effective dose in autoimmune disorders which often needs to be increased so higher doses could produce a more powerful effect in schizophrenia.

Psychiatrist Dr. Omair Husain, who is an honorary researcher at The University of Manchester and an Assistant Professor based at The University of Toronto said: "Immune systems could be involved in schizophrenia and that raises fascinating questions. Your feedback will go directly to Science X editors. Thank you for taking your time to send in your valued opinion to Science X editors. You can be assured our editors closely monitor every feedback sent and will take appropriate actions.

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Explore further. More information: I. Chaudhry et al. A randomized clinical trial of methotrexate points to possible efficacy and adaptive immune dysfunction in psychosis, Translational Psychiatry DOI: Provided by University of Manchester.

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