Dopamine and Schizophrenia
If there is one psychiatric disorder that would top the list in becoming a favorite key element for movies, books, and television, that would be nothing else but schizophrenia.
Schizophrenia is one of the most common mental illnesses which affect both males and females. The term is coined from two Greek words meaning “split” and “mind, this referring to the patient splitting from reality and not having multiple personalities which has become a grave misconception about the illness.
Symptoms of this disease may include delusions, hallucinations, disorganized thinking/speech, the absence of normal behavior and catatonia. Delusions are described as having false beliefs like believing that there is a killer on the loose who wants to kill him/her. Hallucinations on the other hand may come in different forms: auditory, visual, olfactory or tactile, that is, sensing things or stimuli which are not there at all.
The absence of normal behavior may come in the form of lack of energy and motivation to do anything to socially withdrawing oneself to the absence of emotion. Catatonia on the other hand is a negative symptom where one becomes stationary in a single position for a very long time.
There have been three main causes of schizophrenia that have been looked into for the past researches: genetics, environment and neurotransmitters. For this article, we will be discussing more on the third issue, neurotransmitters, specifically Dopamine. Dopamine is a chemical substance produced in the body which acts as both a signaling molecule or neurotransmitter and a hormone. As a neurotransmitter, it is directly involved in keeping the body’s motor skills balanced and in the reward system or the feeling of being satisfied.
Many studies have investigated the link between the level of dopamine present and schizophrenia. The “Dopamine theory of schizophrenia” states that schizophrenia is caused by an overactive dopamine system in the brain. Those who develop paranoia or schizophrenia experience a gradual increase of dopamine levels over several years since dopamine levels typically change very slowly. Combating schizophrenia involves medications that block or lower Dopamine in the brain.
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