Pathophysiology: "The functional changes associated with or resulting from disease or injury"

  • The pathophysiology of schizophrenia has long remained a mystery and still today, even with various hypotheses, remains somewhat uncertain: there are too many variants; not enough consistency in findings; and, despite research, a lack of documented proof.
  • The most well-known and respected hypothesis with regards to the pathophysiology of schizophrenia began in the 1990s and consisted primarily of the notion there is a problem with the dopamine levels in the brain of schizophrenics.
  • Dopamine is both a hormone and a neurotransmitter, which means that it activates five different receptors in the brain, aptly named D1, D2, D3, D4, and D5. That said, it may not be the only neurotransmitter involved in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia. Glutamate and Serotonin have also been implicated.
  • Contributing to this hypothesis is the fact that drugs administered to aid dopaminergic activity bring on schizophrenic characteristics such as psychosis, in a patient, whereas drugs administered to block them help reduce, or eliminate symptoms of schizophrenia altogether.
  • Additional studies affecting the pathophysiology of schizophrenia include suggestions that maternal factors such as infection, malnutrician, location of birth, season of birth, and delivery, may play a significant part in the formation and subsequent appearance of schizophrenia. Studies have shown that the worldwide rate of births affected with schizophrenia is up to 8% higher when occurring in spring or winter, though no explanation for this can be offered.
  • Another aspect of the pathophysiology of schizophrenia that has been explored in relative detail is that of genetics, and their relation to the likelihood of immediate relatives being born with the disease. Shockingly, it has been found that 10% of all immediate family members of an infected person will be struck down with the disease. This is specifically in relation to parents, siblings, and children. With regards to twins or other multiple births, the chances they will share the disease is 50%. Genetic reports suggest that it is the X chromosome which determines whether or not a person is infected with schizophrenia, specifically, chromosomes 1, 3, 5, and 11, however further studies are needed in order to prove this theory.
  • Though there are many theories and hypotheses regarding the pathophysiology of schizophrenia, there is, unfortunately, still no cure for the disease. The best a sufferer can hope for nowadays is to benefit from available medication which keeps the disease under control or in remission for the duration of time for which it is taken.