How does schizophrenia brain differ from a normal brain?
It has been though for over a century that schizophrenia is a disorder of the brain. In 1837, Dr. W.A.F. Browne, an English psychiatrist wrote:
"Insanity, then, is inordinate or irregular, or impaired action of the mind, of the instincts, sentiments, intellectual, or perceptive powers, depending upon and produced by an organic change in the brain."
Dr. Amariah Brigham also wrote in the same year that insanity is now considered a physical disorder, a disease of the brain.
However, these statements were proven after about more than a century. Brain imaging techniques and advancements in neuroscience opened ways to know that schizophrenia is a problem of the brain.
Research in the past two decades has indicated that schizophrenia is caused by a combination of several factors including such as genetics, biological predisposition, pregnancy-related factors, prenatal factors, stress, environmental factors during a person's life and during pregnancy etc.
Research has now shown that children's and teen's brains are very sensitive to stress (up to 5 to 10 times more sensitive than the brains of adult) and can be easily damaged by ongoing stress such as due to family issues or issues in schools or at academics, or problems due to environmental and societal factors etc.
To know more about causes of schizophrenia, read this article: Causes of Schizophrenia
To know more about treatment of schizophrenia, read this article: Treatment of Schizophrenia
Recent studies have given certain important clues about brain with schizophrenia as compared to normal brain. Here are few interesting research findings:
- In a recent study, participants, ranging from 7–32 years of age, were found to have repeated imaging scans with specific patterns over the course of several years.
- Scans from the patients' first episode, in a research by University of Iowa, showed that they had less brain tissue, compared with healthy individuals without schizophrenia.
- People with schizophrenia have smaller-than-average cranial size
- People who suffer with schizophrenia show the highest tissue loss in the first 2 years after their first episode. After this, it slowed down significantly.
Common symptoms found in people with schizophrenia are:
- Being emotionless
- Struggles with basic life activities
- Problems with cognitive abilities
- Disorganized behavior
- Disorganized thinking