Schizophrenia has a strong hereditary component. Individuals with a first-degree relative (parent or siblng) who has schizophrenia have 10 percent chance of developing the disorder, as opposed to the 1 percent chance of general population. But schizophrenia is only influenced by genetics, not determined by it. While schizophrenia runs in families, about 60% of schizophrenics have no family members with the disorder. Furthermore, individuals who are genetically predisposed to schizophrenia don’t always develop the disease, which shows that biology is not destiny.
Twin and adoption studies suggest that inherited genes make a person vulnerable to schizophrenia and then environmental factors act this vulnerability to trigger the disorder. As for the environmental factors involved, more and more research is pointing to stress, either during pregnancy or at a later stage of development. High levels of stress are believed to trigger schizophrenia by increasing the body ‘s production of the hormone cortisol. Research points to several stress-inducing environmental factors that may be involved in schizophrenia, including:
* Prenatal exposure to a viral infection
* Low oxygen levels during birth (from prolonged labor or premature birth)
* Exposure to a virus during infancy
* Early parental loss or separation
* Physical or sexual abuse in childhood
#Abnormal Brain Structures
In addition to abnormal brain chemistry, abnormalities in brain structure may also play a role in schizophrenia. Enlarged brain ventricles are seen in some schizophrenics, indicating a deficit in the volume of brain tissue. There is also evidence of abnormally low activity in the frontal lobe, the area of the brain responsible for planning, reasoning, and decision-making.
Some studies also suggest that abnormalities in the temporal lobes, hippocampus, and amygdala are connected to schizophrenia’s positive symptoms. But despite the evidence of brain abnormalities, it is highly unlikely that schizophrenia is the result of any one problem in any one region of the brain.