Schizophrenia is a complex mental disorder with relatively few learning considering the advancement of medical science in modern age. However, we have come to a stage where we understand the four main mechanisms surrounding Schizophrenia and we shall look at them in details below.
Dopamine is a type of neurotransmitter, found in humans and animals and is responsible for the activation of different dopamine receptors. There is a prominent level of dopamine in the brain of a person suffering from Schizophrenia. In the past, post mortem analysis of Schizophrenic patients has shown an increase in the dopamine receptor – D2 in the inner region of the forebrain known as the striatum. These increased levels of D2 receptor increase the intensity of signals in the brain and is responsible for the symptoms of hallucination, illusion, paranoia and obsession.
Neurotrophins are proteins which help in the repair, continued existence and development of neurons. They are actually growth factors which are released by a stimulated, active neuron and help neurons in establishing connections with surrounding neurons. As we age, our brain executes a maintenance mechanism according to which neurons are not useful i.e. the ones which do not have connection with surrounding neurons are eliminated through the process of programmed cell death.
The secretion of neurotrophins is essential for the prevention of the cell apoptosis or programmed cell death of its target neuron. In a Schizophrenic patient, neurotrophins are in much reduced amount as a result when the maintenance mechanism of the brain is executed most of the neurons undergo programmed cell death and there is neuronal degeneration. Studies have also demonstrated that a reduction in the computational capability is associated with reduced neutrophin level in the brain. Experimental results have shown a reduction of 5% in the gray matter volume in the cortex region of the brain of Schizophrenic patients.
Glutamate also known as Glutamic acid is a common neurotransmitter found in the brain. A postmortem study of Schizophrenic patient has shown a reduction in the density of glutamate receptor in the brain of the patient. Such an activity of glutamate holds up to the finding of increased levels of dopamine receptors in Schizophrenic patients, because dopamine receptors have an inherent property of restraining glutamate.
Hypoxia is a term used to define a lack of oxygen supply either to one part of the body or to all the parts. The human brain stands apart for its major consumption of oxygen. Studies have elucidated the reason behind the sensitivity of the brain for its level of oxygen. Studies have shown that even though the weight of brain is only 2% of the entire body weight but the amount of oxygen the brain consumes is as much as 20% of the oxygen consumed by the entire human body.
Hypoxia in the brain also known as cerebral ischemia and can be either due to accidental head injury or due to depreciated activity of nerve cells as a result of excessive addictive drug consumption. Under hypoxia there is an entry of excessive amounts of calcium, which is responsible for intracellular excitation waves, into the neurons, these cause severe harms to the neurons and the connections of the neurons and in some cases can result in the death of the neuron.
Schizophrenic patients who are under great stress due to sarcasm, hallucinations, delusions, nebulous thinking, mood swings and experience traumas in their lives are more likely to experience cerebral ischemia and as a result of which there can be an increased level of intracellular excitation. An elevated intracellular excitation leads to destruction of the complex neural circuitry and this hampers the cognitive functions of the brain.
Schizophrenia is a terrible mental disorder that affects 1 percent of the US population. You can learn more about this condition, including schizophrenia test and schizophrenia definition on Clivir – the free learning community.