Research has not yet given any clear evidence behind the cause or causes of schizophrenia. Some evidence indicates that schizophrenia in children is a neurological disorder caused by
• A genetically derived disease
• Any injury occurred during brain development prior to the birth of the child
• Traumatic life events
Genetics playing a role in diseases has been known for long. The probability of occurrence of schizophrenic symptoms increases by 1% in persons who have no family history to 10% in persons with a first-degree relative.
And the risk increases to 50% in the case of an identical twin (APA). Prenatal brain injury may include
• Viral infections like maternal influenza
• Low or no oxygen at the time of birth and
• Untreated blood type incompatibility
Research evidence of schizophrenia in children:
Research has determined that the schizophrenia in children possess the same abnormalities in the brain regarding structural, neuropsychological and physiological features that are found in schizophrenic adults. But the child cases of schizophrenia are severe compared to adults with more prominent neurological abnormalities.
Hence this makes childhood schizophrenia to be worse and a potential disease to be researched better to completely understand it.
A clear example is that children who get schizophrenia before puberty clearly indicate abnormal brain development progressively as they grow as compared to adult schizophrenia.
MRI scans of adolescents affected with schizophrenic symptoms show fluid-filled cavities in their mid-brain, also called ventricles, to be enlarged unusually, especially between the ages of 14-18 in those with early-onset schizophrenia, thus proposing that the brain tissue volume has shrunk more than normal circumstances.
Such children seem to lose four times larger neurons and their extensions and gray matter, present in the frontal lobes than the normal teen loses.
Such a loss swallows up the brain progressively starting from the back to the front in just 5 years. It initially starts in the rear areas, responsible for perception and attention, and extends in due course to the frontal areas involved in organizing, planning and executing functions that are damaged in schizophrenia.
A loss in rear areas depends on many environmental factors. Research indicates that there has been a non-genetic factor contributing to the onset and progression of schizophrenic symptoms.
The loss pattern finally resembles that of adult schizophrenia. Scientists believe that adult schizophrenia may also have had similar changes in their teens that were unnoticed due to the lack of symptoms at that age.
Besides structural studies of brain abnormalities, research is being conducted on a set of measures that are assumed to have some connection with the genetic risk of schizophrenic symptoms.
Research on early-onset cases has proved that there is a link between some genetically complex disorders like Alzheimer’s disease, breast cancer, and Crohn’s disease. There is clear evidence for the rate of genetically complex diseases to increase twice as much in children as compared to adults.
Cross-sectional analysis of schizophrenia:
If you are experiencing any thought and behavior symptoms yourself or observing such changes in someone else who is close to you or your loved one. Or if you are just curious about such illnesses, some fundamental knowledge regarding schizophrenic symptoms will enable you to avoid all the misconceptions and misbelieves about the disorder.
This information will help you a lot in knowing more about the disease.
Schizophrenia has been prevailing for long and is known to be a severe brain disorder affecting nearly 1% of people irrespective of sex worldwide. It has a throughout recorded history in affecting people.
Generally, the initial symptoms of schizophrenia normally begin in the early ’20s or in adolescence in men, but women seem to have a late-onset most probably in their 20’s or 30’s. Schizophrenia is a sporadic illness, referring that the severity of the symptoms will vary unsteadily over time (According to APA, 2020).
It is known that the brain is composed of several neurons, which are ordered systematically into regions of the brain.
The brain cells or neurons are responsible for receiving and sending sensory information like sight, taste, fear and all other emotions and other functions involve organizing, coordinating, and processing the information from all brain parts.
Neurons link all these regions into a complex network. In general, information is passed through neurons by the exchange in chemicals through the tiny gaps known as synapses between the neurons. These chemical messengers are referred to as neurotransmitters.
Most of the researchers believe that schizophrenic symptoms are mainly caused by an imbalance in the neurotransmitter, dopamine.
Dopamine is responsible for transmitting signals involving feelings and thoughts. Even research proposes that schizophrenic people are found to contain high dopamine levels in many regions of their brains.
Hence the drugs that control the dopamine levels in the brain may prove effective in controlling schizophrenia.
Many people mistake schizophrenia to split personality also referred to as multiple personality disorder. Here a person seems to possess multiple identities instead of a single distinct one. This cannot be controlled by any medications and involves talk therapy as the only treatment mode to recombine the separate personalities.
Schizophrenia is totally different from MPD. Conversely, schizophrenia involves the breakdown of the common integration of various brain functions. And the main difference is that schizophrenia can be treated through medications by balancing the chemical imbalances.
Antipsychotic drugs in combination with the support and psychosocial therapies can be the best treatment option for schizophrenia.
It is difficult to diagnose the disorder owing to the single or no symptoms that are specifically associated with schizophrenia. Yet the specific symptoms of schizophrenia are:
• Auditory hallucinations (hearing things not actually present)
• Feelings like being plotted against
• Feelings of other people reading our thoughts
But the investigation is still continuing for better treatment of schizophrenia in children, but till a proper medication is found for schizophrenia, the schizophrenic people are forced to take medications for their entire lives to keep the symptoms under control.
Resource Book: Psychosis in Children and Adolescents