There are contradictory findings regarding the role the pineal gland plays in the onset of schizophrenia. Some scientists have made the correlation between low melatonin—or a faulty pineal gland—and schizophrenia. However, researchers in Italy found no connection between low pineal volume and clinical features of schizophrenia. But this does not rule out a possible link, because scientists don’t know to any degree of certainty what causes the disease; nor are they 100 percent in agreement over what the pineal gland does. They know it affects sleep and circadian rhythm, but to what extent it plays a role in schizophrenia or other mental disorders, no one can say for certain.
Possible causes of schizophrenia
On its website, the National Alliance of Mental Illness lists four possible causes of schizophrenia:
1. Genetics – If one identical twin has schizophrenia, there is a 50 percent likelihood that the other twin will develop the disorder. However, researchers have yet to identify a specific gene that causes schizophrenia.
2. Environment – Individuals exposed to viruses while in the womb or who are born malnourished have a greater chance of developing schizophrenia.
3. Substance abuse – Researchers disagree on how much substance abuse plays in the onset of schizophrenia. However, the rate of comorbidity is higher in people with schizophrenia than in the general public.
4. Neurotransmitters – Researchers have detected anomalies in the brain chemistry of people with schizophrenia. Their brains have trouble processing dopamine and glutamate. Scientists believe these anomalies occur in utero.
Paranoid schizophrenia is a subtype of schizophrenia. It is the most common type of schizophrenia. As the name implies, paranoid schizophrenia creates irrational fears of persecution. For some reason, here in the U.S., invariably the government is behind these harassment campaigns. Many people with paranoid schizophrenia believe their phones are tapped. They believe they are being surveilled, either by cars or helicopters. Individuals with paranoid schizophrenia experience both auditory and visual hallucinations and many symptoms of generalized schizophrenia. However, individuals with paranoid schizophrenia are often prone to aggression. In particular, they display fits of rage and can also can be quarrelsome.
Spotting the signs
Schizophrenia generally affects males in their early 20s and females in their late 20s. Onset is uncommon in children and rare in adults 45 and over. Symptoms of schizophrenia include:
1. Delusions – These manifest as grandiose ideas, with exalted beliefs in one’s own ability or fame. People with schizophrenia often believe there is something physically wrong with them. They can be paranoid, believing the government is spying on them. Four out of five people with schizophrenia suffer from delusions.
2. Hallucinations – Most people with schizophrenia suffer from auditory hallucinations but visual hallucinations do occur. Hearing voices is the most common hallucination.
3. Disorganized thinking, speech and behavior – People with schizophrenia may rhyme similar sounding words—also referred to as clanging—or utter nonsensical statements. They also are prone to excessive agitation, fits of extreme activity, inappropriate behavior or a complete inability to follow instructions.
Teenagers with schizophrenia display many of the same symptoms as adults with schizophrenia. However, often the symptoms are masked behind typical teenage behavior, such as:
- Withdrawal from friends and family
- A drop in performance at school
- Trouble sleeping
- Irritability or depressed mood
Teenagers are less likely to have delusions but more likely to have hallucinations.
People with schizophrenia often have suicidal ideation so it’s important to for parents to talk to their child if they suspect his unusual behavior is more than just teenage angst or rebellion.
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