Essentially, schizophrenia is one of the most mysterious and complex diseases in many ways. Schizophrenia refers to a severe mental illness widespread and well-known in medical practice (Kalat, 2015). According to Zhang (2020), the mental disorder often causes “obstacles in thinking, emotion, perception, behavior, and personality” (Zhang, 2020, p. 320). McCutcheon et al. (2019) argue that schizophrenia is a syndrome divided into several groups and subclasses of symptoms. Symptoms of motivation anhedonia usually appear together, while signs of affective flattening and poverty of expression are often diagnosed in the same group.
Correll and Schooler (2020) suggest the prominent schizophrenia elements relate to alogia, avolition, anhedonia, asociality, and blunted affect. For instance, alogia refers to a patient’s reduced speaking ability, avolition to a decreased interest in life and decreased motivation to do something useful, and anhedonia to reduced pleasure perception. Schizophrenia illustrates inconsistency between emotions and the thinking process (Kalat, 2015). Thus, the disease can manifest in hallucinations, delusions, paranoia, and difficulty organizing thoughts and performing basic daily tasks.
Kalat (2015) divides schizophrenia symptoms into positive, negative, and cognitive. Positive symptoms are associated with present behaviors that should be absent, for instance, delusions and hallucinations. Negative symptoms are more challenging to treat; they include absent emotion and socialization. Lastly, thought and reasoning issues are cognitive symptoms.
Most often, people with schizophrenia also have a shorter life expectancy than healthy people (McCutheon et al., 2019). It is essential to add that there is a risk of suicide in schizophrenia. Essentially, the disease is correlated with several psychiatric, behavioral, and psychiatric phenotypes genetically. Hence, schizophrenia may be associated with metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular and autoimmune disorders (Ripke et al., 2020). The paper will further discuss physiological causes, bidirectional effects, treatment, and integration of biopsychological research pitfalls with Christian principles.
Physiological Underpinnings and Causes
The causes of the onset and development of schizophrenia are different and depend on many factors. Zhang (2020) highlights four crucial causes of schizophrenia: genetic factors, previous drug usage, pregnancy or birth complication, and social factors. Firstly, genetic factors play an essential role in schizophrenia prevalence. For instance, if a patient has a family history of schizophrenia, future generations have a significant probability of schizophrenia. Essentially, 80% of schizophrenia cases are caused by genetic issues. For instance, people with relatives who have a mental health condition are usually diagnosed with schizophrenia or shared mutations.
Secondly, the consumption of drugs, such as heroin and hashish, may stimulate schizophrenia development. Drug usage is a risk factor, especially if a person is taking drugs for an extended period. Additionally, the patient’s usage of cannabis in childhood or adolescence may cause a mental disorder. Zhang (2020, p. 321) states, “most of the drug addicts will have schizophrenia symptoms,” namely mental activity difficulties. Thus, it is crucial to provide sufficient treatment in time because the symptoms due to drug usage may worsen.
Thirdly, Zhang (2020) mentions that pregnancy or birth complications can lead to this severe mental illness. McCutcheon et al. (2019) demonstrate that the first signs of the disease usually appear in early adulthood. However, there is medical evidence that pathogenesis is possible at an early stage of nervous system development. Consequently, a person can develop schizophrenia while still in the womb. Most often, schizophrenia development occurs due to dieting or starvation during pregnancy, various maternal infections, and obstetric complications such as preeclampsia and premature birth. In addition, skin markers of altered ectodermal development and mild cognitive and motor impairments in childhood also illustrate early neurodevelopmental impairments.
Finally, the social factor can influence the development of schizophrenia. Consequently, problems and difficulties in life, financial issues, social stress, any form of abuse, and environmental or cultural differences may lead to biological disturbances and cause the illness (Zhang, 2020). Due to various reasons, it is vital to consider the patient’s personal history to select the correct approach and monitor the disease.
Bidirectional Effects of Schizophrenia
Important to add that schizophrenia may possess bidirectional effects on psychological, emotional, and cognitive functioning. Vafadari (2021) assumes that patients that have been exposed to environmental factors, namely stress or models with dysregulations in the gut-brain axis, show the symptoms of schizophrenia. Significantly, gut microbiome dysregulation and stress can rarely influence illness development. However, “bidirectional effects of stress together with the gut microbiome” may cause schizophrenia (Vafadari, 2021, p. 13). Bondesson et al. (2018) reveal a bidirectional effect of pain and mental illness on each other. Hence, there is a possibility of schizophrenia development in patients with pain, for instance, abdominal or back pain.
Treatment of schizophrenia remains an important issue in medicine. A risk gene, called TENM4, is typical for schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, and bipolar disorder (Yi et al., 2021). Yi et al. (2021) hypothesize that TENM4 causes schizophrenia and affects clinical symptoms’ development related to unexpected behavior, memory declines, sleep disorders, and mental disability. Zhang (2020) claims that schizophrenia treatments include medical treatment, self-help, and supportive therapies. All modern and licensed pharmacological treatments for schizophrenia are dopamine D-2 receptor blockers; therefore, D2 blockage can alleviate the disease by releasing striatal dopamine (McCutcheon et al., 2019).
McCutcheon et al. (2019, p. 7) suggest that “modulation of N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor function or α7 nicotinic receptor signaling could be beneficial in the treatment of negative and cognitive symptoms”; however, there is a lack of replicated evidence. Ripke et al. (2020) state that treatment for schizophrenia is adequate for most patients, but some people may experience chronic symptoms, treatment of which can lead to side effects. Therefore, there is a necessity for new therapeutic measures, but a limited understanding of pathophysiology slows down this process.
Zhang (2020) illustrates that psychiatric drugs or tranquilizers are prescribed as a treatment to control schizophrenia. Nevertheless, in some cases, drugs cause side effects. Patients with severe symptoms, namely hallucinations, delusions, and self-injury, are recommended to take tranquilizers to cope with these mental symptoms. Zhang (2020) argues that schizophrenia can be controlled and monitored. Usually, people with schizophrenia can show violence; they are lonely, sensitive, and separated from reality. The patients cannot control emotions, interact socially, and work properly (Zhang, 2020). Thus, early treatment and diagnosis can significantly improve patients’ prognoses. To conclude, the genetic factor is the most prominent cause of schizophrenia.
Integration of biopsychological research pitfalls with Christian principles
Mentions of schizophrenia are rooted in ancient writings and the Bible. For instance, the schizophrenia description appears as a demonstration of Gerasene Demoniac in Mark V, who would “howl all day in the tombs and the mountains and gash himself with stones” (Angane, 2017, p. 133). Amunga (2019) acknowledges that in the Bible, sins are the leading causes of schizophrenia. For instance, “Deuteronomy 28:27-29 says that the Lord will smite you with madness, blindness, and bewilderment of heart,” and “Thessalonians 2:11 demonstrates that God will send upon them a deluding influence (delusion) so that they would believe what is false” (Amunga, 2019, p. 2).
Anagane (2017) indicates that people back then did not perceive schizophrenia as a mental illness; moreover, it was associated with madness, demonic possession, or God’s punishment. Consequently, the illness understanding has shifted from demonic possessions to dopamine, from exorcisms to medical treatments.
Lloyd (2021) emphasizes that religious beliefs may even stop patients with schizophrenia from seeking medical treatment. In addition, it is acceptable to socially exclude or even discriminate against people with mental sickness in some religious groups. According to Lloyd (2021), Christian self-help literature illustrates schizophrenia and depression as demonic influences. Some Christian groups still perceive mental illnesses strictly through “a spiritual aetiological framework,” which may lead to stigmatization and refusing medical help (Lloyd, 2021, p. 2). Therefore, people are afraid to ask for help, and this fear may lead to a negative impact on their mental health.
Questions still arise in studying various forms of mental illness; new treatment methods and improvement of diagnostic procedures are required. Schizophrenia is recognized as one of the most significant severe mental illnesses. Interestingly, the illness has been described in the Bible as demonic influence and divine punishment. Then people perceived the disease as a punishment for their sins, but with the development of science, schizophrenia began to be called a mental illness and treated appropriately. To conclude, pathological processes affect thinking, perception, and emotion. In addition to this symptomatology, various delusional ideas, violence, inappropriate emotional reactions, and hallucinatory phenomena are observed. People can no longer adequately perceive reality and have pathological behavioral features that do not allow them to live everyday life. It is essential to mention that schizophrenia can have bi-directional effects. Some patients suffering from stress, severe pain, and intestinal and stomach upset, combined with certain social factors, can develop schizophrenia. The TENM4 gene is familiar to many mental illnesses and is the most potent risk factor in developing the disease.
Moreover, there are several reasons for illness development. However, there is a clear dependence at the genetic level when people whose relatives have already encountered this problem and some other mental illnesses, including suicidal tendencies, psychosis, or depression, are exposed to the disease. Also, schizophrenia can develop in a child in the womb in the presence of a stressful situation or health problems that can catalyze the manifestation of the disease. Other reasons are drug addiction and social factors. Although the disease is chronic, it often diminishes over time. Under the right conditions, a sick person can live everyday life. When making a diagnosis and prescribing treatment, it is necessary to collect a complete history of the patient’s life and analyze what causes contributed to the onset of symptoms.
The instability of the mental state brings discomfort to the patient and his entire family, and all social interactions to which a person is so accustomed become impossible. Since the disease may have a favorable prognosis, treatment should be started immediately when the first symptoms appear. There are antipsychotic medications and tranquilizers available for treatment that can reduce symptoms and make life easier for those with schizophrenia. Essentially, the treatment also includes mental support and psychotherapy. The disease development in each patient is individual; in some cases, patients can live everyday life if treated on time. Consequently, schizophrenia is not a sentence; current conditions, medicines, and therapy help patients reduce severe symptoms.
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