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Schizophrenia: The Role of Environmental Factors

Schizophrenia is a common disorder that is often diagnosed based on certain symptoms such as delusions, hallucinations, and cognitive deficits, although care must be taken to ensure that this disorder is not confused with different conditions that can cause some of the same symptoms (e.g., bipolar disorder). Several studies have shown that motor delays and cognitive impairments are more prominent among patients with schizophrenia than those with bipolar disorder (Reichenberg et al., 2002; Zammit et al., 2004), and this appears to help practitioners make more accurate diagnoses. Research regarding schizophrenia has also consistently shown that the prefrontal and temporal regions of the brain are altered in patients suffering from this disorder (Pearlson, 2000; Windemuth et al., 2008).

In addition to the role that genetic abnormalities and cognitive deficits play in the onset of schizophrenia, environmental factors may also contribute to the development of this disorder. What are some of these environmental factors?

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Although heredity and neurodegeneration appear to be the main causes of schizophrenia, there is evidence that environmental factors may also contribute to the onset of this disorder. For instance, Krabbendam and Van Os (2005) suggest that the risk of developing schizophrenia increases linearly according to how long a child was raised in an urbanized neighborhood.

It is proposed that urbanization may lead to migration, which can in turn lead to the isolation of certain social classes as well as social disadvantages (Cantor-Graae & Selten, 2005). In other words, families who cannot adapt to urbanization, socially or financially, may not have access to vital mental health resources (e.g., treatment or interventions) and this may in turn increase the number of individuals who develop schizophrenia. Pearlson (2000) supports the notion that individuals who do not have proper access to mental health services are more susceptible to this disorder by showing that well-developed nations have a lower overall incidence rate of schizophrenia than ...

Solution Summary

Schizophrenia is a common disorder that is often diagnosed based on certain symptoms such as delusions, hallucinations, and cognitive deficits, although care must be taken to ensure that this disorder is not confused with different conditions that can cause some of the same symptoms (e.g., bipolar disorder). Research shows that motor delays and cognitive impairments are more prominent among patients with schizophrenia than those with bipolar disorder and this appears to help practitioners make more accurate diagnoses. Research regarding schizophrenia has also consistently described certain regions of the brain that are altered in patients suffering from this disorder. In addition to the role that genetic abnormalities and cognitive deficits play in the onset of schizophrenia, environmental factors may also contribute to the development of this disorder. This library solution will describe some of these factors.

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