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Schizophrenia is a chronic brain disorder that makes it difficult for a person to tell the difference between reality and what is not real, to think logically, to have normal emotional responses, and to behave in social situations (Mental Health America, 2018) . The word originates from its greek roots meaning “split mind” which is why many people may associate this disorder with split or multiple personality disorder (Mental Health America, 2018) . Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that was first recognized and classified by a doctor named Emile Kraepelin in 1887(Neel Burton, 2018). It is characterized by a variety of symptoms such as loss of contact with reality, hallucinations, delusions and unnatural behaviour (Segal & Smith, 2017). It affects more than one percent of all Canadians (Statistics Canada, 2015) and 21 million people worldwide (World Health Organization, 2018), but little is known about the disease. Despite years of research, no clear causes of schizophrenia have been identified. Some theories of the aetiology include genetics, environmental factors, substance abuse, and infections and immune disorders (Mental Health America, 2018). This has lead to a great “nature vs nurture” debate in the medical world. Some people may believe how a person is raised and their experiences in life may be the leading cause while others argue that genetics contribute to the development of the disease and the role of genes cannot be underestimated. A variety of research have been made so far to explain the genetic and environmental factors that influence the development of schizophrenia but there is still no clear answer. Experts are starting to study the causes of the disease by studying genetics, conducting behavioral research, and by using advanced imaging to look at the brain’s structure and function. According to physician Renna Parekh, “These approaches hold the promise of new, more effective therapies”(2017). By knowing how Schizophrenia is caused, scientists can begin to develop new and improved treatments. Although no one knows what the exact cause of Schizophrenia is, genetics, environmental factors and substance abuse are the most popular and widely accepted theories.
One possible cause of schizophrenia may be genetics. Researchers believe that some people may inherit a tendency to be at greater risk for schizophrenia in their lifetime. Scientists have concluded that this mental disorder runs in families, especially among blood relatives. There is a forty percent chance that a child may inherit schizophrenia if both of their biological parents have suffered from the disease, even if they are not raised by them. Children who’s parents do not have schizophrenia still have a one percent chance of developing it (Haggerty, 2016). This is why there is still a great debate about whether genetics are the leading cause. Scientists have also looked into the structure of schizophrenic patient’s brains and believe that the disease may be caused by an imbalance of brain chemicals, neurotransmitters, dopamine, glutamate and serotonin. This imbalance affects the way people react to different stimuli such as loud music or bright lights. This difficulty in processing different sense may also lead to hallucination or delusions that schizophrenic patients typically experience (Mental Health America, 2018). In recent research,a group of 300 scientists from 35 countries formed the Working Group of the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium and found 128 genes that may be linked to schizophrenia. They compared the genomes of 37,00 schizophrenic patients using a genome-wide association study (GWAS) and were able to verify which genes were linked to this disorder. Despite this, they were not able to determine which exact genes are responsible for it (Mercola, 2016).