Schizophrenia in the United States

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Updated: Mar 28, 2022
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In the United States, schizophrenia is one of the most prevalent mental health disorders that Americans suffer from daily. Those who deal with such a debilitating disorder go through a variety of different symptoms that can be classified in three categories, positive, negative and cognitive. Initial symptoms of schizophrenia-like irritability and the inability to sleep may cause alarm before a diagnosis is made. Positive symptoms of schizophrenia, those symptoms that are not usually present, can include hallucinations and delusions (“How Does Schizophrenia” 2006).

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Lack of motivation for everyday activities and withdrawal are symptoms that are classified as negative (“How Does Schizophrenia” 2006). Lastly, cognitive symptoms such as disorganized thoughts and trouble concentrating can have a great impact on those individuals suffering from schizophrenia. Statistically, about 3.2 million Americans will be diagnosed with schizophrenia for only one year.

As more and more cases are reported, the symptoms of COS have been put on the radar, classified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, also known as the DSM-5. This manual categorizes the essential features and symptoms needed to be shown, which helps doctors diagnose an individual struggling with schizophrenia. Researchers have concluded that “”two of the five symptoms listed under the DSM-5 must be shown for a month”” in order for anyone to be diagnosed with any chronic mental health disorder. Results of a prevalence study between genders done in 2002 show that “”Compared to females, males have a higher prevalence in all age groups before age 55, and a lower prevalence in all age groups after age 55” (Wu, Shi, Birnbaum, Hudson & Kessler, 2006). Unfortunately being diagnosed with this mental health disorder will most likely have a negative impact on an individual’s everyday life. Those who deal with schizophrenia may not be able to carry out the daily tasks that they were able to do before the diagnosis. Their learning abilities may suffer and their ability to socialize may decrease because of their symptoms.

An individual suffering from schizophrenia has unique neurological makeup that may increase a person’s risk of developing this illness. The brain structure of an individual struggling with schizophrenia is slightly different from those who don’t. “Early brain development leads to gene misexpression, which causes the emergence of schizophrenic traits in the presence of various confounding factors, such as environment, infection, and concurrent substance use.” (Arabski, 2015, p.1) Dr. Annemarie Loth states that “the size and function of one’s temporal lobe can determine the severity of schizophrenia. (APA). The temporal lobe is the part of our brains that process auditory stimuli.

It interprets speech and words in our everyday life and without it, we would be unable to have meaningful conversations or listen to lectures. There are also abnormalities in their gray and white matter located in their temporal lobe (Loth and Pataki). “Rapoport et al demonstrated that adolescents with schizophrenia have significantly greater decreases in frontal and temporal gray matter volumes than those observed in healthy age-matched controls” (Loth and Pataki). However, these gray and white matter deficits during a child’s early ages sometimes seem to normalize and diminish as they grow older (Loth and Pataki). These gray and white matters are vital to our synapse that travels through our axons in our brain. The thalamus also could possibly play a part in the onset of schizophrenia. The main function of the thalamus is to send sensory and motor signals to the cerebral cortex. Teenagers who have studied show decreases in brain fluids and tissue loss in the thalamus which can be linked to the diagnosis of schizophrenia.

MRI studies of COS patients have also consistently shown evidence of lateral ventricular enlargement (Driver et al). Not only do abnormal brain structures cause COS, but neurotransmitters such as dopamine and glutamine can also increase the risks of developing this mental illness. Dopamine is an inhibitory neurotransmitter and a chemical messenger that sends signals between brain cells. It is said by researchers that individuals that suffer from schizophrenia produce an increased amount of dopamine (Loth and Pataki). The dopamine hypothesis argues “”that the unusual behavior and experiences associated with schizophrenia can be fully or largely explained by changes in dopamine function in the brain”” (Driver et al). Glutamate also plays a role in the diagnosis of schizophrenia. Glutamate is an excitatory neurotransmitter (Driver et al). The multiple areas of the brain involved in schizophrenia are connected by a circuit of brain cells that rely on glutamate to communicate. Research so far suggests that either excess or insufficient glutamate activity may cause symptoms, partly through its interactions with other neurotransmitters like dopamine (Driver et al).

On the school of psychology side of things, a person may have developed this mental illness due to cognitive psychology. Cognitive psychology is a theory that focuses on the way that individuals process information and internal processes.

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Schizophrenia in the United States. (2019, Apr 24). Retrieved from