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1ABOUT SCHIZOPHRENIA Schizophrenia is a mental illness that affects the normal functioning of the brain It interferes with a persons ability to think feel and act The illness alters the senses making it very difficult for a person with schizophrenia to tell what is real from what is not real The term schizophrenia was introduced in 1911 by a Swiss psychiatrist Eugen Bleuler The word comes from the Greek word schizo meaning split and phrenia meaning mind Bleuler wanted to convey the split between what is perceived what is believed and what is objectively real He did not mean that the person with schizophrenia is split into two personalities but that there is a splitting of the personality away from reality The concept of split however has led to schizophrenia being confused with multiple personality a less common and very different psychiatric disorder Schizophrenia Fellowship of NSW 2CAUSES OF SCHIZOPHRENIA No single cause has been identified but a number of different factors are believed to contribute to the onset of schizophrenia in some people Possible Contributing Factors include 21Neuro-developmental Factors The research in this area investigates the possibility that individuals who develop schizophrenia in early adult life have suffered some from of cerebral maldevelopment in uterus That is they experience a disorder in the development of their brain while in the womb 22Biochemical Factors Certain biochemical imbalances in the brain are believed to be involved in this condition especially a neurotransmitter called dopamine 23Drug Use Drugs including alcohol tobacco and street drugs themselves do not cause schizophrenia However certain drugs can make symptoms worse or trigger a psychotic episode if a person already has schizophrenia Drugs can also create schizophrenia-like symptoms in otherwise healthy individuals 24Environment Possible environmental factors include obstetric complications such as exposure to influenza during pregnancy or nutritional deprivation during pregnancy An increase risk of schizophrenia has been found in
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