Common, but alone

In October 2013 on October 3, 2013 at 10:08 am


Sarah: Next time you go to an event or venue with lots of people, look around.

Approximately 1 in every 100 people that you see suffers from, or will develop, schizophrenia.

Truth be told, in reality the people that actually do experience this debilitating brain disorder probably stay well away from crowded public places. With disordered thinking, delusions and hallucinations common amongst sufferers, busy bustling places are probably the last place they’d want to hang out.

Despite its relatively high prevalence, schizophrenia remains a difficult disease to diagnose and treat, and approximately 50% of sufferers attempt suicide to escape the manifestations of the disease and its treatment.

Schizophrenia is believed to be a disorder resulting from abnormalities in the ways that nerves and organisational centres in the brain develop and form connections. Although lifestyle and social factors have a role in triggering disease onset, it does have a genetic basis – in other words, it’s in the DNA.

The problem is, we don’t know which bit of DNA is to blame. As a result, current approaches to both diagnosis and clinical management of the disease are non-specific and broad-brush in nature. It’s comparable to treating an ear infection with every known antibiotic. One will probably work, but you’ll also experience a hell of a lot of unwanted side effects.

Naturally, scientists and doctors are constantly on the lookout to identify new genes which might help them better understand and manage schizophrenia. Recently, Adelaide’s Dr Quenten Schwarz sniffed out a lead in this regard. To read more, see my latest Robinson Institute Science Story Exciting new target for schizophrenia diagnosis and treatment.

[image thanks to Photos by Mavis]


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