Preventing Schizophrenia - Recent Research

Prevention of schizophrenia before it develops is something that is still in the early research stage but there are some very positive signs that the risk of developing schizophrenia can be controlled and lowered.

There are two different approaches to preventing schizophrenia that are currently being researched;

1. Preventative measures that are taken well prior to any measurable signs of the early phase of schizophrenia (also called the prodromal phase, in medical terms).

2. Preventative measures taken during the prodromal period of schizophrenia. (People typically show some early signs of schizophrenia well before the full development of schizophrenia).

Preventing Schizophrenia - See the following articles for news and information on this exciting area of research

1.Schizophrenia Prevention - Tactics for Individual and Family Risk Reduction

2. Researchers edging closer to preventing schizophrenia
3. Can schizophrenia be prevented? (Neuropsychiatry Journal)
4. Preventing Schizophrenia and Psychotic Behavior: Definitions and Methodological Issues (research paper)
5. New Book: Preventive strategies for schizophrenic disorders - Perspectives, Opportunities and Limits.

Reducing the Risk of Getting Schizophrenia

Just as it has become evident from recent genetics research that some people are genetically predisposed towards certain diseases like heart disease and Alzheimer's, it has also been determined that there are some strong genetic factors that predispose some people to schizophrenia. The strong genetic role in schizophrenia is shown in the following graph which shows your probability of getting schizophrenia if someone else in your family has schizophrenia - for example, if one identical twin has schizophrenia research suggests that there is a 48% probability that the second twin will also develop schizophrenia. As can be seen by the graph - the more genes that a person shares with a person with schizophrenia - the higher the risk that they will also develop schizophrenia. (For more information, see: Heredity and Genetics of Schizophrenia)

However, the fact that even if a person shares 100% of the genes (that is, they are an identical twin) there is only a 48% of developing schizophrenia - suggests that there are many "environmental" influences that also determine whether a person develops schizophrenia. Environmental - in this definition - includes everything from the nutritional environment or viruses that a baby is subjected to in the womb, to social environment growing up, to teen drug use or stress.

Increasingly research has identified different environmental factors that seem to have an influence on the probability of people developing schizophrenia. This research is extremely difficult to do (and very expensive) because it requires the monitoring and comparisons of large numbers of variables in a large number of people over a long period of time to get statistically valid information. What researchers have instead now focused on are retrospective analysis of populations in a process called epidemiology.

During the past two decades a number of factors have been identified that appear to be involved in the development of schizophrenia. What has not yet been done for the public is the identification of actions that a person might want to take to minimize the chances that he or she would develop the disease.

Recently, schizophrenia researchers and professionals have begun to address this issue of prevention (see Considering Schizophrenia from a Prevention Perspective). We are leveraging this research to develop some ideas for some concrete steps that families can take today (short of taking low doses of medications prior to onset of schizophrenia - since the research is still going on in this area, and the costs are high) to minimize the further chances for schizophrenia.

For More Information See the full list of Genetic and Environmental Factors involved in schizophrenia and possible prevention approaches



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