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Schizophrenia, which means “split mind” in Greek, is a psychological disorder affecting a person’s emotional, intellectual, and behavioral brain function. Diagnosing schizophrenia, although very difficult, is based on presentation of at least 2 of the following symptoms: delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech, grossly disorganized behavior, or weak or absent signs of emotion, speech, and socialization. One popular hypothesis of schizophrenia cause among psychologists is the neurodevelopmental hypothesis, which says that schizophrenia starts with abnormalities of the nervous system during prenatal and neonatal development.
These abnormalities or defects can be genetic or other physiological stressors.
Prenatal development has been shown to be very impressionable and countless factors must be taken into account. There are three sources of evidence that support this hypothesis: several different prenatal and neonatal stressors are linked to schizophrenia later in life; people diagnosed with schizophrenia have minor brain abnormalities originating early in life; it is plausible that abnormalities in early development can impair behavior in adulthood. There are countless stressors that affect a developing fetus and newborn baby, especially brain development.
Nutrition or malnutrition of the mother, premature birth, low birth weight, complications during delivery, or emotional stress of the mother such as the death of a family member can all play a part in the later diagnosis of schizophrenia, although none by themselves make a huge impact. Head injuries during the later part of the pregnancy or neonatally can have a big risk increase or later problems. An odd statistic that is gaining recognition is the season-of-birth effect.
Children born in the winter have a slightly higher probability of developing schizophrenia, around a 5-8% increase over births throughout the rest of the year. One possible explanation of this is the increase in epidemics such as the flu that occurs in the fall, which can have adverse effects on the developing fetus. No matter what the cause, prenatal and neonatal care and development offers a huge insight into finding the cause of schizophrenia.
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