To what extent is schizophrenia a biological disorder?

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To what extent is schizophrenia a biological disorder?


As well as the biological approaches there are physiological, psychological and environmental explanations. New theories of schizophrenia are constantly being developed each having their own advantages and disadvantages. How do we know however, which one is correct?

The biological explanation suggests that schizophrenia is produced by an unfortunate combination of genes or is due to physical problems in the brain. Researchers favouring the biological explanation look at genetic factors, brain structure and biochemical explanations.

Many researchers would suggest that the debate over whether schizophrenia is passed down through genetics is no longer a matter of controversy. The key point now, is to what extent genetic factors have in schizophrenia, it could in fact be a combination of many points.

To begin studying schizophrenia and its biological aspect we must first look at blood relatives. There is much evidence to suggest that if a close relative of an individual, i.e. mother, father, brother, has been diagnosed as schizophrenic, then the chances of this individual also being diagnosed with schizophrenia are a lot higher than say if your Aunty or Great grandfather was diagnosed. This is based around a genetic influence. An individual shares 50% of their genes with a close relative such as their mother and only 25% with their grandmother. Therefore the closer the relative being diagnosed with schizophrenia, the more likely they will also be diagnosed. However, there is also debate around this point through looking at environmental factors. An individual may share the same environment and stressors as a close relative, therefore the chance of them both developing schizophrenia will be the same. This can also be accounted for distant relatives who are unlikely to share the same environment.  

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We can therefore assume that to confirm a genetic base for schizophrenia, research must separate genetic influences from environmental influences. In order to do this, researchers must look at the evidence presented through twin studies. A set of MZ twins share the same genes, therefore if only one of the develops schizophrenia, it is more likely to be through environmental factors. If genetic factors are of prime importance then MZ twins should show a higher concordance rate than DZ twins. This is in fact the case, and MZ twins are two to four times more likely to develop schizophrenia ...

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