In our daily lives, most people are diagnosed with some form of psychiatric disorder such as schizophrenia and other forms of anxiety disorders. Moreover, in connection to the nature-nurture issue, a number of psychiatric disorders are either inherited from parents or are developed due to a complex interplay of environmental factors.
They can also be due the combination of both factors. It is important to note that each psychiatric disorder differs in management methods, which eventually is beneficial in ascertaining appropriate means of treatment.
Schizophrenia refers to a malfunction of the brain that has affected the lives of many people throughout history (Andreasen, 1994). However, the infrequent and unusual brain disorder has not been given the right approach and several of its victims have suffered in silence. The genes and the environment have been attributed to be one of the causal factors for this condition. It is approximated that about one percent of the entire population suffers from schizophrenia and it runs in most families.
The disease is present in about ten percent of those who have afflicted first-degree relatives and those with afflicted second-degree relatives are also at increased risk. According to Tsuang, Faraone, and Johnson, the probability is highest in the case of identical twins, which is at about forty to sixty-five percent (1997).
Researchers postulate that the condition is developed due to interaction of several genes, which possibly are able to disrupt the normal functioning of various parts the brain. The ailment makes the lateral ventricles to increase in size and impinges on the normal functions of the frontal regions of the brain.
The temporal lobe, hippocampus, amygdale, sections of the limbic system, as well as sections of the Superior Temporal Gyrus (STG) are mainly reduced in volume due to this disorder. In addition, the prefrontal cortex, which serves as a memory center, is also intensively affected.
Medical experts have also postulated that the condition is due to abnormalities in brain chemistry and structure. This is directly related to the differences in the complex and interrelated chemical reactions in the brain, which involve a number of neurotransmitters (substances that allow easier communication between the brain cells).
Dopamine and Dopamine receptors have been identified in this respect and the treatment for managing this disorder is mainly targeted to interact with dopamine receptors.
NMDA, GAGA and the cholinergic system have also been associated to this medical condition. As described above, there are marked disparities between brains of healthy individuals and those of afflicted individuals. Moreover, those afflicted have limited amount of grey matter, limited or increased biological activity is some parts of the brain, and lack of conformity of the brain tissue.
Scientific investigations have also revealed significant transformations in the distribution or attributes of the brain cells that may have happened before birth. A number of scientists have proved that problems encountered during the time of brain development before delivery may lead to improper connections. The effects of these are more evident during puberty because major changes occur in the development of the brain during this period. These have the ability of activating psychotic symptoms.
The symptoms associated to schizophrenia are majorly grouped into positive symptoms, negative symptoms, and cognitive symptoms. Positive symptoms relate to the experiences of immensely abnormal behavior that is not seen in healthy individuals.
According to Hirsch and Weinberger, they include hallucinations where the sick people see, hear, smell, or have feelings not seen in healthy people, delusions where the afflicted have false beliefs that are not component of their culture, and movement disorders that are seen as agitated body movements (2003, p.5).
Negative symptoms, which include lack of pleasure in daily activities and abnormal speech problems, can prove to very elusive at the early stages since they are similar to depression or other conditions. Cognitive symptoms, which include impairment of executive functioning, complexities in paying attention, and complexities with working memory, may further make the life of the victim to be more difficult.
The appropriate drug therapy for schizophrenia mainly needs a combination of antipsychotic, antidepressant, and anti-anxiety drug treatment, which focus on reducing the symptoms of the disorder. As much as proper treatment is advocated, however, most people usually desist from taking the medication prescribed for the sickness. This is more evident when resumption of normal health is delayed and when the side effects of the drugs are more pronounced.
That is why medical experts usually advise their patients to start by taking a cheaper and more proficient drug such as clozapine. Antipsychotic medication is used to help the afflicted recover the normal biochemical balance and lower the possibility of a relapse in the future. A number of patients of schizophrenia usually respond well to appropriate drug therapy and are able of living comfortable lives once again.
Generally, schizophrenia is an intricate ailment, which deteriorates the normal functioning of the brain, life experiences and behavioral patterns of those afflicted. The brain serves the function of responding to stimuli and modulating them accordingly, but victims of this condition lack the ability of modulating the different mechanisms of the brain. Studies have shown that the various processes in this ailment do not take place on a single basis, but rather the condition is multi factorial.
In as much as many extensive studies have revealed a lot of information about the disease, more elaborate investigations should be done to better understand the genetic differences that contribute to this disorder. This is because the ones that are known increase the risk of developing the condition only by a small level.
Drug abuse case
Possibly, Ron has been defeated to stop abusing alcohol because he has failed to acknowledge an underlying psychological problem. His fruitless attempts to deny, cope with or hide this fact have finally led him to this unfortunate addiction. Ron may have been trying to subdue effects of loneliness, guilt, or self-reproach in his life. He has been addicted for the reason that the alcohol has been constantly stimulating his brain pleasure rewarding pathway (PRP).
Dopamine neurotransmitters play a vital role in the activities of PRP. In a general, alcohol stimulates PRP, which then instantaneously boosts the level of dopamine in the brain and results in the production of a euphoric effect to the victim. These happenings eventually wire the brain. Consequently, the person will constantly aspire to achieve the dopamine highness, and so addiction follows.
The reason why people abuse alcohol has been addressed in relation to the nature-nurture issue. One school of thought suggests that nature (hereditary factors) whereas another suggests that nurture (environmental factors) cause the condition. Recent scientific investigations have pointed out that there is a possibility of parents passing the genes of alcoholism to their children. The type of lifestyle an individual lives is also a significant factor.
This relates to the type of friends the individual hangs around with, the degree of stress in his or her life, and the availability of alcohol within the vicinity (Clinic, 2008). The addiction of Ron that is a worry to his wife is presently incurable, but appropriate medication can be administered to cure it.
To stop his perennial drinking habits, a combination of counseling and medication programs can be introduces so as to help him rebuild his life. Oral medications, for example, disulfiram, naltrexone, and acamparosate have been successfully employed to reduce alcoholism.
Even though the treatment of alcoholism is practical, there are varied levels of success depending on the individual involved. Some previous addicts desist from taking alcohol and remain sober, whereas others experience periodic sessions of sobriety with bouts of relapse.
Others also experience withdrawal symptoms such as sporadic shakiness, nausea, and sweating on ceasing from excessive consumption of alcohol. Nonetheless, the longer the individual desists from taking alcohol, the better the recuperation process becomes.
Tom is suffering from a condition called Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). This refers to a situation whereby a person becomes too much worried and anxious about the daily life events without any concrete reasons (Barlow, 2004). The experience of anxiety disorder has been associated to some specific parts of the brain.
In a healthy individual, the thought process runs in such a way that he or she is able to observe a situation and process information without hindrance. This then determines whether anxiety is needed to “kick in” in order to trigger an appropriate responsive action. In the case of Tom, this process is necessitated by events that really do not require such “flight or fight” responsive action (Hauser, 2005).
Although the exact cause of this tendency has not been fully comprehended, genetics (nature) and environmental factors (nurture) have been associated with GAD. Some studies have indicated that the susceptibility of developing GAD may be tied to the history of the family.
Distressing and stressful factors, for instance, mistreatment, loss of a loved one, separation of parents, loss of employment, dropping out of school, may trigger development of anxiety disorder. The abuse and stopping the taking of addictive drugs may also aggravate the effects of the disorder (Pakhare, 2007).
Perhaps, Tom’s wife can help him by giving him appropriate medication to treat his condition. This program can help him in normalizing his life. His wife can consider giving him benzodiazepines for short-term treatment as this would leave him feeling calm and relaxed by lowering the physical symptoms of the condition.
For long-term treatment, he may be given antidepressants to lighten his moods. The use of cognitive-behavioral therapy is able to help him eliminate his distorted thinking by making him have a more realistic look at different difficult situations. Depending on the specific drug and the person using them, anti-anxiety drugs may bring some side effects such as sleepiness, weight gain, and sexual problems.
It is essential to understand that the people, who are suffering from psychiatric disorders, for example, Ron and Tom, are normal human beings. The only disparity is that the individuals are afflicted by a medical condition that impairs their normal cognitive functions and behavior. Although the conditions are incurable, they can be treated effectively by using appropriate medication. The agony of the afflicted can be lessened by seeking for ways of alleviating their suffering.
Andreasen, N. C. (1994). Schizophrenia: From mind to molecule. Washington: American psychiatric press.
Barlow, D. H. (2004). Anxiety and its disorders: the nature and treatment of anxiety and panic. New York: Guilford Press.
Clinic, M. (2008, May 8). Alcoholism causes. MayoClinic.com. Retrieved April 1, 2010, from
Hauser, J. (2005, February 2). Anxiety: Generalized anxiety disorder. Psych Central. Retrieved April 1, 2010, from http://psychcentral.com/disorders/anxiety/gad.html
Hirsch, S., & Weinberger, D. (2003). Schizophrenia (2nd ed.). Malden: Blackwell Publishing Company
Pakhare, J. (2007, December 5). Types of Mental Illness: List of Mental Disorders.
Buzzle.com. Retrieved April 1, 2010, from
Tsuang, M.T., Faraone, S. V., & Johnson, P.D. (1997). Schizophrenia: the facts. New York: Oxford University Press.