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Pathway-Specific Dopamine Abnormalities in Schizophrenia

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Early environmental factors, such as, medical problems during early pregnancy or delivery have been implicated, and it has been suggested that environmental influences that might modulate a genetic factor like influenza in the mother may play a role. Indirect evidence in support of this comes from the curious fact that those who have schizophrenia are more likely to be born in late winter and early spring. All these can point to a “ two-strike etiology” involving both environmental and genetic factors that might explain sporadic cases of schizophrenia (Theo, G.

M. et al, 2002).   Superficially seen, adverse life events like loss of a relationship or drug abuse with drugs that release dopamine in the brain like amphetamine or cocaine have been observed findings in cases of schizophrenia. This translates into the question of how schizophrenia evolves in the body. The acute symptoms of schizophrenia appear to result from the excessive release of neurotransmitter, dopamine in the brain. Another causative hypothesis points to “ hyperactivity of nigrostriatal and mesolimbic systems by event-related evoked potential” showing the reduction in P300 amplitude to a novel stimulus implicating impairment in cognitive processing or information processing with the relative decrease in the mesocortical tracts innervating the prefrontal cortex where information is processed.

This action may be mediated by a combination of neurotransmitters like serotonin, acetylcholine, glutamine, and GABA (gamma amino butyric acid) (Winterer, G. et al, 2003). Critical Evaluation of Approaches: Antipsychotic medications remain the cornerstone of treatment of schizophrenia. Since these are inadequate to date despite the advent of newer drugs, many different approaches are utilized for a successful outcome in the treatment of this devastating disease, which psychiatrists are still trying to understand.

We shall focus on the role of community-based psychiatric  services to enable these patients to lead a normal life. Social and psychological  interventions are as important as drugs and rehabilitation in the schizophrenics.  

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