What Do We Know About the Causes of Schizophrenia?

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We're learning about the causes of Schizophrenia, but there's still a lot more that we need to learn. We know a little bit about some of the neurochemical changes that occur in the brain, we know a little bit from neuroimaging, about some of the other changes that occur in the brain.

But there's a lot more to learn. One area that is an extremely important area of research, relates to the early stages, what we call the prodromal stages of Schizophrenia, where a person maybe showing some signs of something being wrong, but it's not full blown Schizophrenia, they're not having a psychotic episode, they're not delusional with false beliefs, they're not hearing voices, but there are some early warning signs, and the goal is to develop better ways to screen for those warning signs and have an early intervention in treatment so as to avoid that first episode, and this is an important approach, very similar to what we do in heart disease, years ago, we didn't treat somebody for heart disease till after they had a heart attack, and then we treated them.

Now we take preventative measures for people who maybe at risk. There are approaches that the field is begin to look at, that would help to minimize the risk of somebody who is at risk of developing an illness such as Schizophrenia. And that's a very exciting approach.