Amalgamated from the Greek words skhizein and phren, Swiss psychiatrist Eugen Bleuler introduced the word schizophrenie into the psychological lexicon in 1910. The word meant ‘a splitting of the mind’ and was seen as an apt term to describe the deteriorating mental health of those suffering from the diagnosed disease.
That diagnostic consensus has been the accepted one for decades, but now Toby Pillinger, a Doctor and Clinical Researcher at King’s College in London, and a team of colleagues has completed a study that alleges that there are correlations between the disease and physical changes in the body.
In the study, Pilinger notes that scientists have long known that people with schizophrenia suffer a much lower lifespan due to the onset of physical diseases. It is thought that the physical diseases are a result of the schizophrenia.
Even the medical treatment of schizophrenia has been seen as contributing to changes in the body.
“Antipsychotic drugs, for example,” writes Pilinger in Science Alert, “are associated with an increased risk of weight gain and type 2 diabetes.”
Pilinger and his team poured over accumulated evidence of “physiological changes around the body at the onset of schizophrenia and compared it with evidence of changes within the brain in the same group of people.”
The team collated the data and reaffirmed past findings that schizophrenia causes structures in the brain and that vital organs function. What the team also found was that schizophrenia was a ‘body-wide disease’.
According to the report, with the onset of schizophrenia there was no real change in the brain but there were noted alterations in other organs like the heart and kidneys.
Pilinger et al write that there are currently three theories as to the correlation. The first theory says that the physical changes throughout the body may be harbingers of an eventual mental deterioration.
The second theory says that the onset of schizophrenia causes physical changes and the third theory centers on the a belief that schizophrenia and physical alterations may be triggered by different means but from a shared risk factor.
Pilinger writes, “We need to do more work to figure out whether changes around the body are a cause or a consequence of schizophrenia.
“One approach is to look at those people who are at risk of developing schizophrenia to see how changes around the body evolve in the ones who develop schizophrenia compared with those who don’t.”
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