Schizophrenia: Current Hypotheses, Treatments, and Future Directions
thesisposted on 2020-05-13, 00:00 authored by Jake Aadland
Schizophrenia is a psychological disorder that predominantly manifests in men during their early 20s, a few years later in women, and affects one percent of the world population. The disorder is characterized by the expression of positive and negative symptoms as well as cognitive impairments. Positive symptoms include hallucinations and delusions, while negative symptoms include social withdrawal and loss of motivation. Pharmacological treatment of the disorder has been centered around antipsychotics, but results have been inconsistent and typically ineffective for negative symptoms. Combination therapy with forms of psychosocial interventions have been effective in some patients. Early research focused on alterations to dopaminergic transmission which led to the development of the dopamine hypothesis. More recently, the N-methyl D-aspartic acid (NMDA) receptor hypofunction hypothesis was developed, implicating a more complicated underlying etiology of the schizophrenic symptoms. Together, these hypotheses provide information on the molecular underpinnings of schizophrenia, but our understanding is still incomplete. The interplay between dopamine and NMDA receptor transmission has become the focus of current research. With the continuous improvement of imaging technology, a deeper understanding of the origins of schizophrenia may be on the horizon. This review will discuss current schizophrenia hypotheses and address gaps in the research field. Finally, potential directions will be proposed to attempt to fill those gaps.