If a new international study is correct, schizophrenia is not a disease — it’s a term for eight distinct illnesses.
Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis, working with colleagues at the University of Granada in Spain, have published this conclusion in the American Journal of Psychiatry. They say that their investigation into the role of genetics in schizophrenia led them to believe that there are eight types of this mental illness.
It has long been known that about 80 percent of the risk of developing schizophrenia is due to heredity. But past research looked for individual genes that were causing it. This study says that genes do not work that way.
As one co-author puts it, genes work together like an orchestra. How they work individually, and how they interact, determines whether the entire orchestra performs normally.
Thus, some symptoms of schizophrenia, like hallucinations or delirium, indicated a certain type of DNA variation, while others, like incongruent speech and disorganized behavior, are due to another variation, researchers said.
The scientists say they have found eight distinct diseases currently classified under the diagnosis of schizophrenia. This could lead to better diagnostic procedures, as well as improved treatment options.
Whether it is a single illness or a range of conditions, schizophrenia is a serious disease. It can seriously impact the patient’s quality of life and ability to get or hold a job. If your schizophrenia has become unmanageable, you may qualify for Social Security Disability insurance, so you can focus on getting better.