Schizophrenia affects the whole body, not just the brain

Schizophrenia is considered a mental disorder affecting how a person thinks, feels and behaves. However, a new study, which one of the authors of the work Toby Pillinger (Toby Pillinger) briefly reports in The Conversation, shows that in other organs there can be changes with the onset of the disease.

Scientists have long known that people with schizophrenia are ill (different physical ailments) much more often than the general population and that this generally increases the likelihood of premature death. So, according to statistics, patients with schizophrenia live on average 15-20 years less than ordinary people.

However, the negative impact on physical health was considered most often as a side effect. It is noted that antipsychotics, for example, are associated with an increased risk of obesity and the development of type 2 diabetes. In addition, factors related to lifestyle can also influence: perhaps a person suffering from a mental disorder will be less likely to exercise and will not eat well.

However, in recent years, scientists have begun to notice that people who have been diagnosed with schizophrenia and who have not taken any medication have already had some physiological changes, such as a hyperactive immune system. In this regard, the authors of the work have decided to understand whether schizophrenia can be considered a disorder of the body as a whole.

As the researchers note, they decided to study the evidence of physiological changes in the body at the beginning of the development of schizophrenia and compare them with evidence of brain changes in the same people. The authors used data from a variety of studies in which, for example, hormone levels and glucose and cholesterol levels were assessed. In addition, specialists also took data from studies that studied the structure of the brain, levels of its various substances, as well as markers of brain activity.

The authors note that in this way they were able to show that schizophrenia at an early stage is associated with changes in both the structure and functions of the brain and in various other organs. However, the researchers found that the magnitude of the effect for these changes - in the brain and in other parts of the body - was the same. And this, according to scientists, can lead to the assumption that schizophrenia is, more likely, a disorder in the whole whole body.

Researchers note three possible explanations for how changes in the brain are associated with changes throughout the body in schizophrenia. First, it is possible that dysfunctions in the body can cause changes in the brain, thereby leading to the development of schizophrenia. Secondly, as scientists suggest, the symptoms of schizophrenia can pour into physical health disorders (for example, stress during psychosis increases the level of the hormone cortisol). Thirdly, the symptoms of schizophrenia and physical disabilities may appear differently, but because of the general risk factor (so, according to the researchers, hunger during pregnancy can increase the risk of developing a child's diabetes and schizophrenia in adulthood) .

The authors of the work emphasize that in order to find out what is the cause and what is the consequence (whether changes in the body as a whole are a cause or a consequence of schizophrenia), more research is needed.
The work dedicated to the new study was published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.


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