New hope for early intervention in schizophrenia
A study recently published in the Medical Journal of Australia offers new hope for early intervention in schizophrenia. According to Professor Ian Hickie, Executive Director of the University of Sydney’s Brain and Mind Institute, and Professor Patrick McGorry, Executive Director of the University of Melbourne’s ORYGEN Research Centre, schizophrenia may not be accounted for by genetic factors alone; the environment may also have a role to play. Professor Hickie said, “…for the past 20 years, much of the research into schizophrenia has been based on the belief that the disorder results largely from genetically determined abnormalities in brain development.” This type of thinking has discounted the value of early intervention strategies, the researchers went on to explain. According to findings from the study, there are many potential environmental risks for schizophrenia as well. The following is an excerpt of an article from Medical News Today that discusses the study’s findings more:
“Postpubescent use of cannabis has been shown to have a critical role, and amphetamine use is now being closely investigated. Other factors under the microscope include infection and other inflammatory risk factors as well as the impact of oestrogen exposure.”
Professor Hickie said a clinical staging model is also challenging the dogma that each of the major psychiatric disorders has a unique pathway.
“By contrast, the staging model suggests a ‘trunk and branch’ analogy with the early stages sharing common factors that branch out into more specific symptoms later on, typically when patients are in their early 20s.
“The exciting part of this is that it introduces the possibility that early intervention could help treat a broad range of disorders.