Difficult to diagnose and with no definite cure, schizophrenia can be caused by various factors that range from genetics to possible viral infections. A new research has identified the amino acid found in pregnant women as a possible cause for the development of the illness. Presently, treatment for schizophrenia targets the symptoms of the illness. The identification of the cause, can go a long way in changing the way the malaise is addressed.
According to a new study from the researchers at the University of California, Irvine (UCI), methionine – a common amino acid found in pregnant women – offers fresh hopes for developing preventive approaches and more effective treatments for the disorder.
A serious mental disorder, schizophrenia affects how a person thinks, feels, and acts. Characterized by a combination of cognitive, behavioral and emotional dysfunctions, someone with schizophrenia may have difficulty in distinguishing between real and imaginary situations, may seem unresponsive or withdrawn, and may even face difficulty in expressing normal emotions in social situations.
Basis a mouse model, researchers concluded that excessive methionine in the mother’s system during pregnancy may alter the development of the brain of the fetus that may in turn lead to the onset of schizophrenia. An essential amino acid in humans, methionine plays an important role in the growth of new blood vessels, but it cannot be synthesized by the body itself.
Methionine is known to aggravate the symptoms of schizophrenia. To test the hypothesis, pregnant mice were administered three times the normal dose of methionine during the third week of their pregnancy. When the mice pups were born, it was observed that they exhibited schizophrenia-like cognitive impairments and developmental deficits. Further, they displayed a deficit in nine different tests encompassing the positive, negative, and cognitive impairments associated with the disorder. The researchers also found antipsychotic drugs used in schizophrenia treatment to be effective in treating the positive, negative, and cognitive impairment related to schizophrenia in the pups.
Crediting the present study as the one providing a much broader detail of the biological processes of schizophrenia, lead author Dr. Amal Alachkar said, “Methionine is one of the building blocks of proteins. It is not synthesized by our bodies, and it needs to be ingested. Our study points at the very important role of excess dietary methionine during pregnancy in fetal development, which might have a long-lasting influence on the offspring. This is a very exciting area of research that we hope can be explored in greater depth.”
Though schizophrenia is considered an incurable disorder, its symptoms can be treated. It can easily be managed at one of the leading schizophrenia treatment centers for women. A comprehensive treatment for schizophrenia is aimed at reducing the symptoms. Depending on the intensity of the illness and the severity of the symptoms, treatment for schizophrenia may involve medications, psychotherapy, alternate therapies and a combination of these.
Sovereign Health of Arizona, a leading name in schizophrenia treatment, helps female patients cope with and manage their symptoms in a safe and compassionate environment. Depending on individual needs, the patients are treated through cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), medication, and experiential therapies, such as yoga, meditation, equine and expressive arts therapy.
For more information on our specialized treatment programs for schizophrenia or to know about our state-of-the-art treatment facility, call our 24/7 helpline and speak to our admission specialist. You can even chat online with our representatives for further assistance.
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