Schizophrenia is an extremely common and complex psychiatric condition that can express itself in a myriad of ways. Understanding the contributing/predisposing factors – both internal and external –for why people develop schizophrenia, when it can appear and/or reappear, and how it can best be managed remains one of the more challenging endeavors within the behavioral sciences.
This first generation antipsychotics, commonly referred to as typical or conventional antipsychotics, worked by blockingthe neurotransmission of a specific chemical messenger within the brain known as dopamine. Drugs within this class include haloperidol, fluphenazine and chlorpromazine. While they were found to help many who suffered from this disorder, they possessed a number of unpleasant/unwanted motor side effects including rigidity, tremors, dystonias, bradykinesias and akathesia (tardive dyskinesia). However, it was realized fairly early on that the brain is extremely complex. As such, the neurophysiological and neurochemical underpinnings of the behavioral disturbances associated with this disorder could not and should not be explained entirely by a dysfunction of the dopaminergic system alone.
The discovery of a whole new class of antipsychotic medications known as the atypical antipsychotics was a significant advancement in both our understanding of what is occurring within the brain of schizophrenics and how to treat it.
It is now accepted that dysfunction in multiple neuronal systems and how they interact underlie the (diverse) behavioral manifestations of this disorder. These new medications (e.g., aripiprazole, clozapine, olanzapine, quetiapine, respiradone and ziprasidone) affect multiple neurotransmitter systems and appear to represent a better approach to the treatment of this disorder. These newer antipsychotics tend to have a better side effects profile than their predecessors, but they still possess certain side effects that may need to be taken into consideration. One of the more notable is the tendency for people taking this class of medications to gain weight.
Nonetheless, research into this disease needs to continue. Not only focusing on efficacy, but also on attempting to lessen or eliminate unwanted side effects. To this end, SPRI is currently conducting Schizophrenia Research Studies Brooklyn. If you live within the New York City MetropolitanArea, consider contacting SPRI at 718-616-2400 or visit them on the web at spribrooklyn.com to learn more about the research they are engaged in and how what they are doing may be able to help.