Cause of the Illness
Schizophrenia arises from the imbalance of a neurotransmitter in our brain. The neurotransmitter that is responsible is dopamine. The impairment of the dopaminergic system give rise unusual thoughts, which include hallucination and losing the ability to think. They are living in their own world and lost the ability to communicate with the others.
Antipsychotic agents aim to restore the normal functioning of the dopaminergic system, subsequently recovery of the patients suffering from it.
Why Patients have Hallucination
The imbalance of neurotransmitter gives rise to hallucination. Under the normal circumstances, when our ears receive the voice from the surrounding, the brain then produces a signal and then it analyzes the signal. Finally, we perceive the signal of hearing the voice. For the patients with schizophrenia, the initial process is bypassed. In the absence of stimulus from the surrounding, the brain still produces the signal and the signal being perceived of hearing voices from the surrounding world. Therefore, the patients have difficulty of differentiating the real voice and the unreal voice. The unreal voice is termed auditory hallucination.
How Antipsychotics Treat The Illness
Antipsychotics function to restore the balance of neurotransmitter in the brain. It was discussed earlier that the symptoms are caused by the imbalance of the neurotransmitter. Theoretically, the symptoms should vanish with the restoration of the balance of neurotransmitter. However, in the clinical setting, schizophrenia involves imbalance of multiple neurotransmitter, but the antipsychotics could not target all the neurotransmitter involved. Therefore, some patients show full symptoms remission but some have residual symptoms.
Antipsychotic functions like the vitamins for the brain. It needs to be taken continuously to ensure uninterrupted supply. In the event of discontinuation of antipsychotics, the neurotransmitter imbalance resurfaced and subsequently brings about relapse of the illness. Generally speaking, patients with schizophrenia need to be on long term medication. Inconsistent consumption of the medication only brings about erratic level of neurotransmitter in the brain and does not benefit the patients, more so may worsen the illness severity. A long duration of untreated schizophrenia is neurotoxic and it leads to permanent damage to the brain.