This health video looks around the myths surrounding Schizophrenia.
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Moe Armstrong: I hear stuff, which always starts off as a rustling sound, and that sound builds and builds and builds, until there's voices. Jennifer Matthews: One in every one hundred people has schizophrenia. Frank Baron: I was convinced I was a secret agent looking for bombs in cars. Jennifer Matthews: It's a debilitating illness that wreaks havoc on the brain. But, how do people like these men get schizophrenia? Dr. Robert Yolken: Individuals who have a family history of schizophrenia are about seven-fold more likely to have the disease. Jennifer Matthews: Now, researchers have uncovered another risk factor. Dr. Robert Yolken: Infections, at different times in life, seem to impose an increased risk of schizophrenia in some individuals." Jennifer Matthews: Doctor Robert Yolken says infections like herpes, and even the flu, have been linked to schizophrenia. Dr. Robert Yolken: Infections represent one environmental component, and that, by trying to study infections, we may be able to treat or prevent at least some cases of schizophrenia. Jennifer Matthews: One study showed a 20% incidence of schizophrenia in people whose mothers had rubella during pregnancy. Still another showed risk tripled when moms were exposed to influenza during pregnancy. About one-third of schizophrenics have an infection called cytomegalovirus. In a recent study, Doctor Yolken tested a drug that inhibits the virus. Dr. Robert Yolken: What we noticed is that a number of the symptoms improved in some of these individuals." Jennifer Matthews: Doctor Yolken says research like this might prevent some cases, but it could also help those who already have schizophrenia. Dr. Robert Yolken: By preventing the infection or suppressing the infection, we may make the other drugs work more effectively and, therefore, improve the balance in the brain. Jennifer Matthews: A key step forward in a major mental illness. This is Jennifer Matthews reporting.