Discovery could improve treatment for victims

About 1 percent of Americans suffer from schizophrenia, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. As most Social Security lawyers in Chicago understand, the associated symptoms can be severely debilitating. Fortunately, new research may lead to better treatments for this disease. One impactful new study indicates schizophrenia may be eight different diseases. This understanding could eventually lead to more effective treatments for all forms of schizophrenia.

Underlying causes explored

Previous research has focused unsuccessfully on the contribution of individual genes to schizophrenia. The new study considered the way gene networks interact to contribute to the disease. Researchers studied the gene networks of 4,196 schizophrenia patients and 3,200 control patients.

The schizophrenia patients were grouped based on the positive or negative symptoms they displayed. The researchers created eight profiles, which may represent eight distinct diseases. Researchers also found that 70 to 100 percent of a person’s risk of developing schizophrenia is genetically based. Gene networks associated with one type of schizophrenia were correlated with a 100 percent risk of the disease.

Researchers hope these findings will lead to treatments focusing on the specific gene networks responsible for each patient’s condition. Since the cause of schizophrenia is unknown, current treatments can only mitigate symptoms. New treatments could directly address the underlying causes of the disease.

Schizophrenia and SSD

Schizophrenia can have myriad daily impacts. The disease may affect a person’s ability to focus, retain short-term information and make effective decisions. These effects, along with psychotic symptoms, can impede victims in performing daily tasks, including work. As Social Security lawyers in Chicago know, people who cannot work may be entitled to Social Security Disability benefits.

The Social Security Administration’s “Blue Book” recognizes schizophrenia as a disabling mental disorder. A person may qualify medically for SSD benefits if the disease causes one specified symptom and two functional limitations. These symptoms include disorganized behavior, delusions or incoherent behavior accompanied with blunt, flat or inappropriate affects. The functional limitations are as follows:

  • Multiple worsening episodes
  • Challenges functioning socially
  • Difficulty focusing, finishing tasks or working at an appropriate pace
  • Significant limitations in daily activities

Under the Blue Book, victims may also qualify for benefits with medical evidence of schizophrenia persisting over two years. Victims must document episodes of decompensation, inability to adjust to environmental changes or a need for supportive living arrangements.

People who don’t meet these criteria may still qualify for medical-vocational allowances. The SSA awards these allowances after evaluating each claimant’s ability to work, given the claimant’s unique condition. Unfortunately, documenting schizophrenia and its effects can be challenging. The help of Social Security lawyers in Chicago may be invaluable during claims involving complex diseases such as schizophrenia.