Friday, September 16, 2016

Researchers criticize: Psychotropic drugs are no solution

That is the title of this article I am reviewing today. "'The currently available drugs cannot permanently alleviate the symptoms of mental disorders. This is the conclusion drawn by psychologists Prof Dr Jürgen Margraf and Prof Dr Silvia Schneider from Ruhr-Universität Bochum in a commentary published in the journal EMBO Molecular Medicine.
Effect of drugs are only short-lived
Margraf and Schneider have compiled ample evidence suggesting that anti-depressant, anti-anxiety and anti-ADHD drugs have only a short-term effect; if patients discontinue treatment, their symptoms return. The authors suspect that medication for the treatment of schizophrenia would yield similar results.
Long-term application of the drugs might even have a negative effect, for example increased risk of a chronic illness or higher relapse quota.
Psychotherapies are not available for many patients
According to the authors, psychotherapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy yield much better and more sustainable results in the long-term. 'The main problem with psychotherapy is not its effectiveness or costs,' says Silvia Schneider. 'Rather, it is its insufficient availability.' While psychotropic drugs can be applied straight away, patients often have to wait a long time for their first appointment with a therapist.
Biological concepts are insufficient
In their article, the psychologists from Bochum also discuss the question why better therapies are still non-existent, despite 60 years of dedicated research. According to their opinion, one reason might be the ill-advised notion that mental disorders can be explained by biological concepts alone.'"  The medication works for me although I have read from people who have a hard time when it does not work for them. I know the first time they put me on medication the psychiatrist was getting frustrated me cause he had to keep trying to get one that worked and it was and old medicine called Moban.
The article ends: "'Today, it has become standard to tell the patients and the public that mental disorders are caused by an imbalance in the neurotransmitter system,' elaborates Jürgen Margraf. However, it is not yet clear if that phenomenon is the cause or the effect of the diseases. Social factors should not be neglected. According to Schneider and Margraf, the rigid categories of 'ill' and 'healthy' are not helpful at all with regard to mental disorders, which manifest in many different forms.
Fewer psychotropic drugs, more psychotherapy
The authors postulate that it is necessary to link research into the biological, psychological and social factors and to broaden the narrow view of possible biological causes. Large pharmaceutical companies should reduce the marketing of psychotropic drugs. Moreover, patients should be given access to psychotherapeutic services more quickly.'"  I would not know if therapy on it's own would work when I was ill I was ill and I do not think any kind of talk therapy would have helped I could not concentrate on anything.

Friday, September 9, 2016

I'm 43 and schizophrenic. According to the statistics, I'll be dead in 17 years

That is the title of this article I am reviewing today. "'You’ve got a choice. You can either buy cigarettes, or get food to see you through the week. For most people it’s a no-brainer. Of course you’d buy food. But if you’re suffering from schizophrenia, living on the disability support pension and facing other psycho-social challenges, then the choice isn’t so clear. 'Some of my patients will choose cigarettes over food, my clinical specialist nurse told me. They also drink huge amounts of coffee. I’ve even seen people eating dried coffee from the tin.' So what’s going on here? I’m schizophrenic, and aside from dealing with the symptoms of the illness, there’s another statistic which I’m struggling to come to grips with. People with schizophrenia tend to live between 14 and 20 years less than the general community. 'With schizophrenia, my thoughts can be like pieces of a mismatched jigsaw puzzle'  Joshua Gliddon
I’m also 43. The average life expectancy for a non-Indigenous Australian male is around 80 years, a bit longer for women. I smoke, and weigh more than I should. According to the statistics, I’ve got about another 17 years left in me. That’s quite sobering." That is the truth when I smoked most of my social security check went on cigarettes and I was thin for that reason. Coffee I had to quit because I drank so much it affected the Moban I was taking and my symptoms would show up. For me coffee was harder to quit than cigarettes my body went through changes when I quit.  Now that I am on Geodon I can drink coffee again but I do not crave like before I only have two cups in the morning and that is enough for me now.
The article goes on to say: "Professor Amanda Baker, a senior researcher at the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) specialising in schizophrenia, told me there are a number of reasons why people with schizophrenia have reduced life expectancies. The big ones are poor lifestyle, unemployment and social isolation. She said that around 85% of people with schizophrenia smoke, compared with approximately 20% of the general population. One of the main reasons people smoke, she said, is that the medications used to treat the illness are often sedative and dulling, and so people use tobacco and caffeine heavily because they’re stimulants. The medications also have other side effects. For reasons that aren’t entirely clear, the anti-psychotics used to treat schizophrenia have a negative effect on metabolism. When I was first put on Olanzapine, a potent anti-psychotic, I put on about 25 kilos in a matter of months. I’ve moved onto a different medication since then, but it’s also weight unfriendly, and despite doing moderate exercise, I’ve never been able to shake the weight I gained. According to Baker, until recently there wasn’t a lot of attention paid to the physical health aspects of serious mental illness. Clinicians didn’t discourage patients from smoking because there was a pervasive attitude that you 'don’t upset the schizophrenics.'" When I quit smoking I put on a lot of weight I lost a lot by walking although the most recently lost was because of the three surgeries for lung cancer. I am trying not to put it back on again.
The article ends: "Not so long ago it was also OK to smoke in psychiatric institutions. Public facilities have clamped down on that, but smoking is still common in private hospitals.
Is there anything that can be done?  'People with schizophrenia are generally more dependent, and have less coping skills than the general population, and that makes it very hard for them to give up or make lifestyle changes,' Baker said. Brain’s immune cells hyperactive in schizophrenia New research links the onset of psychosis to the brain’s inflammatory response.  So the initiative needs to come from both patients and their care team. While psychiatrists in the past were only focused on medication and the mind, these days, said Baker, they are being encouraged to have a wider view of their patient’s health, both physical and mental. What needs to happen is a greater focus by clinicians on the overall wellbeing of their patients. Baker said this is finally occurring. 'Psychiatrists are being encouraged to look after the physical, as well as mental health of their patients, and that means addressing smoking, as well as diet and exercise,' she said. That’s a good start, but for the meantime, people with serious mental illnesses like schizophrenia will continue to die young. And that is a major downside of being sick.'" I know if they pass this new tax on cigarettes it is the mental ill that some just will not quit and use all their money to buy the cigarettes.  I know I used to be the same way.  I had  a reason to quit because I wanted my granddaughter to always come over my house.  My daughter did not want her around smoking.  Which I see now was good.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Smoking greatly reduces life expectancy for those with serious mental illness

That is the title of this article I am reviewing today. "'Smokers with serious mental illness have their lives cut short by about 15 years, compared with people who have never smoked and who do not have serious mental illness, research from the University of Michigan shows. They also die 10 years earlier than those with serious mental illness who have never smoked. This means smoking may account for nearly two thirds of the overall difference in life expectancy between individuals with serious mental illness who smoke, and never smokers in the general population, says Jamie Tam, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Health Management and Policy at the U-M School of Public Health, who conducted the study. 'Smoking reduces life expectancy for everyone but we tend to underestimate the importance of smoking for people with comorbidities,' Tam said. 'We know from existing research that people with mental illness live shorter lives, but what wasn't known is how much of that is due to their mental illness and how much is due to the fact that many of them are smokers.' About 42 percent of people with serious psychological distress are smokers, compared with the general population at less than 20 percent.'"  If most smokers are people with mental illness then with these new taxes what are they going to do.  I know when I smoked eighteen years ago I would spend most of my social security check on cigarettes and hardly any food.  I know others will probably do the same.
The article goes on to say: "To find out the contribution of smoking to reduced life expectancy among people with serious psychological distress, Tam and School of Public Health faculty members Kenneth Warner and Rafael Meza analyzed data from 328,000 individuals 25 years and older from the National Health Interview Survey gathered from 1997-2009. They linked it with the 2011 National Death Index. Tam said a disproportionate number of those with serious mental illnesses—including bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and major depression—live in poverty, as they are often unemployed and many face homelessness and social conditions that increase their likelihood of smoking and in turn their risk of other health conditions. Deaths by suicide and accidents also occur more frequently in this population. Among those with serious psychological distress, the researchers found that 47 percent of the deaths are due to the three leading health complications associated with smoking: heart disease, cancer and stroke."  I quit because my daughter told her mom that she would not let my granddaughter who was just born in a house that had smoke.  So I decided my granddaughter was more important than smoking.  I was smoking about one and half packs a day. I had to have at least three cigarettes every morning just to start my day.  I quit with wellabutrin. There were so many side effects that I did not have time to think about smoking and I wanted my granddaughter at my house that when a month had past my doctor gave me a refill although I did not use it because I just did not smoke and did not want the side effects that was eighteen years ago and I do not miss it.
The article ends: "'This highlights the need to prioritize preventive care, including smoking cessation programs, for people with mental illness,' said Meza, senior author of the study and assistant professor of epidemiology at the U-M School of Public Health. Many people with mental illness lack adequate health care—only 32 percent of those with serious psychological distress report seeing a mental health professional—and many don't get their physical health care needs met, Tam said.
'A large majority of people with mental illness don't access mental health care, and even when they do, other health concerns like smoking are not addressed,' she said. 'There have been calls to integrate smoking interventions into mental health care but these recommendations haven't been fully implemented.'"  They really need to have something that does  not have side effects for the people to quit.  I heard it is hard but with medicines you also need willpower or a good reason to quit. I had a reason and I just did not need the headache of the medicine that was supposed to help.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Changes in Specific Gene May Up Risk of Some Mental Illnesses

That is the title of this article I am reviewing today. "In a new study, brain scans reveal the disruption or mutation of a specific gene increases the risk of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and depression.
Investigators believe the genetic mutation affects the structure, function and chemistry of the brain. They believe the findings could help in the quest for new treatments.In the study, researchers led by the University of Edinburgh scanned the brains of people that have a specific genetic mutation that causes part of one chromosome to swap places with another. This is interesting in that the chromosome swaps places with another one.  All I know is that I hope before I die they find out why I have this disease.
The article goes on to say: "The mutation results in disruption of a gene called DISC1, which is associated with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and recurrent major depression. The team found that people with the genetic mutation had changes in the structure of their brain. These changes were linked with the severity of their symptoms of mental ill health. Investigators also showed that carriers of the mutation had lower levels of a neural signaling chemical called glutamate in certain areas of their brain. Reduced glutamate levels have been strongly linked with schizophrenia in previous studies. Researchers say their findings confirm that the DISC1 mutation is associated with a significantly increased risk of psychiatric illness. They just said it has to do with the severity of the symptoms.  Is that why there is serious mental illness and some people have less severe symptoms?
The article ends with: "'They hope that continuing to study people with the mutation will reveal new insights to the biological mechanisms that underpin these conditions. The DISC1 mutation was first identified in a Scottish family that showed unusually high rates of major psychiatric disorders. Scientists have been studying generations of the family for 40 years but this is the first time they have scanned their brains. The study appears in the journal Schizophrenia. Professor Stephen Lawrie, head of the Division of Psychiatry at the University of Edinburgh, said: 'This study confirms and extends the genetics of DISC1, and shows how that and similar genetic effects can increase the risk of major mental illnesses.'" I do not understand this genetics as no one else in my family has this disease and I do not wish it on them.  Even though I hold down a job.  I know other people with this disease do not fare as well as I do.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Exercise can tackle symptoms of schizophrenia

That is the title of this article I am reviewing today. "Aerobic exercise can significantly help people coping with the long-term mental health condition schizophrenia, according to a new study from University of Manchester researchers. Through combining data from 10 independent clinical trials with a total of 385 patients with schizophrenia, Joseph Firth found that around 12 weeks of aerobic exercise training can significant improve patients' brain functioning. The study by Firth, Dr Brendon Stubbs and Professor Alison Yung is published in Schizophrenia Bulletin, the world's leading journal on Schizophrenia and one of leading periodicals in Psychiatry. Schizophrenia's acute phase is typified by hallucinations and delusions, which are usually treatable with medication. However, most patients are still troubled with pervasive 'cognitive deficits'; including poor memory, impaired information processing and loss of concentration. The research showed that patients who are treated with aerobic exercise programs, such as treadmills and exercise bikes, in combination with their medication, will improve their overall brain functioning more than those treated with medications alone."  I have a treadmill where I live although it is always busy that is why I used to prefer to just take walks since I had the surgery for lung cancer I cannot walk so far in the summer.  I do not know if it because of the fires around or I am just going to have trouble walking.  I am going to try again this winter because I really need to walk not to lose weight because I lost enough with the surgery.  Just to exercise.
The article goes on to say: "'The areas which were most improved by exercising were patients' ability to understand social situations. their attention spans, and their 'working memory' - or how much information they can hold in mind at one time. There was also evidence among the studies that programs which used greater amounts of exercise, and those which were most successful for improving fitness, had the greatest effects on cognitive functioning. Joe Firth said: 'Cognitive deficits are one aspect of schizophrenia which is particularly problematic. 'They hinder recovery and impact negatively upon people's ability to function in work and social situations. Furthermore, current medications for schizophrenia do not treat the cognitive deficits of the disorder.'" It does not help memory but to understand social situations that is not enough for people they need help to hold down a job.
The article ends: "'We are searching for new ways to treat these aspects of the illness, and now research is increasingly suggesting that physical exercise can provide a solution.' He added: 'These findings present the first large-scale evidence supporting the use of physical exercise to treat the neurocognitive deficits associated with schizophrenia. 'Using exercise from the earliest stages of the illness could reduce the likelihood of long-term disability, and facilitate full, functional recovery for patients.'" I did not walk as much as I have these last few years although I have always walk as I do not drive.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Genes Tied to Smaller Brain Area in Those At Risk for Psychosis

That is the title of this article I am reviewing today. "Scientists in Switzerland have uncovered a link between certain genes and the size of important brain structures in individuals with a heightened risk of schizophrenia psychosis. The findings are published in the scientific journal Translational Psychiatry. Schizophrenia is a severely debilitating mental disorder characterized by hallucinations, delusions and cognitive decline. The condition has been linked to a variety of biological, social, and environmental factors as well as to changes in brain structure. For example, the hippocampus in the temporal lobe is usually smaller in people with schizophrenia compared to those without the disorder. Researchers have been unsure whether these changes to the brain structure are a result of the disorder and/or its prescribed medications, or whether these changes were already present before the onset of symptoms. For the study, a research team at the University of Basel examined the brain structures of individuals who were at risk of developing psychosis as well as those of patients who were experiencing the onset of psychotic symptoms for the first time."  I do not understand what they could have found because everyone with the schizophrenia have different ways the mental illness affects some are lower functioning some are higher functioning.
The article goes on to say: "Initially, scientists from the Adult Psychiatric Clinic of the University Psychiatric Clinics (UPK) and the Transfaculty Research Platform Molecular and Cognitive Neurosciences (MCN) observed no notable differences between the hippocampi of individuals at high risk and those of patients. Next, in collaboration with scientists from the Transfaculty Research Platform, the Basel researchers investigated whether any known schizophrenia risk genes were associated with the hippocampus structure. They did, in fact, find a connection. The researchers found that the greater the number of risk genes a person possessed, the smaller the volume of their hippocampus. This was true regardless of whether they were a high-risk study participant or a patient."  There have been other studies with the hippocampus  I wrote about them a couple of years ago.
The article ends: "'This discovery suggests that a group of risk genes is connected with a reduction in the size of a critical region of the brain before the disorder manifests itself. The findings offer a greater understanding of neurobiological factors contributing to schizophrenia. It is well-known that none of the wider risk factors (e.g. genes, environment, unfavorable social situation) can be used to predict the onset of psychosis in any specific person. However, the discovery may be of use for the treatment of schizophrenia. 'It is quite possible that individuals with smaller hippocampi will react differently to therapy compared to those with normally developed hippocampi,' said lead researcher Dr. Stefan Borgwardt of the Neuropsychiatry and Brain Imaging Unit. The scientists are planning more studies to further confirm the therapeutic potential of this new finding.'"  They do these studies but we get no answers.  Like I would like to know why I have this disease since it does not run in my family.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

How Exercise May Help the Brain Grow Stronger

That is the title of this article I am reviewing today. "Physical activity is good for our brains. A wealth of science supports that idea. But precisely how exercise alters and improves the brain remains somewhat mysterious. A new study with mice fills in one piece of that puzzle. It shows that, in rodents at least, strenuous exercise seems to beneficially change how certain genes work inside the brain. Though the study was in mice, and not people, there are encouraging hints that similar things may be going on inside our own skulls. For years, scientists have known that the brains of animals and people who regularly exercise are different than the brains of those who are sedentary. Experiments in animals show that, for instance, exercise induces the creation of many new cells in the hippocampus, which is a part of the brain essential for memory and learning, and also improves the survival of those fragile, newborn neurons. Researchers believe that exercise performs these feats at least in part by goosing the body’s production of a substance called brain-derived neurotrophic factor, or B.D.N.F., which is a protein that scientists sometimes refer to as “Miracle-Gro” for the brain. B.D.N.F. helps neurons to grow and remain vigorous and also strengthens the synapses that connect neurons, allowing the brain to function better. Low levels of B.D.N.F. have been associated with cognitive decline in both people and animals. Exercise increases levels of B.D.N.F. in brain tissue."  I used to exercise by taking walks before they took out my left lung.  I cannot do it now but am looking forward to the weather cooling down so I can try again.  I do not know if it is the hot weather or the fires that make it impossible for be to walk like I used to.
The article goes on to say: "But scientists have not understood just what it is about exercise that prompts the brain to start pumping out additional B.D.N.F. So for the new study, which was published this month in the journal eLIFE, researchers with New York University’s Langone Medical Center and other institutions decided to microscopically examine and reverse engineer the steps that lead to a surge in B.D.N.F. after exercise. They began by gathering healthy mice. Half of the animals were put into cages that contained running wheels. The others were housed without wheels. For a month, all of the animals were allowed to get on with their lives. Those living with wheels ran often, generally covering several miles a day, since mice like to run. The others remained sedentary.
After four weeks, the scientists looked at brain tissue from the hippocampus of both groups of animals, checking for B.D.N.F. levels. As expected, the levels were much higher in the brains of the runners. But then, to better understand why the runners had more B.D.N.F., the researchers turned to the particular gene in the animals’ DNA that is known to create B.D.N.F. For some reason, the scientists realized, this gene was more active among the animals that exercised than those that did not. Using sophisticated testing methods, the scientists soon learned why. In both groups of animals, the B.D.N.F. gene was partially covered with clusters of a particular type of molecule that binds to the gene, though in different amounts." Well I see exercise is beneficial for a person.  I used to pride myself on being able to walk all over town.  Maybe this winter I can again.
The article ends with: "In the sedentary mice, these molecules swarmed so densely over the gene that they blocked signals that tell the gene to turn on. As a result, the B.D.N.F. genes of the sedentary animals were relatively muted, pumping out little B.D.N.F. But among the runners, the molecular blockade was much less effective. The molecules couldn’t seem to cover and bind to the entire B.D.N.F. gene. So messages from the body continued to reach the gene and tell it to turn on and produce more B.D.N.F. Perhaps most remarkably, the researchers also found a particular substance in the runners’ brains that fended off the action of these obstructionist molecules. The runners’ brains contained high levels of ketones, which are a byproduct of the breakdown of fat. During strenuous exercise, the body relies in part on fat for fuel and winds up creating ketones, some of which migrate to the brain. (They are tiny enough to cross the blood-brain barrier.) The brain uses these ketones for fuel when blood sugar levels grow low. But it appears that ketones also cause the molecules that hinder the B.D.N.F. gene to loosen their grip, as the scientists realized when they experimentally added ketones to brain tissue from some of the mice. Afterward, their B.D.N.F. genes were not blocked by nearly as many of the bothersome molecules, and those genes could get on with the job of making B.D.N.F. None of this occurred in the brains of the sedentary mice. 'It’s incredible just how pervasive and complex the effects of exercise are on the brain,' said Moses Chao, a professor at the Skirball Institute of Biomolecular Medicine at N.Y.U. who oversaw the study. Whether the same mechanisms that occur in mice occur in our own brains when we exercise is still unknown. But, Dr. Chao pointed out, like the mice, we have more B.D.N.F. in our bodies after exercise. We also create ketones when we exercise, and those ketones are known to migrate to our brains. Generally, however, this process requires exerting yourself vigorously for an hour or more, after which time your body, having exhausted its stores of sugar, starts burning stored fat and making ketones. If an hour or more of intense exercise seems daunting — and it does to me — don’t despair. 'We are only starting to understand' the many ways in which exercise of any kind and amount is likely to alter our brains, Dr. Chao said. For now, he says, 'it’s a very good idea to just keep moving.'" Just keep moving anyway you can.  It all helps for the better.  I would not want to lose my memory or anything because I did not move around or walk.