Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Even when help is just a click away, stigma is still a roadblock

That is the title of this article I am reviewing today. "Stigma is a major barrier preventing people with mental health issues from getting the help they need. Even in a private and anonymous setting online, someone with greater self-stigma is less likely to take that first step to get information about mental health concerns and counseling, according to a new Iowa State University study. Daniel Lannin, lead author, psychology graduate student and clinical intern at ISU's Student Counseling Service, says self-stigma is a powerful obstacle to overcome. The study was designed specifically to measure how participants responded when given the opportunity to learn more online about mental health concerns and university counseling services. Of the 370 college students who participated in the study, only 8.7 percent clicked the link for mental health information and 9 percent sought counseling information. However, those numbers dropped to 2.2 percent and 3.5 percent respectively, among people with high self-stigma. 'It's not just the fear of seeing a counselor or therapist,' Lannin said. 'It's actually when people are sitting at home or on their phone. That stigma prevents them from even learning more information about depression or about counseling.'"Wow this has not been in the news for awhile now.  I've done a lot of posts about stigma.  It happened to me when I was first diagnosed and told people I had a mental illness.  It just does not come up for me because I have not had to tell anyone that I have a mental illness.
The article goes on to say:  "The results, published in the Journal of Counseling Psychology, illustrate the need for better stigma interventions, he said. Lannin is developing and testing different online interventions, but it's difficult because such efforts are often rejected. 'A lot of people with higher levels of stigma won't even entertain the possibility of a stigma intervention because they see the intervention as going to therapy to be more open to therapy,' Lannin said. 'It's like telling someone who doesn't like vegetables to eat some broccoli to get over it.' Lannin knows that interventions work. In a previous study, he found participants were more open to receiving help-seeking information after writing a brief essay about a personal value. He says the challenge is designing the intervention so it's not threatening to a person with greater stigma.
College is a time when mental illness is often diagnosed
One in five people struggle with mental illness, and many don't get help, Lannin said. Those who do wait an average of 11 years, before finally seeking treatment. Lannin says distressed students in the study were more likely to click the link for information (8.5 percent probability for those with high self-stigma, compared to 17.1 percent for those with low self-stigma). Distress is like the gas pedal and stigma the brake, he said. Unfortunately, by the time someone reaches a high level of distress, he or she is often struggling to function.'" The reason I do not tell anyone because it can exclude me from housing as it has it the past when I told the landlord I had  a mental illness. It happens with this blog if I were to make it public as I have done in the past they will not click on it.
The article ends: "'Identifying distressed students can be difficult because distress affects people in different ways. The main thing we notice is impairment in functioning across multiple spheres. They struggle with school work or with family relationships and friendships. If it gets bad enough, they might struggle with hygiene or start strongly contemplating suicide,' Lannin said. 'It's not just that they feel bad; it's that functionally they're impaired.' According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, three-quarters of all chronic mental illness begins by age 24. Lannin says for many young adults this is a time of transition -- going to college, working full-time and moving away from home -- adding to the reasons they may not seek help. This is another consideration when designing interventions and educational information, Lannin said. In the paper, Lannin and his colleagues suggested adding brief self-affirmation activities to websites frequented by at-risk populations, as well as links to additional mental health and treatment information. Self-affirmation interventions could also be incorporated into outreach events organized by university counseling centers.'" Suicide and mental illness a person does not understand what is happening to them and they feel suicide is the only way to stop what is happening.  I wrote about suicide in an earlier post.  I think the guilt of when a person commits suicide is the hardest thing because you realize if I had only said this or done this maybe that would have helped. Life is hard enough if without the guilt.  The latest suicide was my ex-wife on my moms birthday May sixteenth of last year.  It is hard to understand.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Unusual combo reduces health risk from atypical antipsychotic

That is the title of this article I  am reviewing today. "Atypical antipsychotics, though effective for treating disorders like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and depression, gives patients a heightened risk of developing new-onset diabetes. A new data mining study, however, has found a way to relieve this side effect. The study, published in Scientific Reports, shows that taking vitamin D ameliorates the risk of developing new-onset diabetes from atypical antipsychotics like quetiapine. The consequences of developing diabetes from taking antipsychotics are dire, as they occasionally cause life-threatening conditions and sometimes even death."Diabetes is no laughing matter.  I am diabetic only my is diet controlled and I walk for exercise.  Although I have not taken any medicine for it in five years it can always come back if I am not vigilant in what I eat.
The article goes on to say: "Members of Shuji Kaneko's lab at Kyoto University looked for potential antidotes on the US FDA's Adverse Event Reporting (FAERS) system, which is the largest database of self-reported adverse side effects. 'We found that patients who had coincidentally been prescribed vitamin D with quetiapine were less likely to have hyperglycaemia,' says Kaneko. 'It's unusual for vitamin D to be prescribed with quetiapine because it is typically prescribed to treat osteoporosis; in fact, there were only 1232 cases in the world where vitamin D was prescribed with quetiapine. Data mining proved helpful in locating these cases.' The team confirmed this finding with further tests on mice; the group of mice that was fed vitamin D along with quetiapine had significantly lower levels of blood sugar than those that took only quetiapine.'"  What also works to bring down blood sugar is cinnamon two five hundred pills in the morning with breakfast.  I have not tried it for a full three months yet because I was in the hospital and could not take it for awhile.  Yet when I did an A1C test my blood sugar was a 5.4 which is good because before It was 5.6 to close for me.
The article ends with: "'Interestingly, vitamin D on its own doesn't lower diabetes risk, but it certainly defends against the insulin-lowering effects of quetiapine,' elaborates lead author Takuya Nagashima. 'We clarified the molecular mechanisms of how quetiapine causes hyperglycaemia using datasets in a genomics data repository. Through this we found that quetiapine reduces the amount of a key enzyme called PI3K that gets produced. Vitamin D stops quetiapine from lowering PI3K production.'
Databases like FAERS aren't just for making drug regulations; they have so much potential for side-effect relief using pre-existing drugs,' says Kaneko. 'There's a lot we can hope for from reverse translational research like this'" Yes what ever works to help people because no one wants diabetes.  There are to many other things to worry about than diabetes.  To check your blood sugar everyday that was what was a total drag for me so I worked to not have to check and take medicine everyday beside what I always have to take which mostly a lot of supplements to make my life easier.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Brains of Healthy Sibs May Reveal New Clues to Schizophrenia

That is the title of this article I am reviewing today."Comparing the brains of schzophrenia patients to healthy siblings may reveal significant clues to the debilitating disease, according to a new study at Michigan State University. The research is the first to look at the neurotransmitters glutamate and gamma-aminobutyric acidergic (GABA) with a noninvasive imaging test called magnetic resonance spectroscopy in both schizophrenia patients and the healthy siblings of schizophrenia patients.
Glutamate promotes the firing of brain cells, and GABA inhibits this neural firing. They work hand in hand to regulate brain function. At this time, most schizophrenia drugs regulate dopamine, another neurotransmitter in the brain; however, these medications do not work for everyone. Many researchers believe there are multiple risk factors for the illness, including imbalances in both dopamine and glutamate/GABA, and this has been confirmed by several studies. However, the exact relationship has remained unclear. Currently there is no medication for schizophrenia that targets the glutamate/GABA system. In fact, medication for schizophrenia has changed very little in the past 50 years and remains somewhat limited in its effectiveness."Maybe they will come out with new medications that work for everyone who has this disease.  There are so many studies maybe one will help one of theses days.
The article goes on to say: "The study involved 21 patients with chronic schizophrenia, 23 healthy relatives (the relatives were siblings of other patients with schizophrenia, not the patients in the study) and a control group of 24 healthy subjects. It was performed in collaboration with researchers at the University Medical Center Utrecht in the Netherlands, where Thakkar served as a postdoctoral fellow. According to the findings, both schizophrenia patients and healthy relatives show reduced levels of glutamate. But while the patients also showed reduced levels of GABA, the relatives had normal amounts of the inhibitory neurotransmitter. This prompted the researchers to ask two questions: First, if glutamate is altered, why do these relatives not show symptoms of the illness? And, second, how did healthy relatives maintain normal levels of GABA even though they, like the patients, were genetically predisposed to schizophrenia and had altered glutamate levels?" I would say that the GABA is what causes schizophrenia maybe. Because it would seem the two go hand in hand in this study.
The article ends: "'This finding is what’s most exciting about our study,” said lead investigator Dr. Katharine Thakkar, Michigan State University assistant professor of clinical psychology. 'It hints at what kinds of things have to go wrong for someone to express this vulnerability toward schizophrenia.' 'The study gives us more specific clues into what kinds of systems we want to tackle when we’re developing new treatments for this very devastating illness.' The brain scan used in the study — which is conducted on a conventional MRI machine — could eventually help clinicians target more specific treatments. 'There are likely different causes of the different symptoms and possibly different mechanisms of the illness across individuals,' Thakkar said. 'In the future, as this imaging technique becomes more refined, it could conceivably be used to guide individual treatment recommendations. That is, this technique might indicate that one individual would benefit more from treatment A and another individual would benefit more from treatment B, when these different treatments have different mechanisms of action.'"That is what I say everyone is different so they would have different symptoms.  I still do not know if I will see treatments and what really causes this disease before I die.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Brains of Schizophrenia Patients May Be Reversing Effects of the Disease

That is the title of this article I am reviewing today. "The brains of patients with slchizophrenia may be trying to reorganize and fight the illness, according to a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) study conducted by an international team of scientists. This is the first time that imaging data has been used to show how our brains may have the ability to reverse the effects of schizophrenia. Although schizophrenia is generally associated with a widespread reduction in brain tissue volume, the new findings reveal a subtle and simultaneous increase in brain tissue in certain regions. The researchers followed 98 patients with schizophrenia and compared them to 83 patients without schizophrenia. Using MRI and a statistical approach called covariance analysis, the research team measured any increases in brain tissue. Due to the subtlety and the distributed nature of increase, this has not been demonstrated in patients until now."I would not know that last time I had a relapse was in 1994.  It was not as bad as the original illness that came on in 1988 although it was enough to send me back to the state hospital because it was worse each day.
The article goes on to say: "According to Lawson Health Research Institute’s Dr. Lena Palaniyappan, there is an overarching feeling that curing people with a severe mental illness, such as schizophrenia, is not possible. This stems from the long-held notion that schizophrenia is a degenerative illness, with the seeds of damage sown very early during the course of brain development. 'Even the state-of-art frontline treatments aim merely for a reduction rather than a reversal of the cognitive and functional deficits caused by the illness,' said Palaniyappan, medical director at the Prevention & Early Intervention Program for Psychoses (PEPP) at London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC). 'Our results highlight that despite the severity of tissue damage, the brain of a patient with schizophrenia is constantly attempting to reorganize itself, possibly to rescue itself or limit the damage,' said Palaniyappan.'" It makes me wonder about that psychiatrist who kept me without medication for six months or longer if I would have been so ill that I wonder if I started hearing voices for the first time at the state hospital.
The article ends: "The next step is to study the evolution of this brain tissue reorganization process by repeatedly scanning individual patients with early schizophrenia and to investigate the effect of this reorganization on their recovery. 'These findings are important not only because of their novelty and the rigour of the study, but because they point the way to the development of targeted treatments that potentially could better address some of the core pathology in schizophrenia,' said Dr. Jeffrey Reiss, Site Chief, Psychiatry, LHSC. The project is part of an international collaboration among scientists in Nottingham, UK, Shanghai and Changsha, People’s Republic of China, Robarts Research Institutes at Western University and Lawson Health Research Institute.'" Yeah it seems like they have to catch this disease early on to make this benefit if there is one.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Brain Structure Linked to Hallucinations

That is the title of this article I am reviewing today. "Scientists have uncovered differences in the brains of people with schizophrenia who do and do not have hallucinations. Dr. Jon Simons and colleagues at Cambridge University, UK, looked at structural MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans of 153 individual brains: 113 scans were from people with schizophrenia and 40 from similar participants without schizophrenia. Among the schizophrenia patients, 78 had a history of hallucinations and 34 did not. The team measured the length of the paracingulate sulcus (PCS), a fold toward the front of the brain, in each scan. This indicated a link between length of the PCS and the tendency to hallucinate. On average, the patients suffering hallucinations had a PCS that was about two centimeters shorter than those without hallucinations, and three centimeters shorter than the non-schizophrenic group. This suggests that a one centimeter reduction in the fold’s length is linked to a 20 percent rise in the chance of hallucinations. The association applied to both auditory and visual hallucinations. Dr. Simons explained that the team selected patients to put into each group such that those two groups were as directly comparable as possible. Factors such as age, sex, medication and even whether participants were left- or right-handed were all taken into account. 'So as close as we can get it,' Dr. Simons said, 'the only difference between those two groups is that one group experiences hallucinations and the other one doesn’t.' The team says this is consistent with an explanation based on “reality monitoring.” The PCS is thought to play a role in distinguishing self-generated information from that perceived in the outside world. Details are published in the journal Nature Communications. In scans of healthy people, Dr. Simons has previously found that variation in the length of the PCS was linked to reality monitoring. He says, 'Schizophrenia is a complex spectrum of conditions that is associated with many differences throughout the brain, so it can be difficult to make specific links between brain areas and the symptoms that are often observed.'" I heard voices I think after I was at the state hospital.  I had been left crazy since I was locked up because the psychiatrist did not  like me and would not help me.  I am not very sure if I heard voices or not.
The article goes on to say: "'By comparing brain structure in a large number of people diagnosed with schizophrenia with and without the experience of hallucinations, we have been able to identify a particular brain region that seems to be associated with a key symptom of the disorder.' Changes in other areas of the brain are likely also important in generating the complex phenomena of hallucinations, he adds. If further work shows that the difference can be detected before the onset of symptoms, it might be possible to offer extra support to people who face that elevated risk.
But hallucinations are just one of the main symptoms of schizophrenia, and patients are diagnosed on the basis of other irregular thought processes. Researcher Dr. Jane Garrison says the PCS is one of the last structural folds to develop in the brain before birth, and varies in size between individuals.
She adds, 'We think that the PCS is involved in brain networks that help us recognize information that has been generated ourselves. People with a shorter PCS seem less able to distinguish the origin of such information, and appear more likely to experience it as having been generated externally.
'Hallucinations are very complex phenomena that are a hallmark of mental illness and, in different forms, are also quite common across the general population. There is likely to be more than one explanation for why they arise, but this finding seems to help explain why some people experience things that are not actually real.'" I have never experienced nothing that is not real.  It would be hard for people that did not to know that what you are hearing or visualizing is not real.
The article ends with: "The team concludes that, 'To be able to pin such a key symptom to a relatively specific part of the brain is quite unusual.' Commenting on the work, Professor Stephen Lawrie of the University of Edinburgh, UK, states, 'There’s quite a strong literature showing that auditory hallucinations are related to dysfunction or structural disruption in language areas of the brain. 'I think the value of this is that it probably helps us think slightly more broadly about hallucinations in schizophrenia, in terms of it not just being about language areas of the brain, but involving a more distributed network of regions, and implicating, in particular, cognitive control or higher-order cognitive functioning.' Professor Lawrie has also studied brain structure in relation to schizophrenia and hallucinations. He says the form and content of hallucinations can vary considerably between patients and believes that different brain changes may reflect these different processes. His work has found indications for a role for the lateral temporal cortex in hallucinations. This type of investigation 'may have relevance for the understanding of the biological basis of the disorder,' he concludes.'" It does have relevance for people that have theses problems when they have this disorder to understand what happened to them.  I do wish that I would like to know why this happened to me and why at that age besides the stress I was going through the first time and second time it happened.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Lactose Intolerance May Shed Light On How Schizophrenia Develops

That is the title of the article I  am reviewing. "Researchers at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Canada have been studying the genetic underpinnings of lactose intolerance in order to gain a better understanding of the origins of certain severe mental disorders, such as schizophrenia. Although lactose intolerance and schizophrenia appear to have very little in common, the researchers explain two major similarities: First, both conditions are passed down genetically. And secondly, their symptoms never emerge during the first year of life, and in most cases, don’t appear until decades later. This slow development can be explained by a combination of genetics and epigenetics –factors that turn genes on or off, say the researchers. By studying the basic principles behind lactose intolerance, they can then be applied to the study of more complex mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or Alzheimer’s disease. All of these conditions feature DNA risk factors but take decades before clinical symptoms develop, said senior author Dr. Arturas Petronis, head of the Krembil Family Epigenetics Laboratory in the Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute at CAMH." The genes can be turned on or off.  That would explain why I received this disease when I was twenty seven.  It still was a shock for me and my friends everything was going great then all of sudden boom schizophrenia.
The article goes on to say: "More than 65 percent of adults worldwide are lactose intolerant, meaning they cannot process the milk sugar lactose. Lactose intolerance is influenced by a single gene, which determines whether an individual will lose the ability to process lactose over time. People with variants of this gene will gradually produce less lactase, the enzyme that breaks down lactose, as they age. 'The question we asked is why does this change happen over time? All newborns are able to digest lactose, independently from their genetic variation,' said Petronis. 'Now, we know that epigenetic factors accumulate at a very different pace in each person, depending on the genetic variants of the lactase gene.' Over time, these epigenetic changes build up and inactivate the lactase gene in some, but not all, individuals. At this point, people with the inactivated lactase gene would start noticing new symptoms of lactose intolerance.'" It is something like schizophrenia different people get it at different times in their life. Except they produce less lactase and in schizophrenia the gene is turned on to give you schizophrenia.
The article ends with: " Mental illnesses are far more complex than lactose intolerance and are linked to many more genes with their epigenetic surroundings. Even so, the same molecular mechanisms may account for the delayed age of onset of illnesses, such as schizophrenia, in early adulthood, Petronis said. The combination of genes and epigenetic factors that build up over time with age, provide a likely avenue to investigate in illnesses such as schizophrenia. 'We came up with interesting hypotheses, and possibly insights, into risk factors for brain disease by studying aging intestines,' says Petronis. Exploring the epigenetic control of the lactase gene involved a collaborative effort of CAMH, University of Toronto, the Hospital for Sick Children, Vilnius University, and the Lithuanian University of Health Sciences.'" What does aging intestines have to do with they should say is that just for lactose intolerance?  I sure would like an answer to that question. Maybe even more study is needed.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Marker for Poor Memory in Schizophrenia Patients Identified

That is the title of this article I am reviewing. "Possible key to understanding and treating cognitive symptoms of the disease.
A new study has identified a pattern of brain activity that may be a sign of memory problems in people with schizophrenia. The biomarker, which the researchers believe may be the first of its kind, is an important step toward understanding and treating one of the most devastating symptoms of schizophrenia. The study, led by researchers at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) and the New York State Psychiatric Institute (NYSPI), was published today in the journal Biological Psychiatry. While schizophrenia typically causes hallucinations and delusions, many people with the disorder also have cognitive deficits, including problems with short- and long-term memory.
'Of all the symptoms linked to schizophrenia, memory issues may have the greatest impact on quality of life, as they can make it difficult to hold down a job and maintain social relationships,' said first author Jared X. Van Snellenberg, PhD, assistant professor of clinical psychology (in psychiatry) at CUMC and research scientist in the division of translational imaging at NYSPI. 'Unfortunately, we know very little about the cause of these memory problems and have no way to treat them.'" I know memory is a problem for a lot of people with schizophrenia.  I have a good memory for numbers I can remember them.  Before this disease I did not have  a phone book all the numbers were in my head.  I did not lose that.  Although when I was in college studying math with my tutor he would he gets it but as soon as he walks out the door he does not remember a thing.
The article goes on to say: "Researchers have long hypothesized that memory problems in schizophrenia stem from disruptions in the brain’s dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC). This area of the brain plays a key role in working memory–the system for temporarily storing and managing information required to carry out complex cognitive tasks. However, previous studies, which used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to compare DLPFC activation in healthy individuals and those with schizophrenia while taking memory tests, have not shown clear differences.
Dr. Van Snellenberg hypothesized that the studies failed to detect a difference because the memory tests did not have enough levels of difficulty. In 2014 he and his colleagues designed a computerized test that includes eight levels of increasingly difficulty in a single working memory task." When my old boss had me doing brain training games I would get better each day.  It is repetition that worked. I have to keep repeating things if I want to make sure I remember them.
The article ends: "In the current study, 45 healthy controls and 51 schizophrenia patients, including 21 who were not taking antipsychotic medications, were given the eight-level memory test while undergoing fMRI imaging. As expected, the healthy controls demonstrated a gradual increase in DLPFC activation, followed by a gradual decrease in activation as the task gets harder. But in both medicated and unmedicated schizophrenia patients, the overall response was significantly weaker, with the weakest response occurring in those who had the most difficulty with the memory task.
The researchers believe this may be the first time a brain signal in DLPFC has been directly linked to working memory performance in patients with schizophrenia. 'Our findings provide evidence that the DLPFC is compromised in patients with schizophrenia,' said Dr. Van Snellenberg. 'What they don’t tell us is why, which is something we ultimately hope to figure out. In the meantime, we now have a specific target for treatment, and a new way to measure whether a treatment is working.'" Hopefully they can figure it out so that people with schizophrenia can work and do college.  That was my only problem in college I had to read things at least twice if not more to do tests and such.  I made it through even though it took a while to complete college.