Thursday, January 28, 2016

Scientists Discover Genetic, Biologic Cause Of Schizophrenia

That is the title of this article I am reviewing today. "This links many previous findings about the disease and could lead to better treatments. Schizophrenia can present itself with any number of symptoms, from disorganized thinking or motor behavior, to hallucinations or delusions. Together these manifestations often leave a patient unable to function normally and with very few effective treatment options. And though researchers had not been able to figure out the underlying cause of the disease, they've learned a lot in the past few years—genetic mutations probably play a role, as does the immune system and the microbiome. Now scientists have identified a genetic variant in schizophrenic patients that links many of these previous observations, according to a study published today in Nature. If the researchers have in fact discovered the underlying biological cause for schizophrenia as they claim, it could lead to better treatments for the condition." This would be great news for those that will get this disease in the future.  Maybe with this better medicines for now and who knows for the future.
The article goes on to say: "'This study marks a crucial turning point in the fight against mental illness.' Over the past five years, the researchers have collected genetic data from 65,000 people in 30 countries. They knew that mutations in certain genes were linked to schizophrenia, but the researchers wanted to use their huge dataset to find the strongest correlation possible. And they found one—people with highly expressed variations of a gene called complement component 4 (C4) were much more likely to develop schizophrenia. They confirmed the connection between C4 genes and protein production by analyzing 700 samples of human brains. Scientists already knew that the C4 gene generates a protein that the body uses to mark pathogens so that the immune system destroys them. But, importantly, it’s also used during synaptic pruning, a period in adolescence in which the brain eliminates excess connections in order to strengthen the pathways it uses most often. Through experiments in animal models, the researchers found that greater C4 expression leads to more synaptic pruning."Well they have found the gene responsible.  Even though I did not develop full blown schizophrenia until I was twenty seven it was there in my early adult years and caused be to not be able to have a good marriage even though we both loved each other.  Because it was not spoken about back then.
The article ends" "People with highly expressed variations of a gene called complement component 4 (C4) were much more likely to develop schizophrenia. These C4 variants could lead to excessive synaptic pruning during adolescence, the researchers believe, which could make a patient more likely to develop schizophrenia. That might explain why schizophrenia symptoms start in the teens or early 20s, and why adults with schizophrenia have thinner cerebral cortices that contain fewer synapses. C4 also likely affects the immune system and the components of the microbiome in schizophrenic patients, though the exact relationship between C4 expression and immune variations is still unknown. Understanding the biological mechanism means that researchers could develop more effective treatments for schizophrenia, as the ones currently in use are largely designed to manage symptoms but not address the disease directly. If scientists could decrease the synaptic pruning during a patient’s adolescence, they might be able to reduce the severity of schizophrenia, or maybe prevent the disease altogether. "This study marks a crucial turning point in the fight against mental illness,' Bruce Cuthbert, the acting director of the National Institute of Mental Health and who was not involved in the research, said in a press release. "This study changes the game. Thanks to this genetic breakthrough we can finally see the potential for clinical tests, early detection, new treatments, and even prevention.'"The study changes the game.  That is the best news I think we can those of us who have this disease.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Heavy users of mental health care have substantially different patterns of health care use

That is the title of this article I am reviewing. "While a small number of people account for a disproportionately large portion of health services use, heavy users of mental health care have substantially different patterns of health care use than other heavy users of health care, according to new Canadian research. The study is one of the first to look at heavy users of mental health care specifically.While a small number of people account for a disproportionately large portion of health services use, heavy users of mental health care have substantially different patterns of health care use than other heavy users of health care, according to new research by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES).
The study published in the January issue of Health Affairs is one of the first to look at heavy users of mental health care specifically -- most studies to date have focused on all heavy users.
The study found the average cost of health services used by heavy users of mental health care was more than 30 per cent greater than for other heavy users of health care. Mental health services, including psychiatric hospitalizations and visits to a physician or a psychiatrist, made up the largest portion (about 88 per cent) of the total cost, and services not related to mental health accounted for the remaining 12 per cent."Maybe because they want us to have a primary care doctor and we need more health care because of smoking and other habits we do not  get rid of.
The article goes on to say: "Heavy users of mental health care have complex needs, and it's crucial to address their needs through an integrated, multidisciplinary approach,' says Dr. Claire de Oliveira, Scientist and Health Economist in Social and Epidemiological Research at CAMH, and lead author on the paper. Using administrative health care data collected by ICES, the researchers examined health care use by people defined as heavy users based on the costs of the services they used -- also referred to as high-cost users. The study looked at nearly one million high-cost health care users age 18 years or older in Ontario in 2012. Five per cent -- 51,457 people -- were considered to be high-cost mental health care users, defined as people for whom costs for mental health services were at least 50 per cent of their total health care costs. Understanding which services they use can point to where improvements might occur, both in the delivery of services and in individuals' wellbeing.
Different population characteristics, and high rates of hospitalization
Heavy users of mental health care were younger relative to other high-cost users, and most came from lower-income urban neighbourhoods. People age 18 to 49 made up 58 per cent of heavy users of mental health care and only 24 per cent of other high-cost users. Heavy users of mental health care also tended to be more evenly split among men and women -- 49 per cent were males and 51 per cent were females -- versus other heavy users (42 per cent males and 58 per cent females). Other high-cost users were more likely to have chronic diseases, primarily circulatory and digestive illnesses." Why the chronic diseases?  Does mental Illness cause us to get sicker than the rest of the population."
The article ends with: "About 64 per cent of heavy users of mental health care had at least one psychiatric hospitalization in 2012. More than 90 per cent had at least one visit to a doctor for mental health care and one or more visits for other health care. The researchers note that other studies have shown that people who have psychiatric hospitalizations, particularly people with severe mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, have high rates of hospital readmission and low rates of physician visits after they are discharged from a psychiatric hospital stay. 'Our research shows that heavy users of mental health care have substantially different patterns of health care use than other high-costs health care users, representing a different patient population,' says Dr. de Oliveira. 'Their needs must be considered separately when looking to improve the quality of care for heavy users of health care in general.'
Opportunity for early prevention
As a next step, the researchers are developing a predictive model to identify mental health care users at highest risk of future hospitalization. 'If we can identify individuals at risk before they become high-cost users of mental health care, this may present an opportunity to provide earlier preventive health care and social services, such as high-support housing units,' says Dr. de Oliveira." I for one do not know why people do not take their medication and avoid the emergency rooms.  I for one would have to be dying before I would ever use the emergency room it cost to much. If people would take care of themselves there would never have to use an emergency room. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

There is always room for Hope

That is the title of this blog I am writing about sometimes life can throw you a curve and bring you to your knees. I am going through something myself right now with my left lung.  It can make me have lung infections and walking pneumonia.  It makes doing things hard that used to me easy to me. I think the hardest thing is not knowing what I have because the doctor's will tell me it is find than there is the but.  It turns out the it goes in the opposite direction than what they said. Like this week on Monday again he gave me it will go well but.  Until we know exactly  have it in our hands we do not know.  This waiting and I still have to wait a month before I really know.  That is the hardest part when do I get to be normal again?  I have hope and am optimistic that it will turn out right and I can go back to normal.
Some people with our disease have it worse when a problem occurs be it a death or something else. I read about a person who a loved one died and they had a job and apartment.  They were doing well for themselves.  Than that loved on died and they relapsed and lost the apartment.  The were lucky to be able to put the job on hold.  They had to start living in a group home again. I have lived in a group home and that would be the worse thing that could ever happen again.  The good news is his AA worked for him and he did not relapse. He had friend that stuck with him and now he is getting back and taking the group home in stride.
He says I do not need to cook anymore so I save money.  He started back to work and is taking things one day at a time. He still thinks about the person who dies but is thinking more positive now.  That is why we always need hope that things will return to normal or things will be better than before. I am sure when I am through with my struggles that I can look back and say life is hard but it gets better.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Fish oil could help prevent mental health problems in those most at risk

That is the title of this article I am reviewing today. "The results of a small study appear to show that a three month course of daily fish oil capsules could reduce the rate of psychotic disorders in young people. Eating more fish or taking regular fish oil supplements may help prevent psychosis in those most at risk, researchers claim.  A three month course of daily fish oil capsules appeared to significantly reduce the rate of psychotic disorders in young people, an improvement that seemed to persist when doctors assessed their mental health seven years later.  But while the findings are intriguing, they come from a very small study of teenagers and young adults. The benefits must now be shown in a much larger group before doctors can make any recommendations about the use of fish oils to prevent mental health problems.  Paul Amminger at the University of Melbourne reported in 2010 that a three month course of daily fish oil capsules appeared to stave off psychotic illnesses in teenagers and young adults aged 13 to 24 deemed at high risk of developing the disorders. Seven years on, his group has now revisited 71 of the original 81 participants and shown that the protective effects seem to persist.  Writing in the journalNature Communications. the scientists report that 4 out of 41 of those who took fish oil for three months had developed psychosis in the seven years since, compared with 16 out of 40 who received a placebo capsule during the trial."If they can stave off mental illness in young people I am all for it. I take it for my eyes because I have dry eyes.  Other than that I feel no difference.
The article goes on to say: "Those on the placebo wing of the trial appeared to develop psychosis more quickly than those taking fish oils, and had an overall greater likelihood of having other psychiatric disorders, the study found. Schizophrenia is one of the most common serious mental health conditions. One in 100 people in Britain experience symptoms, such as delusions, visual or auditory hallucinations, in their lifetimes, and many continue to lead normal lives. It is most often diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 35. It is called a psychotic illness, and those affected sometimes cannot distinguish between their thoughts and reality.  'Schizophrenia is a major cause of disability, but early treatment has been linked to better outcomes. Our study gives hope that there may be alternatives to antipsychotic medication,' Amminger told the Guardian. He believes that omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) could be a stigma-free and long-term way to prevent psychosis in young people who are most at risk, with minimal side effects. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for healthy brain development and function, and a lack of them in the diet has been linked to various mental health conditions. 'Eating more fish is not only likely to be good for your physical health but also for your mental health,' Amminger said. In 2006, scientists working for the Cochrane collaboration reviewed the published research on the potential for fish oils to prevent schizophrenia and declared the results inconclusive. They went on to call for larger studies with more patients. Amminger agreed that his latest findings need to be replicated in larger groups of people before any firm guidance can be given." If they can find something without all the side effects it would be great. I also take two five hundred cinnamon capsules with breakfast that help keep my diabetes number down so I do not have to take medication.  My AC1 numbers before taking it were 5.5 now and I did not take it the whole three months are 5.4
The article ends with: "Clive Adams, co-ordinating editor of the Cochrane Schizophrenia Group at Nottingham University said the study needed to be considered alongside other published trials on the effects of omega-3 oils, but added that it was a springboard for new trials on the treatments. “The road of treatment of people with schizophrenia is paved with many good intentions and false dawns. This study is important, undertaken by leaders in the field, but it does not provide strong enough proof to really change practice,” he said." It sounds good but can they use it to make other psychotic medication?

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Brain game 'improves lives of schizophrenia patients'

That is the title of this short blog I am reviewing today. "A computer-based brain-training game could improve the daily lives of people with schizophrenia, say University of Cambridge researchers.
Tests on a small number of patients who played the game over four weeks found improvements in memory and learning. This could help people to get back to work or studying after a diagnosis.
Schizophrenia is a mental health condition that causes a range of psychological symptoms, from behaviour changes to hallucinations. Many patients also experience cognition problems, which affect their memory and ability to function independently. Designed and developed by researchers at Cambridge with the help of patients, the brain-training game has a wizard theme with various levels of difficulty. It asks players to enter rooms, find items in boxes and remember where they put them, testing their so-called episodic memory." I know the one I tried years ago did improve my memory.  Although when my boss left the company and we switched computers I lost that training.
The article ends with: "Better-equipped
Prof Barbara Sahakian, from the department of psychiatry at the University of Cambridge and who researched the impact of the game, said patients who played it made significantly fewer errors in tests afterwards on their memory and brain functioning. She said this was an indication that they were better prepared to function in the real world. Prof Sahakian said treating the cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia was important, but slow progress was being made towards developing a drug treatment. She added that the memory game could help where drugs had so far failed - with no side-effects. 'Because the game is interesting, even those patients with a general lack of motivation are spurred on to continue the training.' The game is available as an app that anyone can play.
Although the results are promising, the research team said more research was needed on larger groups of patients to confirm the findings. The researchers added that any memory training games had to be used in conjunction with medication and psychological therapies." That would be the important part wanting to continue to use the game.  A co-worker who also did it with me said it is just remembering and did not like doing it every morning. To me it was a challenge to see how far I could go on the game and how high my score was.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015


That is the topic of today's blog. It is something that we all have to have especially in times of trouble. I have been going through a health crisis for me.  I know that it is hard to keep hope alive when everything seems bad. I have not been able to take my walks or do the things I normally like to do.  That is hard on me as you know if you read my blogs. The trouble I have had is because of my lungs first they diagnosed me with bronchitis and then walking pneumonia.  Then they had to take a lot of tests and whatever was in my lungs was causing me not to breathe as good as normal.
It really took a lot out of me. Yesterday I had a biopsy and they have not found the results yet but they have took enough that I feel better. Finally the doctor sounded Optimistic.  That is great news for me.  You have to keep hope alive.  I just kept picturing all the hard times I had been through before and how I had overcome them.  One of those things was at one time in my life I was facing twenty four years in prison.  I was very upset on ones of those court days that  a friend that I had knew was serving me lunch and I did not recognize her because my head was not in the present. If I would have knew the outcome of the case I would not have been so worried and would have talked to her because she was a good friend. On that case I was acquitted of one charge and lost on the second because the Judge would not give me the law. I later appealed and of course won because everyone is entitled to the law whether if the Judge likes them or not.  Sometimes a person does not always get the answer they want right away.  You have to keep hope that you will sooner or later get the answer or whatever you need. Just keep your head high and stop feeling like there is no hope because there is.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Major New Study Rewrites the Nature v. Nurture Debate About Schizophrenia

That is the title of this article I am reviewing today. " The Lieber Institute for Brain Development (LIBD) released today the results of a study that shed new insights on the nature versus nurture interplay in schizophrenia. Findings from one of the largest studies of postmortem human brain tissue suggest that environmental influences during the prenatal period cause brain changes associated with schizophrenia, but that environmental influences in early adulthood, when symptoms of the illness typically emerge, may not be as important as originally thought. The study and its relevant findings were published today in Nature Neuroscience. The published paper, titled “Mapping DNA methylation across development, genotype and schizophrenia in the human frontal cortex,” can be found online here. Findings outlined in the paper shed new light on the potential role of environmental influences on an individual’s risk of developing schizophrenia. The role of the environment in causing schizophrenia is a hotly debated topic, with many theories focusing on the stressful environment around the early adult period that typically heralds the onset of clinical symptoms of schizophrenia. In the study, results suggest that the prenatal period, not early adulthood, is when environmental influences cause brain changes involving DNA methylation that are associated with a greater risk of schizophrenia."This is very interesting and changes a lot of the thinking that environment is what causes this when you are reaching adulthood. A lot of changes could have happened when a person mother was pregnant.
The article goes on to say: "The environment can affect human biology, e.g. how your brain responds to experience, or how your body responds to exercise, by influencing the mechanisms that turn genes on and off. One of these mechanisms is called “epigenetics,” which involves changes in the chemical structure of DNA without changes in the inherited genetic code itself. DNA methylation is an epigenetic change that signals an environmental effect. Study investigators analyzed the brain tissue of 526 subjects, including 191 individuals with schizophrenia and 335 normal subjects, to determine how DNA methylation changes in the transition from prenatal to postnatal life and how it changes during early adult life. These time periods both involve profound environmental changes, both biological and experiential. These periods also involve major changes in DNA methylation.
Unexpectedly, investigators found that changes in DNA methylation that are associated with schizophrenia and observable in the brain tissue of patients with the illness had no observable relationship to the environmental effects that might have played on the brain at the time when individuals first require treatment in early adult life – for example, when they first seem to manifest the illness. Instead, the changes were strongly linked to the early development period. “This is the first time we have been able to take a molecular snapshot of when the environment affects the brains of patients with schizophrenia,” said Andrew Jaffe, Ph.D., the study’s lead investigator." If your mother was sick with the flu or any changes could have happened.  That a person does not remember.
The article ends: "The results suggest that the epigenetic changes that leave a lasting mark in the brains of patients with schizophrenia harken back to early brain development – long before the first symptoms of the illness are recognized. In other words, the building of the brain early in life is key to understanding schizophrenia, and the events around the apparent onset of the illness “may be a red herring,” said Dr. Jaffe. 'This conclusion, while perhaps not the final verdict on the subject, is hard to resist given this remarkable evidence,' said Daniel R. Weinberger, M.D., director and CEO of the Lieber Institute for Brain Development and co-leader of the research team with Joel Kleinman, M.D., Ph.D., the Lieber Institute’s associate director of clinical sciences. 'These results have potentially far-reaching implications for how we understand schizophrenia, how we develop experimental models of this illness in scientific laboratories, how we search for new ways to prevent the disorder from happening, and how we treat it once it does.'
About the Lieber Institute for Brain Development
The mission of the Lieber Institute for Brain Development and the Maltz Research Laboratories is to translate the understanding of basic genetic and molecular mechanisms of schizophrenia and related developmental brain disorders into clinical advances that change the lives of affected individuals. LIBD is an independent, not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization and a Maryland tax-exempt medical research institute affiliated with the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine." They do say this might not be the final word on this. It does make sense though would be glad when the final word about this comes out.