Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Computerized Training to Help Schizophrenia Patients

I came across this article on the web. A new study conducted at the University of California-San Francisco alongside with San Francisco Medical Center. The study: “showed that patients with schizophrenia were better able to distinguish their own thoughts from reality after completing 80 hours of intense computerized cognitive training exercises.” It is different from the memory training DVDs I use. Although they are made by the same company called Posit Science Corporation. The people they used for the study were 31 with schizophrenia and a control group of 15 participants without a mental illness.
It interested me because I read about schizophrenics that have a hard time distinguishing from what is real and what is not. “The study assessed patients before and after a 16-week period. The study noted that those who completed 80 hours of intense computerized training within the time were better able to decipher between what was reality and what was not.” I can only remember when I relapsed from not enough medication is my system. It is hard to know what is real and not real.
I remember it being hard to ride the bus and even talking to people when you are like that you do not know if it is real or not. What this training is supposed to do is: “….. intended to increase activation in the medial prefrontal cortex, a key part of the brain.” It is part of the brain that controls decisions. Well sixteen of the schizophrenics received cognitive computer training. The other fifteen played computer games. Fifteen participants just went through MRI scanning with the 31 with schizophrenia.
The study found that: “Participants who received the computerized cognitive training were able to better determine reality than those who played computer games. As well, the MRI revealed those who had the computerized training also had increased activity in the medial prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain that controls decisions.” That is big news if you distinguish what is real and what is not. What it means: “Interestingly, greater activation within the medial prefrontal cortex was also linked with better social functioning six months after the training.” That mean you do not have to keep doing it over it sticks in there.
It would be nice to try if you are having some of the negative symptoms I talked about last week. I know a lot of schizophrenics would like to try and see it work.

Monday, March 19, 2012

A Brief Scenario of Homelessness

In Newark, New Jersey, a senator changed his appearance before his peers; he became a homeless man in disguise a man of years his present age. Why did he do this? to understand the conditions of shelters and boarding homes in the state of New Jersey when other reports stated otherwise and to continue to champion the otherwise homeless and mentally ill. This was his way of getting a firsthand look at the way the system works for the homeless, though I might say the system in New Jersey is not to be compared to the conditions of shelters and missions for the homeless in Colorado. I have been homeless in my life for several ongoing years before I was taken into the mental health system for a second time during these years, and I never once met with any of the absurdities as this senator had come to meet. Being homeless, I fared somewhat, sleeping in Missions and shelters, yet before I was made to realize there were such places for boarding and overnight and extended time staying periods, I slept literally in the streets, in vacant garages, homes which had been abandoned and parking lots. As I learned that there were such places as boarding homes, Missions, and shelters, I never once gave more than I had to in order to have a place to rest and bed myself, so as I looked at the situation in New Jersey, I began to wonder how heartless and disconcerting were the proprietors of these shelters and Missions in the Eastern Coast State of New Jersey. I might say that as there is homelessness, there is also drug addiction and alcoholism; there is also the mentally ill, the physically disabled, those who were released from jail, and there are families with children and migrant workers, searching for a place to rest and gather their wits about themselves when they can find rest and solace in any shelter or boarding home. The drug addicted, or the alcoholics often time find themselves waiting for shelter or not staying for very long in one because they carry their attitude of drugs and alcohol with them and this is understandable that they are not allowed to stay if they are belligerent or are using drugs on the premises. Families have first consideration because of children and this is understandable as well. Workers travelling from city to city, state to state usually stay in a shelter or boarding home long enough for the weather to clear, or they move on hearing of work further on down the road. The mentally ill and physically disabled are often hard to tend to if they have no outpatient clinic, because of their condition they are seeming the last ones in the book to be seen as having a place if they are displaying symptoms which cannot be understood or they are physically a burden to care for. God knows the prayers are there, and these people, the homeless are never waiting in anything but anguish, to feel the warmth, the shade, to know the taste of decent food, and to make sure their children as well as themselves are safe, till fortune smiles down on them and their life becomes changed again or until they find enough to travel further on into the world finding peace.
Written by Donald Sammons

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Premature Death

Last week I wrote about Mental Illness Premature Death. One of the reasons they die early death is because of Metabolic Syndrome. Metabolic syndrome: “is a name for a group of risk factors that occur together and increase the risk for coronary artery disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. Symptoms: Extra weight around your waist (central or abdominal obesity)”. A lot of the medication causes extra weight.
Pharmaceutical companies right now are not putting money into research for new and better medication that does not cause weight gain or even better medication to help with mental illness. I personally gain weight from Moban and older drug. Now that I am on Geodon I am losing weight through walking and exercise. There was another factor that also might have caused my weight gain. That was I quit smoking and yes food did taste better after I stopped. That is also factored in, although the medication played a role in my gaining weight.
I should have started exercising then although they did not put in exercise equipment in my previous place of residence until four years ago. My mental illness is Schizophrenia. I do not have some of the problems that some of my fellow suffers of this disease have. I am highly motivated and have been that way from the beginning of this disease. One of the reasons I read on the web is that I am a paranoid schizophrenic and they seem to have a better recovery rate.
One of the things that I read on the web is that a lot of schizophrenics have negative symptoms. These are symptoms that medication does not take away. Some of the symptoms are lack of motivation. How can you get off disability if you do not even have the motivation to look for a job? A lot do not know how to carry on a conversation with others. Their thoughts get jumbled. Or for some the voices did not stop with the medication and they might be trying to listen to you and the voices are saying something else. These negative symptoms really stop them from having a great life.
They try different remedies to try and stop these negative symptoms with no relief. Some say those remedies work. I can understand I would try anything to relieve those symptoms. Anxiety can’t sleep at night. That one bothered me to till I started working and now I do not have trouble falling asleep. I really feel for these people and just hope someday they will find something to help them.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Worry is another Matter

Worry is thinking that is stressful when taken too far. I worry a lot when I do not understand something said or not understanding how something will work or if it will work. It is not productive at all and when people worry, including myself the tendency is to go over and over the same thought without solving the problem. People tend to imagine stressful scenario’s about their problem and do nothing to release that stress.

Sometimes worry can be helpful, which means it can bring about an action to be taken to change the problem or solve it. If we worry about a test, we study harder, yet worry can become a problem which can lead anyone into anxiety or fear or a never-ending circle of thought; it can cause negative effects on the mind and body. It can cause stomach problems, headaches and tension; of the mind, you may not be able to focus on other objectives, thereby suffering from distress.

Worry is placed in a category called Generalized Anxiety Disorder or (GAD). It is diagnosed after 6 months or more of chronic worry and tension which is more intense than the normal anxiety people experience. People with this disorder worry about money, health, family and work, even though there are no signs of trouble in these realms. There are people with GAD who cannot relax their concerns and they also have problems sleeping. Some of these symptoms are much like the symptoms of depression, where worries accompany physical symptoms such as trembling, twitching, muscle tension, headaches, and anger. GAD affects children, adolescents and adults and is more common in women than men.

What is it that anyone person can do to ease the state of worrying is:
(1) Change your ideas from worrying about anything, find other more pleasant thoughts.
(2) Engage in physical and mental ways to relax.
(3) Write about what worries you; you can overcome the circle of repetitive thought.

Written by Donald Sammons

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Mental Health Premature Death

I have written about this subject in previous blogs. Here it is in the news again. This article about premature death and mental illness is a study done in the United Kingdom. This article say people with schizophrenia or bipolar have a substantially raised risk of premature death. They looked at death records from 1999 to 2006. They found that the mortality rate for patients with these types of mental illness was double the average for the population.
That is double the average of most people without mental illness. “For schizophrenics, the risk was raised by 60 percent in 1999, but more than twofold by 2006. For people with bipolar disorder, it was 30 percent higher in 1999, and ninety percent higher by 2006.” It seems it gets worse as the years go by. They say: “About three-quarters of all deaths were classed as natural causes. Circulatory disease and respiratory disease were the main components of this increase.” They say what they believe is the cause of these deaths. Now they have to find a way to stop the increase.
They say they need a better understanding of what causes this early death. “The team reviewed 37 studies based in 25 countries and found that most of the major causes of death were elevated in people with schizophrenia, and this has “worsened in recent decades.” It seems to affect men and women equally.” It affects people with schizophrenia and bipolar. They affect quite a number of people who fit those two mental illnesses. They do not think that people with schizophrenia have benefited from improvements in health outcome.
The article states: “They point out that several of the newer, second generation antipsychotic drugs can trigger metabolic syndrome, which is associated with a two- to threefold increase in death from cardiovascular disease and a twofold increase in deaths from all causes combined.” The medication has a little to do with it. They will keep studying, but they say it may take decades to find out if it is the weight gain caused by the medication. It is not very good news.

Monday, March 5, 2012

What’s a Decision all about?

What do we need to make the decisions we need to face in our daily lives? We hear about movements such as SDM—(Shared Decision Making), a working definition is not yet established.
Yet the process of decision making involves more than one person as they act as partners and this process is of sharing treatment decisions as consumer and health provider and the options of those decisions to be made. Have you learned anything yet? My guess is that as a consumer or client you haven’t got the process of making decisions down quite yet, and require more information. Well, the first thing you must know is that the human creature is always making decisions from birth to death, from sunrise to sunset; it’s a mental process (cognitive)—of knowledge—which is the result of the courses of action we must take which may have many alternative paths. But how do we make a decision?

Attitudes in life that exist can be good or bad, black or white, decisions are commonplace; easy to make. We make decisions by response to habits, or our experiences. It’s somewhat confusing when you’re choosing one absolute over another; the decisions have to be right or wrong in some way and sometimes there are no right decisions only other choices, other than those you may choose. People involved in Mental Health themselves tend to worry much about what to do; they:

(1) Want to be certain before they accept a decision
(2) Believe a decision is good because other people say it is
(3) The make emotional decisions because what is bad is good
(4) Have failed to learn from past mistakes, thereby blaming the failure of the
decision on “Fate” or “Karma” or just plain bad luck

Knowing that you should ask for advice is good, you should treat your decision as if it were a, b, c, not making a first choice is best and don’t treat the problem as if it were odds and evens, for a correct answer. If you are struggling for an answer, know that there are pros and cons to everything. Try not to decide for a certain length of time, a minute, a day even a months’ time, the facts will accumulate for you to weigh the pros and cons.

We make decisions all our lives and at times we don’t know if they are the right decisions, but we can still live with a good conscious. When the decision gets rough, you can trust your instincts, yet you must weigh the consequences, good or bad, right or wrong; though at best thinking too much on a decision can leave us no better off than having made one at all in a hurry. Have some common sense and:
(1) Trust your instincts
(2) Don’t give into temptation
(3) Be imaginative
(4) Know what makes sense to you not someone else
(5) Remember: we are all human!

Written by Donald Sammons