Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Could Stem Cell Transplant ‘fix’ Schizophrenia?

This article says that maybe in the future. “Experimental work on rats suggests transplanting stem cells could be a permanent cure for schizophrenia, University of Texas researchers say.”  I know myself and a lot of people with schizophrenia would love it if this actually works.  It would be a permanent cure.  Would not have to take pills every day and worry about your weight or whatever else these pills do to a person. It makes a person wonder how the future might look if schizophrenia was cured.
The article goes on to say: “In a study released Monday, a team at the Health Science Center in San Antonio said cells removed from rat fetuses and injected into the hippocampus of adult rats restored normal functioning.  Schizophrenics lack cells called ‘interneurons’ that govern the dopamine system and the hippocampus, which plays an important function in learning, memory and executive functioning such as decision-making.” Well they haven’t tried it out on humans yet so we will have to wait and see.  Although it would be real nice if it worked and I know everyone is waiting to see if it does.
The scientist say: “Daniel Lodge, an assistant professor of pharmacology in the medical school, said current treatment for schizophrenia, including medication and deep-brain stimulation, works only temporarily.  In rats, the cell transplantation appears to work a permanent cure.”  One day we will figure out how the brain works and maybe the future is getting closer than we think.  All I ever took for my schizophrenia is medication. If this does work will there still be stigma for mental illness that is the only thing I hate in having this disease is the stigma.
How would they do this? “You can essentially fix the problem, Lodge said.  Ultimately, if this is translated to humans, we want to reprogram a patient’s own cells and use them.  Stephanie Perez, a graduate student in Lodge’s lab and lead author of a paper on the research using cell transplants to restore motor deficits.”  They would use your own cells.  If this works we have to acknowledge that someone thought of this idea and maybe it will work.  It would be nice if this works.  Would it work for other mental illnesses?  There are still so many unanswered questions about this.  We will just have to wait and see what comes of this study.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

How Schizophrenia Affects the Brain

That’s the title of this article that I am writing about for this blog.  This is well studied article that starts off: “It’s hard to fully understand a mental disease like schizophrenia without peering into the human brain.  Now, a study by University of Iowa psychiatry professor Nancy Andreasen uses brain scans to document how schizophrenia impacts brain tissue as well as the effects of anti-psychotic drugs on those who have relapses.”  I only had a relapse once when my medication was to low that was a hard time because I had just started college and had to miss a week.  I had to change my Spanish class because he only allowed three missed days and I had already missed three.
How did they do this study? “Andreasen’s study, published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, documented brain changes in MRI scans from more than 200 patients beginning with their first episode and continuing with scans at regular intervals for up to 15 years.  The study is considered the largest longitudinal, brain-scan data set ever compiled, Andreasen says.  Schizophrenia affects roughly 3.5 million people, or about one percent of the U.S. population according to the National Institutes of Health.  Globally, some 24 million are affected, according to the World Health Organization.  That is a lot of people that have schizophrenia. She did this study for fifteen years.  That should have told a lot about the brain.
What did this study find? “The scans showed that people at their first episode had less brain tissue than healthy individuals.  The findings suggest that those who have schizophrenia are being affected by something before they show outward signs of the disease.  There are several studies, mine included, that show people with schizophrenia have smaller-than-average cranial size, explains Andreasen, whose appointment is in the Carver College of Medicine.  Since cranial development is completed within the first few years of life, there may be some aspect of earliest development—perhaps things such as pregnancy complications or exposure to viruses – that on the average, affected people with schizophrenia.  Andreasen’s team learned from the brain scans that those affected with schizophrenia suffered the most brain tissue loss in the two years after the first episode, but then the damage curiously plateaued—to the group’s surprise.  The findings may help doctors identify the most effective time periods to prevent tissue loss and other negative effects of the illness, Andreasen says.”  It is a drag not knowing why and how this happens.  All of us with schizophrenia would like solid answers.
The study also found: “The researchers also analyzed the effect of medication on the brain tissue.  Although results were not the same for every patient, the group found that in general, the higher the antipsychotic medication doses, the greater the loss of brain tissue.  This was a very upsetting finding, Andreasen says.  We spent a couple of years analyzing the data more or less hoping we had made a mistake.  But in the end, it was a solid finding that wasn’t going away, so we decided to go ahead and publish it.  The impact is painful because psychiatrists, patients, and family members don’t know how to interpret this finding.  Should we stop using antipsychotic medication? Should we be using less?”  It is hard not to take your medication because it makes a person almost normal.  I know when I was in jail for those months being psychotic just because the psychiatrist did not like me and told me that and would not put me on medication.  That was hard being punished because I was not liked.  At least the jail guard understood my position and helped me out. 
The study also studied relapses: “The group also examined how relapses could affect brain tissue, including whether long periods of psychosis could be toxic to the brain.  The results suggest that longer relapses were associated with brain tissue loss. The insight could change how physicians use antipsychotic drugs to treat schizophrenia, with the view that those with the disorder can lead productive lives with the right balance of care.  We used to have hundreds of thousands of people chronically hospitalized. Now, most are living in the community, and this is thanks, to the medications we have, Andreasen notes.  But antipsychotic treatment has a negative impact on the brain, so we must get the word out that they have fewer side effects than some of the other medications we use, they are certainly not trouble free and can have a lifelong consequences for the health and happiness of the people and families we serve.”  I could not live without my medication. I’ve been there.  Hopefully they put more into research for the future people who get schizophrenia so they can also lead productive lives and have medication that does not harm them.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Worry or Anxiety

If you are feeling anxious when facing any kind of situation in which you feel challenged which could be any sort of interview, a school test or even a date and your worries seem to be overwhelming, you may be suffering from an anxiety disorder.  There are different types of anxiety disorders and there are many treatments including medication, and self help treatments.  When understanding the type of anxiety you are suffering from, you can find the steps to overcome your symptoms and once again control your life.
I have been living with worry for the past two months because of an ignorant mistake I made at work.  Not only have I been worried, my responsibilities have slackened and the fear factor of my maintaining my position at work just will not alleviate itself.  I keep thinking the worst of the situation and I noticed I turn corners and refrain from eye contact when approached.  In short I am losing sleep because of a mistake I made.  I can’t sum this up to be a panic attack, or that I am suffering from anxiety, yet many people do worry and cannot find the conscious time to consult a therapist or other professional to sort matters out. 
Anxiety disorders are a group of conditions not just a single disorder and can be different from person to person who may suffer from anxiety.  Suffering from anxiety disorder for one person may be intense, striking without warning, another person may panic at a simple gathering or someone else may struggle with the fear of walking alone at night or have uncontrollable thoughts.  Fear and worry are symptoms shared in anxiety disorders and along with fear there are others known as emotional symptoms of which you may find eight different kinds of emotional symptoms.  There are physical symptoms which a person suffering from an anxiety disorder may mistake as a medical illness.
What can you do to see yourself through anxiety?  Write down your thoughts, your worries mainly.  Create a time where you can concentrate on your anxiety, focusing on the negative aspects, then writing them down and learning to accept uncertainty and not think of immediate solutions.  Practice relaxation techniques with deep breathing which can alleviate your anxiety symptoms and help you relax and find well being.  Don’t drink or use drugs or smoke tobacco products, these add to more anxiety.  Exercise and get good rest, a lack of sleep can cause anxious thoughts or feelings
Written by Donald S  

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Mental Illness

I am pretty lucky as I read what others with schizophrenia go through.  My symptoms do not bother me.  I would know because they used to bother me when I drank coffee on Moban.  I had to stop drinking coffee and I really loved it.  Now that I am on Geodon I can drink coffee although I do not drink it like I used to.  Now I drink two cups and that is enough for me.  If I could of did that on the Moban I would have not had to quit.  Although back then I could not stop at two cups.  That is not the only difference.
You cannot tell that I have a mental illness because I work eight hours a day.  It does not bother me in the slightest way.  I do not have symptoms in which my mind is racing or any other ones that usually people with schizophrenia have that prevent them from working and interacting with people.  Taking medication is not a problem either.  That is one thing that I can thank the state hospital in teaching us to always take our medicine.  Also on schedule and now I only have to take it once a day.  It is usually taken with my meal or if I would like to stay up later as it makes me sleepy a couple of hours after I take it.
If I want to stay up or I am visiting someone and do not take it with my dinner.  I can always take it with a banana or yogurt.  This illness does not really bother me.  It is just the stigma that does.  People find out you have a mental illness and they treat you different.  That gets me angry.  How do they know that I am inferior without knowing my life and how I handle myself and deal with everyday life? This is kind of an invisible disease unless you act out or talk to yourself and a lot of people do that are not mentally ill no one would know that you have this disease.
I do not like the symptoms of mental illness that is why I always watch myself and make sure I take my medicine.  I have taken care of my grandchildren since they were little babies.  Now that they are older they do not come over but once a month.  I miss having them every weekend but they are growing up and do things with kids their own age now.  I never talk to them about my mental illness although I am sure they know about it.  Although I have never shown them symptoms of mental illness and hope they never have to deal with this disease.
No one knows where this disease started with me or anyone else.  No one in my family had this disease before.  I do know the alcohol and drugs I did had something to do with it.  If I can keep my grandchildren away from drugs then I have confidence that this will not happen to them.  They are good kids and smart.

Monday, September 9, 2013

When am I Real

I have been dreaming of being a purposeful individual not only in the work place, yet also at home.  What I am meaning is that I want to see myself as useful and responsible at the same time, without failure being by my side.  This at times is hard to conceive, having a dual diagnosis while struggling to maintain sobriety.  I was asked just recently by someone that I know, if I heard voices?  This question about my mental illness threw me for a loop I then ceased thinking about work, confusion began to rear its head and I began to think negative thoughts about myself.  I thought will I begin to become judged because I have symptoms which may show themselves, am I not being quote “normal” or will I be shunned because people are seeing me as a mentally ill employee.  It’s strange what the human mind conceives of itself when you feel fear or jeopardy towards your wellbeing, only time can answer when you seek answers from the right people.  I work for a mental health center, so I should understand about how my symptoms affect those I work with and those I associate with outside of the work place.  I mentioned, fear as one of my symptoms, which is easy to associate with paranoia; and being such close relatives, both fear and paranoia, I have to walk quietly and pay attention to what is going on through my mind so as not to embarrass myself or others I may be feeling fearful of.  I have to deal with internal dialogue “which comes from the dialogical self, which is a description of the minds ability to imagine different places of participants in an internal dialogue.  There are two concepts self and dialogue which extend to self conflicts, self criticism, self agreements and self consultancy.”
 I talked to myself within, I talked to myself out loud, at a whisper mind you and I spend time at night verbalizing in silence, or writing to keep the barrier of other voices which once plagued me years ago.  I have had to overcome to affectation of voices I would hear at night, and the mixed messages which caused me to see myself as not an positive person; yet I had to realize this problem I was having on my own.  Associating with fellow employees or loved ones with such problems besetting the mind can be upsetting, so dealing with the problem alone was one way, understanding my therapist and realizing fear is not paranoia, and that internal dialogue is not disastrous and can be helpful is a step in the right direction in overcoming the hallucinations of speech and responding to speech which does not exist.  In all, knowing one plus one helps, knowing also that there is someone with whom you can confide in is a plus also when you are not visiting your therapist and going over the fine points of the problems you may be suffering from. 
Written by Donald S.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013


That is what this disease is called.  When I first was told that I had schizophrenia I did not even know what it that word meant.  I was confused first from coming from my delusion and not knowing where I was at.  I was at the state hospital in Pueblo.  They gave me Haldol and that helped but it also cramped my face up.  They had to discontinue it.  They sent me to another ward where I was told there were people like my there.  There were but I was still in psychosis.  Until they gave me stelazine in which it made my arms shake.
Although I started coming out of the delusions and wondering where I was at and not understanding that the Judge had said one day to life.  I was wondering how I had got myself it to this mess.  Trying to understand what the other people there were saying and not knowing that my case was different than some of them.  They moved me again.  This ward was better but I still did not understand that I had a mental illness and what it meant.  I talked the psychiatrist into taking me off the medication because it made my arms and hands shake.
It took about two months and they moved me again and I was on this ward for about a week when someone died.  If only I would have understood the night I talked to him what he was saying and why I would have talked to him and told him it was not bad and how to take care of those that were bothering him.  You do not know what is going through someone’s mind.  I have since found out that I knew this guy’s uncle and met his dad where I used to live.  I still talk as if I came from Pueblo.  Even though I grew up in Denver because that was the last place I lived and when I came back  I did not talk to my old friends and so I still talk like the last place I was at.
I had a psychotic episode well I was at this ward and that finally made me understand that I had a mental illness and instead of it being bad I could use this to change my life around.  I had already seen people there who did not follow rules and not want to change their life around be there for ten years or longer.  I was already tired of being locked up my daughter was getting older.  I saw a chance to change my life and when someone asked what I wanted to do with my life I said I wanted to learn computers and go back to college.  They helped my learn typing and computers well I studied for and applied to college.
It wasn’t my first breakdown I had a mental episode in prison that I did not understand I just thought when my appeal was won things would go back to normal.  Stress did not allow that.  For me besides the five years I lost in the state hospital I really came out pretty good.  I was able to go back to college and get my Masters.  I work and I have my grandkids and daughter in my life besides my family that has stuck by me throughout prison and the state hospital.  People do not usually get a chance to turn their whole life around.  Usually if you want to change and stay out of prison there is no chance except to become homeless and live a life of drinking.  You do not get a program to rehabilitate you and help you succeed.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Having a New Thought

“They grew tissue called neuroectoderm – the layer of cells in the embryo from which all components of the brain and nervous system develop.  Fragments of this tissue were then embedded in a scaffold and put into a spinning bioreactor – a system that circulates oxygen and nutrients to allow them to grow into cerebral organoids.  After a month, the fragments had organized themselves into primitive structures that could be recognized as developing brain regions such as retina, choroid plexus and cerebral cortex, the researchers explained in a telephone briefing.”
Recently an editorial was published in MSN News relating to stem cell research and the growing of brain tissue.  Researchers in Austria have succeeded in doing, growing cerebral – organoids or mini-brains.  I chuckled at first, thinking this was some sort of joke, yet as I read on, I found out that there must be some truth to this.  There were no aforementioned negatives about the subject, no protest of “man Pretending he is god”, only the speculation of what can be done with this research into brain tissue development.  What I did not understand is what was meant by, “development of brain tissue in three dimensions.”  The research scientist have already begun researching with a new biological model of how a rare brain condition develops and are even now speculating on models for autism, schizophrenia and depression, which as we know are mental disorders, which affect millions of people worldwide.  I stopped reading for a while to look at pictographs of the human brain as well as various cross-sectional photographs and sketches of the human retina.  I thought as I turned pages and read definitions that I may not be a genius, but I am complicated.
I am neither saddened or glad about such an interesting discovery, though I find myself wondering if this may lead to a future of transplants where damaged sections of the human brain can be grown and implanted to help those especially who are schizophrenic, even such those who suffer from trauma.  Science is reaching a new high and it must be respected, though somewhat costly, leaves us with new lives which will be spared pain and confusion from even such a brain tissue implant and research which is coupled with it.
The researchers were not all speculating on generating an entire brain, yet their goal is to analyze the development of human brain tissue and create a system they can use to transfer knowledge from animal models to human.  “The human brain is the most complex thing in the known universe…both between its numerous subdivisions and the body in general,” said Dean Burnett, lecturer in Psychiatry at Cardiff University.  “Saying you can replicate the workings of the brain with some tissue in a dish in the lab is like inventing the first abacus and saying you can use it to run the latest version of Microsoft Windows…”
Written by Donald S