Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Brain Imaging Shows Schizophrenia May Not Be One Illness

That is the title of this article I am writing about today. "People who suffer from severe schizophrenia have very different brain networks compared to others with milder schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or no mental illness, according to new research from Canada’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH).  Researchers say the findings confirm mounting evidence that schizophrenia is in fact more than one brain disorder.  Finding ways to help this particular group of people with schizophrenia is a priority as recovery is unlikely, even up to 20 years after the initial diagnosis. Social isolation, lack of work and relationships, and chronic disability are very common,' says Dr. Aristotle Voineskos, senior author on the paper and Director of the Slaight Family Centre for Youth in Transition at CAMH.  Approximately one in 100 people are diagnosed with schizophrenia.The condition is generally known for symptoms of delusions and hallucinations, which are typically treated with antipsychotic medications."  They seem the same although I know that my paranoid schizophrenia is different than other people's schizophrenia. I do not suffer from most the of the negative symptoms that others suffer from.
The article goes on to say: "However, lack of motivation and social withdrawal, known as negative symptoms, are extremely common as well.  As of now, there is no treatment for negative symptoms, yet they have the greatest impact on a person’s daily functioning once the psychosis is under control. About one in five people with schizophrenia experience these negative symptoms in a pronounced way, said lead author Dr. Anne Wheeler, CAMH postdoctoral fellow.  The study involved magnetic resonance brain imaging (MRI) of 128 people with schizophrenia and 130 healthy individuals at two sites, and with 39 patients with bipolar disorder and 43 healthy individuals at a third site.  Bipolar patients suffer from psychotic symptoms but not negative symptoms, so these patients served as an additional comparison group." If I wasn't able to work I do not know what I would do. I not only make money although it also passes time which is important to me.  To make me feel free.
The article ends:"We found alterations in a number of relationships between brain regions among those with more severe schizophrenia compared with the other groups, including those with less severe schizophrenia,' said Voineskos.  'This provides strong evidence that schizophrenia is not just one brain disorder.'  The findings also confirmed results from previous research from his team showing changes in the white matter tissues connecting those same regions in the brain, among those with more severe schizophrenia. These impaired networks are important to the brain processes related to negative symptoms and social function that patients experience, the authors write.  Through this study, specific brain circuits can be targeted to develop new therapeutic approaches for negative symptoms and social impairment. More research is currently under way at CAMH using virtual reality technology and brain stimulation." It would be great if they can help those people who suffer everyday from negative symptoms.  You only hope these studies end up helping instead of just talking about it.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Voices in people's heads more complex than previously thought

That is the title of this article I am writing about today.  "Voices in people's heads are far more varied and complex than previously thought, according to new research by Durham and Stanford universities, published in The Lancet Psychiatry today.  One of the largest and most detailed studies to date on the experience of auditory hallucinations, commonly referred to as voice hearing, found that the majority of voice-hearers hear multiple voices with distinct character-like qualities, with many also experiencing physical effects on their bodies.  The study also confirmed that both people with and without psychiatric diagnoses hear voices.  The findings question some of the current assumptions about the nature of hearing voices and suggest there is a greater variation in the way voices are experienced than is typically recognised.  The researchers say this variation means different types of therapies could be needed for voice-hearers, such as tailored Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) geared towards distinct voice sub-types or patterns of voice hearing.  Current common approaches to help with voices include medication, CBT, voice dialogue techniques and other forms of therapy and self-help.  The researchers say this variation means different types of therapies could be needed for voice-hearers, such as tailored Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) geared towards distinct voice sub-types or patterns of voice hearing.  Current common approaches to help with voices include medication, CBT, voice dialogue techniques and other forms of therapy and self-help.  Auditory hallucinations are a common feature of many psychiatric disorders, such as psychosis, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, but are also experienced by people without psychiatric conditions. It is estimated that between five and 15 per cent of adults will experience auditory hallucinations during their lifetimes.  This is one of the first studies to shed light on the nature of voice-hearing both inside and outside schizophrenia, across many different mental health diagnoses.
Lead researcher Dr Angela Woods, from the Centre for Medical Humanities at Durham University, said: "Our findings have the potential to overturn mainstream psychiatric assumptions about the nature of hearing voices." I heard voices once in the state hospital so I do not know to much about them.  The voices kept telling me that my sisters were being held on a ward across from mine.  I went over to that ward and it was empty.  I did get in trouble although I was insane and really did not understand.
The article goes on to say: "'We call into question the presumed auditory quality of hearing voices and show that there is an unrecognised complexity in the 'character' qualities of some voices.  'It is crucial to study mental health and human experiences such as voice-hearing from a variety of different perspectives to truly find out what people are experiencing, not just what we think they must be experiencing because they have a particular diagnosis. We hope this approach can help inform the development of future clinical interventions.'  The researchers, funded by the Wellcome Trust, collected answers to open- and close-ended questions through an on-line questionnaire focused on description of experiences from 153 respondents. The majority of respondents had been diagnosed with a psychiatric condition but 26 had no history of mental illness. Participants were free to respond in their own words.  The large majority of respondents described hearing multiple voices (81 per cent) with characterful qualities (70 per cent).  Less than half the participants reported hearing purely auditory voices with 45 per cent reporting either thought-like or 'inbetween' voices with some thought-like and some acoustic qualities. This finding challenges the view that hearing voices is always a perceptual or acoustic phenomenon, and may have implications for future neuroscientific studies of what is happening in the brain when people 'hear' voices.  66 per cent of people felt bodily sensations while hearing voices, such as feeling hot or tingling sensations in their hands and feet. Voices with effects on the body were more likely to be abusive or violent, and, in some cases, be linked to experiences of trauma.  While fear, anxiety, depression and stress were often associated with voices, 31 per cent of participants said they also felt positive emotions.  Co-author Dr Nev Jones from Stanford University said: 'Our findings regarding the prevalence and phenomenology of non-acoustic voices are particularly noteworthy. By and large, these voices were not experienced simply as intrusive or unwanted thoughts, but rather, like the auditory voices, as distinct 'entities' with their own personalities and content. This data also suggests that we need to think much more carefully about the distinction between imagined percepts, such as sound, and perception.'" I really cannot tell you who my voices sounded like as it happened so fast and then I was on medication.
The article ends: "Case study
Rachel Waddingham is an independent trainer and consultant with Behind The Label and a trustee of the National Hearing Voices Network and the International Society for Psychological and Social Approaches to Psychosis.
Rachel hears voices, sees visions and has struggled with overwhelming beliefs.
Rachel explains: "I hear about 13 or so voices. Each of them is different -- some have names, they are different ages and sound like different people. Some of them are very angry and violent, others are scared, and others are mischievous. Sometimes, I hear a child who is very frightened. When she is frightened I can sometimes feel pains in my body -- burning. If I can help the voice calm down, by doing some grounding strategies, the burning pains stop.
'Since going to a Hearing Voices Group, I have found ways of making sense of and coping with my voices. I no longer feel terrorised by them even though some of them say some very frightening things. I now have a family of voices and have a better relationship with them. I can make a choice about how I respond to them -- whether I listen to them, and how I reply. Some of them are now much more helpful -- they can be a window to my feelings, letting me know about a problem that I have in my life that I need to address.  'Although in our society, people who hear voices are often seen as 'mad' or 'crazy', I do think things are changing. I find that lots of people are interested in voice-hearing. Many people have told me about experiences they have had -- either in their childhood, or as an adult. It's as if by talking about voices we are starting to de-stigmatise the experience and opening the door for others to speak openly too.  'As long as we believe that voices are signs of pathology and illness, it makes little sense to really explore a person's lived experience. Instead we try to suppress or eliminate the voices as far as possible. Listening to them seems 'crazy'. Still, in my experience it can be really useful to be interested in people's lived experience of voice-hearing. Every one of us is different, and being curious about my experiences was one of the first steps to dealing with them.  'This research is a step forward. If we want to understand more about voice-hearing, it makes sense to ask a voice-hearer -- and be willing to modify our perception of what it means to hear voices based on their answers. For me, the word 'voices' isn't sufficient. I use it, but it hides the embodied parts of my experience for which I have few words to describe.  'I would like to live in a world where we are curious about one another's experiences and seek to understand rather than pathologise. Everyone has a story and the world would be much kinder if we started to listen to it.'" She talks the truth although I know it is frightening hearing voices.  Even though I only experienced it for awhile.  I know having a mental illness really changed me and I know I never want to lose control of myself ever again.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Diet and Exercise

That is the title of this article I am writing about. "Everybody is always talking about losing weight. It is harder then a person thinks. I was able to lose about a little over twenty pounds when I took a vacation and in Boston was doing a lot of walking. I liked how much I was losing and started cutting down on the amount I ate. I also used to drink about six soda's a day.  I cut down to two a day and they are Coke zero or Pepsi max.  I started making my own trail mix for when I did get hungry.  Although that was the last amount of weight that I lost.  I sill try and eat half of every meal unless I go out to eat which is not that often. Losing more has been a struggle. I do not walk half as much as I did in Boston there we walked at least an hour a day.  Here it has been about a half hour a day. All that does is keep me at the same weight I have been at.  If I do not walk I start gaining right away.
I like walking the best.  We do have treadmills where I work although it seems once I start then when I want to use it somebody beats me to it then I just take a walk around the building which is not enough exercise. Although it is best for when it is cold outside. I do not know if the trail mix makes me gain weight or not. I know it did not in the past. I like everybody am always searching for a way to make weight go away. I do know it has something to do with the medication I take that makes it hard to lose the weight.  I used to smoke and eat all I wanted which was not very much when I was younger. I would walk from one side of town to the other.  Although that was not everyday.
I do know one thing though I cannot give up trying.  I just have to find away to lose at least twenty more pounds.  One thing I can do is double my walking.  Keep eating just half a meal. Sooner or later I will lose the weight I want to. I believe quitting alcohol and smoking was easier.  Although if I did not quit smoking I would still be skinny.  Although the smoking was already taking a toll on my health even at thirty five years old.  I would have had to quit sooner or later.  It was easier when did because I had a reason to quit at that time. I would not change that. I hardly ate at that time because of smoking and did I smoke I would have four cigarettes first thing every morning.  I will keep trying to lose weight and if it gets any better I will be sure to let all of you know.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Wellness Advice Often Lacking for Mentally Ill

That is the title of this article I am writing about.  "A new study finds health care providers often fail to provide dietary and exercise advice to patients with diabetes, or to those who display symptoms of mental illness.  People with mental illness are often at high risk for diabetes as well as other “lifestyle” diseases.  During the investigation researchers discovered more than half of patients with symptoms of mental illness, and nearly one-third of those who also had diabetes, failed to receive appropriate health education.  The study has been published in the journal Diabetes Educator.
Although exercise and dietary recommendations have been a mainstay of diabetic care, researchers say those with mental illness can also benefit from a wellness lifestyle. Appropriate amounts of physical activity and healthy dietary choices can improve the quality of life and prevent debilitating health problems for diabetics and for those with mental illness. Providers should not miss the opportunity to advise people with mental illness on health promotion and lifestyle changes, said researcher Xiaoling Xiang of the University of Illinois. 'It is important that providers counsel people in this population as early as possible about exercise and nutritional changes that reduce the risks associated with diabetes — before risk factors such as hypertension and high cholesterol manifest,' said Xiang, a doctoral candidate in social work. People with mental illness have significantly higher rates of health problems such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol that could be prevented or alleviated with lifestyle modifications. They are also at increased risk of premature death, according to the study." People need to know before they develop theses diseases.  I know for one I do not want any health problems in my life.  I know that walking helps and I do walk.  The treadmill also helps.
The article goes on to say: "In the current study, participants ranged from 18 to 70 years old. The prevalence of diabetes was 15.6 percent among people in the data sample who had symptoms of serious psychological distress, compared with 7.9 percent of their peers.  Rates for all of the clinical conditions that predispose patients to diabetes were significantly higher among participants with symptoms of mental illness than among their counterparts.  More than 70 percent of those with mental illness had body mass indexes above 25, compared with 64.3 percent of their peers. They also had significantly higher rates of hypertension (42.1 percent, compared with 25.6 percent), hyperlipidemia (42 percent, versus 30.6 percent), and cardiovascular disease (29.7 percent, versus 14.7 percent).  People with symptoms of psychological distress who had not been diagnosed with diabetes at the time of the study had an average of more than three diabetes risk factors, compared with their counterparts, who averaged 2.4 risk factors.  The likelihood of patients receiving lifestyle counseling increased in accordance with their number of risk factors, however. While only 10.4 percent of patients who had no diabetes risk factors said they had received dietary advice from their health care providers, more than 65 percent of people with five or more risk factors had received dietary counseling." I know that before I had a mental illness and stopped smoking I hardly had to worry about my weight.  Now I have to lose a least twenty pounds and I still will not be at the weight I was before all this happened.
The article ends with: "'Given the elevated risk for diabetes among individuals with symptoms of psychological distress, even greater numbers of clinicians in the study sample should have been providing lifestyle counseling,' Xiang said.  'However, the increase in the rates of diabetes and diabetes risk factors seems to have outpaced the increase in the rates of provider advice for this population.' Because people with mental illness tend to utilize outpatient, inpatient, and emergency services at much higher rates than the general population, clinicians have increased opportunities to educate patients about the benefits of a healthy diet and physical activity, Xiang said.
Researchers used data from the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services’ Medical Expenditure Panel Survey. This survey interviews a nationally representative sample of participants multiple times over a two-year period about their health and use of medical services. Subjects in the data sample who had symptoms of mental illness had scored 13 or higher on the six-item Kessler Psychological Distress Scale, also called the K6, a screening tool that has been shown to be strongly predictive of serious mental illness." I do not want diabetes.  I do what I have to make sure I do not get it. I do need to walk more or get on the treadmill more than I do.  I will just have to make the changes to make sure I do.