Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Scientists Unravel The Causes Of Schizophrenia

That is the title of this article I am writing about. "Schizophrenia is a long-term mental health problem with a complex of symptoms ranging from unorganized thinking or speech to hallucinations. The causes—it seems—are equally complex, with a combination of physical, psychological, environmental and genetic factors implicated. A group of researchers from Duke University decided to focus on just one of these genetic factors, and found that it was linked to three crucial changes in the brain. The study, published in the journal Nature Neuroscience, linked together three possible ideas for the cause of schizophrenia that were previously thought to be unrelated. This new insight into the molecular basis of schizophrenia offers hope for new treatments that are more targeted to the underlying causes of the disorder, rather than just treating the symptoms. The researchers decided to look at how one gene, Arp2/3, contributed to the formation of mental disorders. They chose this particular gene because it is known to be important in governing the formation of the connections between neurons, called synapses, and has also been linked to various mental health conditions. They then genetically modified mice to lack the Arp2/3 gene. Surprisingly, the modified mice displayed schizophrenia-like behaviors. Furthermore, like humans, the animals worsened over time, and when then given antipsychotic medicine, some of the animals’ symptoms were relieved. "That is the cause now can they find an answer to give people relief? Hopefully they can find answers to medication that does not cause so many side effects.
The article goes on to say: "When the team, led by Scott Soderling, investigated whether there were any physical or chemical changes in the brain linked to the behaviors seen in the Arp2/3 gene-deficient mice, they discovered three brain abnormalities—all originally considered to be unlinked—that also appear in humans with schizophrenia. Firstly, they found that cells in the brain's frontal area—the region responsible for planning and decision-making—had fewer than normal "dendritic spines." These are the branches that help connect neurons to each other. As the mice aged, they lost more and more of these spines. This is known as the ‘spine pruning theory.’ Secondly, consistent with people suffering schizophrenia, they discovered that the mice lacking Arp2/3 also had hyperactive neurons in the same frontal region of the brain. It was originally thought that hyperactive neurons were incompatible with the ‘spine pruning theory.’ However, the neurons of the modified mice were found to be able to bypass the spines, which act as a filter to keep hyperactive neurons in check. As a consequence, the cells went into overdrive." They have the reasons why it happens. I know little about the brain but I would think hopefully they can find out before hand who would be susceptible to have mental illness.  That way they can find it before it starts. I hope for any family members I may have given mental illness because I have it.
The article ends with: "A third theory suggested that too much dopamine within the brain played a major role in schizophrenia. This was backed up by the fact that a major drug used to treat mental disorders, haloperidol, works by blocking dopamine transmission. The researchers found that the hyperactive neurons in the front of the mice's brains made them dump large amounts of dopamine.
'The most exciting part was when all the pieces of the puzzle fell together,' explained Soderling. 'When Dr. Kim and I finally realized that these three outwardly unrelated phenotypes—spine pruning, hyperactive neurons and excessive dopamine—were actually functionally interrelated with each other, that was really surprising and also very exciting for us.' With the drug haloperidol acting as one of the main treatments to help tame the symptoms of schizophrenia by reducing the amount of dopamine within the brain, this new research goes to show that rather than being the cause of the problem, the excess dopamine is actually the result of a series of misfirings​. It is hoped that this might lead to new treatments that interrupt this cascade, before it manifests in debilitating psychiatric symptoms." I hope so also. My symptoms are in check for the most part, negative and positive. I always read about people that their symptoms are not in check and I know they would like to feel like me and work and do all the things they would like. My medication I know when I take it I fall asleep after a couple of hours and if I do not take it I am wide awake and I know something is wrong.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Psychosis Seldom Leads to Violence

That is the title of this article I am writing about.  "The hallucinations and delusions associated with psychosis seldom foreshadow acts of violence, according to new research led by the University of California, Berkeley.  The findings, published in the online journal Clinical Psychological Science, challenge the media-fueled stereotype of psychosis-induced aggression.  For the study, researchers conducted a meticulous review of 305 violent incidents by mental health patients in the United States, and discovered that only 12 percent of these were preceded by psychosis.  Numerous studies have shown that violence and murder are more likely to be sparked by anger, access to firearms, and substance abuse. The new study is the first to analyze the regularity of psychosis-induced violence among the mentally ill.  'High-profile mass shootings capture public attention and increase vigilance of people with mental illness. But our findings clearly show that psychosis rarely leads directly to violence,' said study lead author Dr. Jennifer Skeem, a clinical psychologist and associate dean of research at University of California, Berkeley’s School of Social Welfare. " People with mental illness are usually the subjects of violence happening to them. My mental illness had some violence although I was drunk on tequila or it would have never happen at all.
The article goes on to say: "Skeem and fellow researchers at the University of Virginia and Columbia University focused on the most violent patients tracked in the MacArthur Violence Risk Assessment study, a major 1998 analysis of more than 1,100 offenders who had been discharged from psychiatric facilities. Specifically, the researchers focused on 100 high-risk patients, who had been involved in two or more violent incidents in the year after they were discharged from a psychiatric facility. The goal was to establish their mental states at the time they were engaging in acts of violence. 'We wanted to examine the small group of people with repeated violence and see how consistently these violent incidents were caused by hallucinations and delusions,' Skeem said. In addition to reviewing records, they interviewed former patients about what they were thinking and feeling just before they committed acts of violence, and also sought the perspectives of their friends and family members." I have not committed an act of violence in the twenty six years of having a mental illness since that day. There are more regular people who commit violence everyday than people with mental illness.
The article ends: "The findings revealed that psychosis preceded only 12 percent of the violent acts they committed following their release. Furthermore, if psychosis was the basis of one violent incident, it was rarely implicated in subsequent ones. Mental health professionals and advocates assert that high-profile cases perpetuate the stigma of mental illness, and keep people who are suffering from psychiatric disorders from talking about their condition and seeking help. In fact, they say, people with mental illness are more likely to be victims of violence than the perpetrators. 'None of this detracts from the message that people with mental illness need access to psychiatric services,' Skeem said. 'But it’s important to remember that risk factors for violence, such as substance abuse, childhood maltreatment, neighborhood disadvantage, are mostly shared by people with and without mental illness, and that’s what we should be focused on if maximizing public safety is our goal.'" They tell the truth I would never commit a violent act again.  I would not have committed that one if I was not drunk.  I know that is not a good excuse although it happened and I will never let it happen again.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Healing plants inspire new compounds for psychiatric drugs

That is the title of this article I am writing about.  "Treatments used by traditional healers in Nigeria have inspired scientists at Northwestern University to synthesize four new chemical compounds that could one day lead to better therapies for people with psychiatric disorders.
In a paper published online in the journal Angewandte Chemie International Edition, the scientists detail how they created these natural compounds by completing the first total syntheses of two indole alkaloids -- alstonine and serpentine. These alkaloids, found in various plant species used by healers in Nigeria to treat people with conditions such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, have antipsychotic properties that have potential to improve mental disorder treatments.  The current drugs used for schizophrenia effectively treat delusions and hallucinations but are only partially effective for cognitive impairment. Early experimental research of these new compounds in animal models shows promise in improving cognitive impairment, the Northwestern scientists said.  'After billions of years of evolution, nature has given us a great starting point for generating new types of molecules that could end up being used as innovative drugs," said Karl Scheidt, lead author of the paper. "We've learned how to make these natural products in the lab and can now evaluate what are the most effective parts of these natural products for potential therapies'" That sounds good if they can use what nature has provided great.  If it can help with negative symptoms to that would be a big help.
The article goes on to say: "Scheidt is a professor of chemistry at Northwestern University's Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and professor of pharmacology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. He collaborated on this study with Dr. Herbert Meltzer, professor in psychiatry and behavioral sciences, pharmacology and physiology at Feinberg. They are both members of Northwestern's Chemistry of Life Processes Institute (CLP), which helps foster collaboration between schools and lowers the barriers to scientific discovery.  Meltzer, who has spent much of his career researching drug therapies now in use for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, approached Scheidt about the possibility of creating these compounds. Meltzer's longtime research goal is to improve treatment outcomes and develop knowledge of brain mechanisms in mental disorders. Scheidt's expertise is in designing novel methods and strategies for the construction of complex natural products with important biological attributes.  'The synthesis of these alkaloids, which we have now just achieved, was exceedingly difficult," said Meltzer, second author of the paper and an attending physician at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. "Karl Scheidt's expertise in the synthesis of natural products was crucial to the success of this project and is the first step in getting a new drug ready for clinical trials.'  Traditional healers boil these special plants and produce an extract that they administer to people with symptoms of mental illness. However, this extract isn't pure, and it contains other compounds and materials that may not be beneficial to people with mental disorders."  If they can use what works and get rid of the rest that would be very beneficial to people with mental illness.  They are both in research of drug therapies so hopefully between the two of them they create a drug that works and does not have as many side effects as present drugs do.
The article ends: "'Nature did not intend this plant to produce an antipsychotic drug on its own,' Meltzer said.  The collaborative work to create the compounds took place in the Center for Molecular Innovation and Drug Discovery (CMIDD) at Northwestern, using high-level purification resources and state-of-the-art research instrumentation and equipment. Scheidt is the director of CMIDD.
Through an efficient and stereo-selective synthesis, Scheidt and his team created four separate but related natural products. Now a template exists to continue making these compounds as needed for future studies and ultimately for use in clinical drug trials.  'We can make multi-gram quantities of any of the compounds we want,' Scheidt said. 'We built the assembly line and are now uniquely positioned to explore their potential.'  Meltzer is already using these compounds in animal studies in his lab to better understand how they affect brain biology and chemistry in the schizophrenia disease model. Early results from his lab show that the compounds may increase the ability of other antipsychotic drugs to improve cognitive impairment." It sounds really well in the early stages.  We can only hope that it works better than what is available today. We all know that they have to use what is available in a plant that works and not use everything. Hopefully it works with people.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Drop in disability rolls adds to signs of U.S. labor market recovery

That it the title of this article I am writing about. "(Reuters) - The number of Americans on disability has declined for six months in a row in a sharp turnaround after years of increases, more evidence of the labor market recovery the Federal Reserve wants to see before nudging interest rates higher.
Social Security disability rolls have climbed since the 1980s as the U.S. population has grown older and soared during and after the global financial crisis. That stoked fears that shrinking workforce will stunt the economy's future growth.  The surge also raised the prospect that the program could run out of money and triggered calls for tougher eligibility rules as part of a broader political stand-off over the scope and costs of Social Security.  The trend reversal may help dispel funding fears and take the edge off the political confrontation. Alongside other data such as the decline in the number of part-time workers, it is also another sign that the scars of the 2007-2009 crisis and recession are healing.
The number of new disability awards peaked in 2010 and held near or above a million a year between 2009 and 2012. It returned to pre-crisis levels last year, hitting 811,000, according to Social Security figures. Data for the first three months of the year suggest a further drop to around 750,000 in the whole of 2015. Last year was the first in a decade when the share of disabled workers in the 16-64 year-year-old population stabilized. Other measures of the prevalence of disability have also leveled off. The numbers serve as a gauge of labor market strength because people with less severe disabilities and sought-after skills are able to hold on to jobs when the economy improves, said Social Security Administration's chief actuary Stephen C. Goss. Disability applications have dropped by about 400,000 a year, to 2.5 million, since the crisis. " That is good news as I am always seeing people with mental illness that want to try and work again. Work gets you out of yourself and you think of other things besides your problems.
The article goes on to say: "CYCLICAL UPSWING
In addition, some in the middle of the extensive application process or already on the disability rolls might find jobs that pull them back to work, said Goss, who oversees the statistics used to manage the vast pension and disability programs.  'There is no question that there is a cyclical component.'
With benefits linked to a person's earnings and years of work, the federal program is available to people with physical or mental conditions that prevent them from 'gainful' activity - defined to mean they cannot earn more than $1,095 a month.  But the availability of jobs, and employers' willingness to hire those with health problems, changes with the economic cycle: More people with less-severe problems seek benefits during hard times and more will choose full-time work over benefits during upswings.  Since September, more people were leaving than joining the program, driving down the total number of benefit recipients to 8,935,000.  Kevin Holtsberry, spokesman for Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities, a job placement agency, said the group has seen a jump in the past year both in the number of people requesting vocational rehabilitation plans so they can keep working or return to work, and a more than 16 percent increase in the number of people placed into jobs.
'We have seen an uptick in applications and we are seeing an increase in successful outcomes,' Holtsberry said." Even when you have a job and you are still on social security it is hard because I found that they always had a hard time figuring out what I made and what they take off social security.  Sometimes because of that a person will find out it is better to get completely off social security and try and make it on you own as was my case.  It was a headache.
The article ends: "Andrew Houtenville, an associate professor of economics at the University of New Hampshire and research director at the school’s Institute on Disability pointed out that labor force participation for people with disabilities has increased over the past six months compared to the rest of the population, a rare stretch of improvement. For Federal Reserve policymakers who meet on Tuesday and Wednesday and continue to weigh when to start lifting interest rates a key question is how much slack is left in the job market and how many people might still wait to rejoin the workforce.  The share of those working or looking for work peaked in 2000 at 67.3 percent and has been falling since, with the slide accelerating during the last recession. The rate has held relatively stable for a year now, but at just below 63 percent it is still far below the pre-recession levels.
Yet Richmond Federal Reserve bank president Jeffrey Lacker has indicated that this might be as good as it gets since the crisis discouraged many workers from looking for jobs altogether.
Speaking on April 10 in Sarasota, Florida, Lacker said that the potential for cyclical movement into and out of the labor force was 'gone now.'  "I think we're back to trend," he said. Lacker, who is a voting member of the Fed's policy committee this year, has advocated considering a rate rise in June.

(Reporting by Howard Schneider and Michael Flaherty; Editing by David Chance and Tomasz Janowski)." Well things get better for people with disabilities than they do something to make it worse. Even though I am glad to be working rather than sitting home and watching TV everyday and complaining about money problems.  I am still complaining about how high it is for rent.  I guess complaining will never change not matter how bright the economy is.