Fascinating new research links the gut and brain in sickness and health.
Schizophrenia is a neurodegenerative disorder that affects about 1 percent of the world population and tends to strike in the prime of life. Preventing this disease could help tens of millions of families throughout the world, so finding the risk factors for early diagnosis and treatment are paramount. We know there are genetic risks that, at the moment, can’t be changed (and as the disorder is polygenic, we will not find a single “schizophrenia gene”). Other major risk factors, such as prenatal infection, also can’t be changed 18-35 years later when the disease shows up. We know there are risk factors that can be addressed, such as using large amounts of high-THC marijuana in adolescence. But are there other factors that predispose people to schizophrenia that we may be able to address, such as changes in the microbiome? more
Marked each year on March 30, World Bipolar Day (WBD) is a world-wide awareness initiative that aims to encourage global education, open discussion, as well as improving sensitivity surrounding bipolar disorder.
As many as 1% to 2% of the British population experience bipolar through their lives and recent research suggested as many as 5% are on the bipolar spectrum.
A severe mental health illness characterised by significant mood swings including manic highs and depressive lows, the majority of individuals with bipolar experience alternating episodes of mania and depression. more
At 16-years old Martyn was a star footballer – however his sporting dreams were shattered when he was told he may never walk again following a devastating injury.
Although the doctors’ fears did not become reality – Martyn was unable to pursue his passion, and found himself sinking into a deep depression.
Years later, after developing paranoia, voices in his head and an addiction to drugs and alcohol, Martyn attempted to kill himself in a desperate bid to end his mental turmoil.
Now 34, the Chalfont St Peter resident is a trustee at mental health charity Buckinghamshire Mind, and is a passionate advocate for Bucks County Council’s (BCC) Time to Change Campaign – which aims to end the stigma surrounding mental illness. more
Hallucinations and Combat Veterans with PTSD
Among combat veterans with PTSD, 30-40% report auditory hallucinations(AH). AH are more frequent in combat veterans with chronic PTSD and it has been suggested that this may reflect a distinct subtype of PTSD that may be under recognized for two reasons: first, patients are reluctant to report AH and, second, more emphasis has, traditionally, been placed on the intrusive images associated with PTSD and less on intrusive auditory hallucinations.
It is important to recognize that such patients do not have the overt changes in affect or bizarre delusions characteristic of other psychoses e.g. schizophrenia. AH in PTSD appears to be seen more in veterans with higher combat exposure and more intense PTSD symptoms and who report more severe symptoms of hyperarousal. The AH are typically: ego-dystonic; contribute to an increases sense of isolation and shame; associated with feelings of lack of controllability; consist of combat-related themes and guilt; non bizarre; not associated with thought disorders and, overall, more refractory to treatment interventions. more
Neuroticism is one of the five higher-order personality traits and pretty much everyone has it to some extent.
People who score high on neuroticism are easily worried and are more likely to experience negative feelings such as fear, anger, frustration, jealousy, guilt, and loneliness. They tend to interpret common situations as threatening, or to feel that small challenges are hopelessly difficult.
Now Eivind Ystrøm, a professor at the Department of Psychology at the University of Oslo and his colleagues say that this trait best defines the risk of developing psychiatric problems.
Research also shows that it is mainly your genes that determine your personality, and thus the risk of mental illness. more
Nearly five years ago to the day, Bradley Davenport experienced an episode.
Then 24 years old, Davenport’s vehicle sideswiped a tractor-trailer while traveling along U.S. 20. In the throes of psychosis, he then led police on a high-speed chase beginning in LaPorte and ending near Michigan City, at times driving in the opposite lane, a news report indicates.
With the vehicle eventually spun out and blocked, a delusional Davenport punched in the face a police officer who attempted to restrain him. A Taser was employed, an eventual apprehension and admittance into a regional hospital’s psychiatric unit followed.
Shortly after the episode, and avoiding conviction, Davenport was clinically diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder — what amounts, in his case, to schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder, he explained. more
One of the many opposite symptoms of autism as opposed to psychosisthat was apparent from the beginning was that a classic symptom of schizophrenia is hearing voices, whereas a common complaint about autistics is that they seem to be deaf, and many autistics report difficulty hearing what someone is saying in a noisy ambience.
Now two different studies, kindly brought to my attention by Bernard Crespi, not only confirm this feature of the diametric model of mental illness, but also go some considerable way towards explaining it.
Not only psychotics, but a minority of the general population also experience auditory hallucinations frequently and without distress. As a recent study by Ben Alderson-Day and colleagues points out, “non-clinical voice-hearing (NCVH) is featurally similar to auditory verbal hallucinations described in psychosis, but usually more controllable and positive in content.” more
No one ever explained my mother’s illness to me, and the trauma I experienced had lasting effects. I worry that young people nowadays face the same challenges
When I was 12, my mother cornered me in the bathroom of our suburban Vancouver home. “Your teeth are too yellow,” she said, handing me a can of Comet.
Though disappointed that little about me ever pleased my parent, I understood from past experience how to get through the current predicament. I sprinkled green powder on my toothbrush and did my best to not let any of it go down my throat while I scrubbed.
The things I didn’t do: report her to authorities; confide in a reliable adult; tell my school friends; cry. Perhaps my mother was right and my teeth were ugly. Or perhaps the shame I felt overshadowed the grievous nature of her request.
As my sole guardian, my mother was the most important person in my life. And under her roof, I played by her rules, no matter how bizarre, because losing her was unthinkable. I didn’t know she suffered from psychosis. I only knew that when she stared at me, her brown eyes near black and glittering with relentless intensity, what she saw didn’t meet her approval.
“an invasive apprehension moved into my nervous system. Just the tap of her heels on the kitchen linoleum sent my heart rate into rapid ascent” more
Luke Watkin was in year eight at school and alone in a corridor when he first heard a strange noise.
“I heard what sounded like a train brake, followed by a metal on metal noise.
“It was just something completely out of the ordinary. It was a bit of a shock to the system, something I just couldn’t understand or really process.
“My experience at the time was quite terrifying.”
It was his first experience of the mental health condition, psychosis. Luke was 12 years old.
He said it went on from noises to hearing words, hearing his name, to eventually hearing whole sentences “of it almost trying to talk to me”.
The main symptoms of psychosis are hallucinations and delusions and it can be caused by a specific mental health condition, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or severe depression. more
Many depressed people hide their psychosis from doctors
Many people think psychosis only strikes people with schizophrenia. In fact, about one in five people with severe depression also experience breaks with reality. You might hear a voice berating or taunting you, or believe you committed a crime that never occurred.
To diagnose major depression, a psychiatrist looks for at least five of these symptoms over two weeks or more: agitation or slow motor function, changes in appetite or weight, low mood, trouble concentrating, guilt, sleeping too little or too much, losing interest or pleasure in most activities, low energy, and thoughts of death or suicide. If you also have delusions or hallucinations, you will be diagnosed as having “depression with psychotic features.” more