What Is Schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a chronic brain disorder that affects less than one percent of the U.S. population. When schizophrenia is active, symptoms can include delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech, trouble with thinking and lack of motivation. However, with treatment, most symptoms of schizophrenia will greatly improve and the likelihood of a recurrence can be diminished.

While there is no cure for schizophrenia, research is leading to innovative and safer treatments. Experts also are unraveling the causes of the disease by studying genetics, conducting behavioral research, and using advanced imaging to look at the brain’s structure and function. These approaches hold the promise of new, and more effective therapies.

The complexity of schizophrenia may help explain why there are misconceptions about the disease. Schizophrenia does not mean split personality or multiple-personality. Most people with schizophrenia are not any more dangerous or violent than people in the general population. While limited mental health resources in the community may lead to homelessness and frequent hospitalizations, it is a misconception that people with schizophrenia end up homeless or living in hospitals. Most people with schizophrenia live with their family, in group homes or on their own.

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Biology may make certain PTSD patients unresponsive to behavioral therapy

How well-connected a particular brain network is, and how successfully memories are formed, may determine which patients with post-traumatic stress disorder benefit from behavioral therapy, researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have found.

The finding could indicate a biological subtype of PTSD whose clinical relevance only becomes obvious when patients undergo treatment, the researchers said. Furthermore, by replicating their results across a diverse range of patients, the researchers were able to clearly and objectively characterize a biological signature in PTSD patients who differ in their response to behavioral therapy.  more

The Unreliable Reader

In Esmé Weijun Wang’s book of personal essays, “The Collected Schizophrenias,” it’s the reader, not the writer, who is an unreliable narrator.

“I write this while experiencing a strain of psychosis known as Cotard’s delusion, in which the patient believes that they are dead,” the novelist Esmé Weijun Wang writes at the beginning of “Perdition Days,” an essay from her new book, The Collected Schizophrenias. (Read an excerpt on Longreads.) “What the writer’s confused state means is not beside the point, because it is the point,” she continues. “I am in here, somewhere: cogito ergo sum.” The passage moves swiftly, from first person agency (“I am writing”) to distanced third person (“the patient,” “the writer”) to the famous Descartes assertion, in Latin, “I think, therefore I am.” As a reader, it’s astonishing and a little unnerving to consider the immediacy of the prose, your intimacy with a speaker searching to find the correct vantage from which to narrate the strangely drawn, difficult-to-map districts of her mind. more

Psychosis and Symbiosis: Microbiome and Schizophrenia

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

Mental Health Awareness Means Talking About All Types of Mental Illness

Mental illness is incredibly common: Nearly one in five adults in the United States lives with a mental illnessaccording to the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH). But in spite of its prevalence, there still exists a tremendous amount of stigma associated with mental health conditions. That stigma can have far-reaching consequences, from limiting our understanding of these conditions to interfering with a person’s willingness to seek treatment when they truly need it.

The good news is that, culturally, we’re making some headway on that stigma. I have written and edited health content for a little over a decade, and it’s been amazing to see how the conversation around mental health has evolved in that time. Many brave people have publicly shared stories about their experiences navigating mental health conditions. And as the wellness industry has exploded, so too has our cultural understanding that being well and taking care of yourself requires tending to your mental health, and that means seeking help if you need it.  more

BS Podcast: Do People With Mental Illness Suffer from Trauma?

Many people don’t understand how mental illness, in and of itself, can be traumatic. Everything from the emotions, physical sensations, and even treatment – locked in a ward or a hospital, often against our will – is a recipe for trauma. While every person with mental illness is different, most people with serious and persistent mental illness describe being traumatized in addition to the impact of the illness itself.

In this episode of Bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and a Podcast, our hosts discuss their own traumas as they relate to living with – and getting help for – mental illness. They both recall their time receiving treatment in the psychiatric hospital and Michelle tells the story of her encounter with a police officer that ended less than ideally.  more

INSANE 100 — My Story

Just wanted to post a review of the videos I have posted so far. For those who are new, about ten years ago, I was hearing voices occasionally, I was drinking, and I was doing drugs. (I am sure that helped the voices become more intense.) Approximately five years ago, the voices became 24/7, and started to gain control of me.  This is My Story: (please like and subscribe and share w/ anyone who may be going through anything similar)  – any feedback is appreciated

Podcast: Bizarre Questions Psychiatrists and Therapists Have Asked

There is an assumption among many Americans that doctors are pretty darn smart and always know what they’re talking about. Psychiatrists work with the mentally ill, so they are certainly smarter than their patients. Because, after all, their patients are “crazy.” Right?

In this episode, our hosts discuss all the times that psychiatrists and therapists didn’t live up to the hype – or stereotype. 

Narrator: [00:00:09] For reasons that utterly escapes Everyone involved. You’re listening to A Bipolar, A Schizophrenic and A Podcast. Here are your hosts, Gabe Howard and Michelle Hammer. Thank you for tuning into A Bipolar, A Schizophrenic and A Podcast.  more

Help for the Psychiatric Ward

In almost every state in the country, the supply of inpatient psychiatric care is insufficient to meet the demand. In a 2006 survey, 34 state mental health authorities reported a shortage of beds for  acute psychiatric care.[1] The shortages mean that patients who enter an emergency room with an acute psychiatric crisis may wait days or weeks for a bed, inmates who qualify for psychiatric care may wait in jail for several months before a bed becomes available, and patients who are admitted to a psychiatric hospital are often released too soon, in order to make room for other patients. In a 2014 survey, 19 state mental health directors said the judicial system had found them in contempt, or threatened to, for failure to admit jailed inmates to psychiatric hospitals in a timely manner

Today, there are fewer than 40,000 beds in state psychiatric hospitals in the U.S., down from a peak of more than 550,000 in 1955. Despite the shortages, the number of beds continues to decline—down 13 percent since 2010.[2] As a result, thousands of persons with serious mental illness are living on the streets, or in jail, or with families who are ill-equipped to cope with the acute symptoms of mental illness. Why have the states not acted to address the issue? Why are we not providing adequate facilities for these desperately ill people?  more