November 22, 2005

Schizophrenia caused by lack of nerve cell insulation?

A new report out in the December issue of the Adolescent Psychiatry suggests that the abnormal development of the protective insulation that wraps around the wiring of the brain's nerve cells could result in a range of behavioral problems - including autism, attention deficit disorder and schizophrenia.

The lead researcher, Dr. George Bartzokis and his colleagues at the University of California in Los Angeles have studied brain scans in living humans and autopsied brains to unravel the role of myelin, the insulation material. The thicker and heavier the wrapping, the faster and more effective nerve cells can communicate.

In his latest study, published in Adolescent Psychiatry, Dr. Bartzokis and his team described the younger brain undergoing myelination and what can happen if those connections don't develop normally.

Dr. Bartzokis believes that humans brains myelinate different circuits at varying points throughout life, which may explain why the brain diseases of young people are frequently very different than those of older people.

An example is if myelin is disrupted early in life, basic circuits that govern language and social communication might not develop normally, hence autism.

If the problems develop in school-age children, the inability to process information fast and effectively might result in the development of attention deficits. Later in adolescence, problems with myelin can impair a person's ability to think clearly, a common feature of schizophrenia.

Source: Newsday, New York


I've been living in recovery from schizophrenia for a little over four years, now. At about the two year point in my recovery, my doctor and I began to dose up on my medication, because I was still experiencing 'residual' halluncinations. No amount of medicine ever took those voices away. However, about eight months ago, I started taking Omega-3 fatty acids, which help build up the myelin sheath around nerve cells in the brain. Three months later, my voices almost entirely disappeared, and I've been living with peace of mind ever since. I definitely think more research needs to be done about the relationship of the myelin sheath to disease, but if you are currently suffering from one of the above diseases, my advice would simply be---Talk to your doctor about taking Omega-3's. They worked for me!

Posted by: Chad Stafford at November 23, 2005 04:56 PM

I guess you've quite happy chad... But personaly, I'll never trust medecines can help fighting schizo. BUT I'm completely agreeding with this theory, since I had built EXACTLY the same according to my analyses. And it's somehow...frightening. I did not still see any psychiatrist or psychologist whereas I do not smell myself well since the early childhood. Analyses in analyses, I saw more and more a kind of hole in my head, of connections absent, a part of me more than forgotten; destroyed and buried. Things did nothing but worsen since, and to keep the control of myself, I unconsciously closed the doors of my sensitivity until my reason... Now I feel lost to 99%, under the influence of a demon which was nourished of me during an eternity... And which today returns to me dangerous.
Then I research of the assistance, listening and I succeeded in finding some. I found my way. WITHOUT THE DRUGS. And I guaranteed to you that all my life is filled of perverse and unverifiable impulses differently than by idleness. But I succeeded in holding, even at the edge of the pit. Then I have only one thing to say to all the schizophrenes: speak, still speak. The psychoanalysis is our only durable redemption.

Posted by: Hourayra at November 25, 2005 11:50 AM

Hourayra, you say "I'll never trust medicines can help fighting schizo." But remember if you have schizophrenia, your ability to think clearly and to trust are often harmed by the disease. It is obvious from your writing that you aren't thinking clearly. And in your unclear thinking and lack of trust, you are stopping yourself from getting help. Change that. Don't try to analyze, JUST GO to a psychiatrist and ask for help.

Posted by: Patrick at November 25, 2005 01:51 PM


My son was diganosed with Bi-polar/schizophrenia tendcies at ~ 18 (21 now), up until then normal kid. Tried every med there is, won't take most. Shots of Risperidone seemed to most effective, but eventually refused those, said he doesn't need them and doesn't help, although we saw improvements in thinking.

When did your illness begin & were you on any other meds prior to Omega-3, & what worked the best.

At my wits end, Will

Posted by: will at November 26, 2005 11:25 AM

Firstly, let me apologize for not being clearer about my medical treatment. I use Omega-3's as a complement to traditional drug therapy. I STILL TAKE ANTIPSYCHOTIC MEDICATION. Omega 3's are a great addition to my treatment plan, but they are in no way a replacement for my medicine!!


I am lucky in that I have responded very well to medication. I have been on Risperdal for a little over four years, now, with some changes in dosing.

Your son sounds a lot like I was. I stopped taking my medication at first, too. Then, I had a another psychotic break and landed in jail, where they began to medicate me, and by the time my voices subsided, I could no longer doubt that I had a mental illness.

I think it boils down to a stigma issue. People don't want to take their meds, because they associate mental illness with a personal weakness instead of a biological disease.

I can think of only two points of advice to give you.

1. Talk to your son. Make sure he realizes there is nothing wrong with taking medication. As my mom told me, most people have to take medicine daily for one reason or another.

2. See if you can convince him to come with you to a support group or mental health organization meeting, such as NAMI. He will meet others with mental illness and put a human face on it. Hopefully, this will help him realize that there is nothing wrong with having a mental illness.

That's the best I can come up with, Will. Sorry, I can't help you more. I know these must be trying times for you. Stay strong and don't forget to take care of yourself.


Posted by: Chad Stafford at November 30, 2005 12:12 PM

Yes! kudos to the people who made this discovery. It makes sense that some of my myelination occurred incorrectly in this way. I had ADD as a child, then developed schizophrenia later in life. There must be a spectrum of disorders that fit into this myelination theory, and only a few are mentioned in this article. Hopefully this will lead to cures of all brain diseases. By directly reversing the process involved in forming schizophrenia, hopefully a full cure can be developed. I find it really interesting that such a simple process could be behind the origin of schizophrenia, but I have a feeling that it's really simple only on a certain level, but unfortunately could have complex consequences. A good book with a short, concise explanation of myelin and the benefits of it is "Creating Mind: How the Brain works". In it, they explain the mystery of why humans are so smart!

Posted by: Michael Sabino at December 4, 2005 03:55 PM

I am coming to the realization that my bf whom I adore, has schizophrenia.
Is there anyone who suffers mainly with spurts of it that come and go ? Is the omega 3 thing work ? Please email me whenever I am so uneducated about this illness!
Thanks so much my email is

Posted by: Sarah Spring at December 7, 2005 10:42 AM

One thing I'd like to ask is, how does the myelination affect the brain wave activity? Does anyone know?

Posted by: Khronos at December 13, 2005 04:40 PM

i have a friend who suffers horribly from schizophrenia. he is 44 and remembers the onset, at age 19. 25 years and his own parents reinforce his delusions and still control him. watching the cycle continue, watching him deteriorate and isolate more each day is no longer an option for me. i have tried encouraging him to seek help and to at least "consider" the idea that perhaps his early teen drug use, his mother abandoning him at age 16, etc. could be linked to a "treatable condition".
he says he wants help.
he's been in bed for 38 hours and hasn't eaten a thing.
the parental units live next door. they call every day, send food over, lurk but don't intervene.
what is my next step???
you can email me at or post your reply.
and thanks.

Posted by: lolly at December 17, 2005 08:11 AM

I got a call from a VA Hospital 2 days ago telling me they had my son. I had not heard from him in 6 years because of his schizophrenia. His last memory of us was trying to get him help against his will, since he felt there was nothing wrong with him. How do I get him to acknowledge us so that we can see him/help him? His family loves him which he doesn't seem to understand. I am grateful to the counselor that called us. I was afraid with the disease, he would be found dead. I can at least breathe a sigh of relief that he is being cared for a the present but since he signed himself in, I am sure he will sign himself out if he feels threatened. Any suggestions?

Posted by: J Blomberg at January 15, 2006 07:20 AM

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