December 11, 2005

Schizophrenia and Stress

The following article is a few years old, but it is a good one and we haven't covered this area much in the past. We recommend the entire article:

Schizophrenia and Stress

Written by: Cheryl Corcoran, M.D., and Dolores Malaspina, M.D., M.S.P.H.

The more we learn about stress, the more we understand how great a role it plays in a wide range of diseases and conditions. Not surprisingly, this is especially true of psychiatric problems such as psychosis, affective illness (a category that includes manic-depression and major depression) and alcoholism.

Stress seems to be particularly harmful for those suffering from the psychiatric disorder schizophrenia. For a patient with schizophrenia, the death of a parent or other loved one, a change in therapist, moving from one apartment to another; these events can trigger acute anxiety, depression and psychotic episodes, which may lead to hospitalization. Even seemingly mildly stressful events such as a job interview or a date can have a devastating effect.

This increased susceptibility to stress fits the current thinking that schizophrenia is fundamentally related to a combination of difficulty in filtering out what is happening in the outside world and misattribution of internal thoughts and feelings, along with an inability or lessened ability to interpret social cues, all of which make it difficult for individuals with schizophrenia to cope. This is backed up by research showing that patients with schizophrenia are more affected by stress physically as well as emotionally; for instance they show different changes in heart rate under stress and a greater overall risk of cardiovascular disease.

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i clean alot, and like to walk alot, i was thinking schizophrenia

Posted by: nyaine at December 14, 2005 11:49 AM

Stress is often seen in people with schizophrenia, especially, it seems, in withdrawn cases in Western nations, who are much more likely to suffer progressive brain shrinkage and poor prognosis, compared with schizophrenia cases in poorer nations with healthier, low-fat diets (Christensen O, Acta Psychiat Scand, 1988).

Stress is a very poor and misleading name for what this condition really is--chronic anxiety disorder, which is lifelong internal brain stress, present day and night, made worse by passing stressful events, but definitely not caused by them in the first place.

Anxiety disorder affects 20-30% of Western people, and about one third of people with schizophrenia.
Anxiety is seen in the offspring of diabetic pregnancies (B. Silverman, Chicago), while Australian dietetic research has shown a link between maternal fat consumption and gestational diabetes (R Moses, Wollongong, Australia).

Maternal saturated fat consumption (the unsuspected true cause of anxiety) causes insulin resistance, sympathetic nervous activation, and elevated blood catecholamine levels in the mother; Sumita Sarkar at Brown University, Rhode Island, has shown that these catecholamines weaken the placental cortisol barrier, allowing maternal cortisol (stress hormone) to enter the baby's bloodstream.

According to Scottish neuroscientist Megan Holmes (Edinburgh University), maternal cortisol will profoundly affect fetal brain development, by programming lifelong anxiety, especially in the fear centre (the amygdala).

A simple treatment for all such anxiety, including the anxious third of the schizophrenia population, is Inositol powder supplement, 5 gm daily, or a diet rich in Inositol (corn, whole grain cereals,legumes, grapefruit, rock melon). Prof Joseph Levine, at Ben Gurion University in Israel, pioneered Inositol therapy of anxiety disorders in 1997 (see Google->Inositol->Page 1->Inositol in Psychiatry); but no trial of Inositol in general schizophrenia patients has yet appeared.

Posted by: Dr Robert Peers at December 15, 2005 04:21 AM

wife has long history of mental and physical illments now in st joseph hospital in Orang calif. Please advise her prospectes for a full recovery.
her husband. bob...

Posted by: bob turner at February 14, 2006 06:51 AM

Do you know of any reslationship/connection of schizophrenia and demntia?
Thank you.

Posted by: C Hegeman at April 25, 2006 04:03 PM

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