October 30, 2005

Excellent New Schizophrenia Research Website

There is an excellent new schizophrenia research web site called SchizophreniaForum.org - which is targeted at schizophrenia researchers around the world, and designed to help accelerate the search for preventative measures, new treatments and ultimately a cure for schizophrenia. While the web site is primarily designed for schizophrenia researchers - there is much on the site that the average person can learn from - such as the Interviews they are doing with the schizophrenia researchers in the field. Everyone can probably learn something from these interviews - and most of the information is not extremely technical. See the following link Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 10:51 PM | Comments (0)

20% of those Diagnosed with Schizophrenia are Homeless

Read more... Schizophrenia Housing
A new study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry suggests that approximately 20% of the people who are diagnosed with schizophrenia are homeless (based on a study of diagnosed patients in the San Diego, California area). Given the 2.1 million (approximately) who are thought to have schizophrenia in the USA - this would suggest a population of 400,000 people who are homeless in the US, and suffering from schizophrenia. We haven't viewed the entire study - but it would seem that the percent could actually be much higher because of the issue that so many people with schizophrenia will Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 12:04 PM | Comments (2)

October 29, 2005

Program to Reduce Child Psychiatric Drug Use

In January of 2006, an new program will be launched in the eastern Tennessee area to reduce the use of psychiatric drugs by children. The program will be a cooperative effort between TennCare (Tennessee state health care program), Magellan Behavioral Health, and the University of Tennessee College of Pharmacy. Recent years have seen a dramatic increase in the use psychotropic drugs to treat children with conduct disorders, mainly depression and ADHD. Between 1996 and 2001, new users of antipsychotics between the ages of 2-18 have nearly doubled and many in the field think that this level of use is unnecessary Read More...
Posted by Megan at 03:12 PM | Comments (0)

October 28, 2005

Damaged gene & Schizophrenia Predisposition (DISC1)

Dr. Duncan Shaw writes this week in a letter to the Guardian Newspaper (UK): My colleagues and I have just had a paper accepted by the American Journal of Medical Genetics, where we show a five times greater risk of schizophrenia in people who carry a certain version of the gene DISC1. People who have this gene disrupted by chromosome damage have almost a 50% chance of schizophrenia or a similar illness. Both of these phenomena are just differences in DNA. Prof Duncan Shaw University of Aberdeen Source: Guardian (UK), October 25, 2005 In an unrelated announcement (but relevant to Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 05:09 PM | Comments (2)

October 27, 2005

Gender Differences in Schizophrenia

A recent study by the Central Institute of Mental Health in Germany, explores gender differences in patients with schizophrenia. The study gathered data from relevant literature on the topic as well as a population-based sample of 232 people admitted to the hospital with their first illness episode. The object of the study was to determine whether gender differences in schizophrenia are due to the disease process, genetic, hormonal or structural differences in the brain, or gender-specific behavioral patterns. The possible protective effect of oestrogen is also explored. Some previous studies have found a higher incidence of schizophrenia in men than Read More...
Posted by Megan at 09:04 PM | Comments (0)

The Schizophrenia Spectrum

Recent Schizophrenia Research Reviews, By Demian Rose, MD, PhD "Brain Connectivity and the Schizophrenia Spectrum", a summary review of: Fronto-Temporal Disconnectivity in Schizotypal Personality Disorder: A Diffusion Tensor Imaging Study Introduction to the Topic There is ample evidence from family and genetic studies to suggest that schizophrenia is related to a less severe diagnosis known as “Schizotypal Personality Disorder” (SPD). The criteria for SPD share many of the criteria for a diagnosis of schizophrenia, including a pervasive pattern of disruption in social relationships, unusual sensations and perceptions, odd beliefs not consistent with cultural norms (“magical thinking”) and a restricted range Read More...
Posted by Demian Rose at 04:38 PM | Comments (0)

October 25, 2005

Saving On Medications

The Wall Street Journal noted today that "To save money on her own medications, Marilyn Stebbins, a clinical professor of pharmacy at the University of California at San Francisco, buys a "pill splitter" for $2. Prescription drugs often are priced depending on the number of pills, not on the size of the pills. So Dr. Stebbins sometimes buys her prescriptions at a higher dosage and then splits the pills in half, thereby obtaining some medications at a 50% discount. An important caveat: Check with your pharmacist about pill-splitting because it's not appropriate for all medications." Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 05:12 PM | Comments (0)

FDA May Scrap Proposal for Long Term Psych Drug Testing

The Wall Street Journal reported today that Federal regulators will "likely scrap a plan to require drug makers to submit longer-term studies on how well proposed psychiatric drugs work as a condition of approval, following a unanimous vote against the idea by a panel of outside medical experts." The Journal stated that "The pharmaceutical industry argued against requiring long-term efficacy studies before a drug is approved, saying it would delay the already lengthy process of developing new treatments. Representatives from several drug companies, including Merck & Co., Pfizer Inc. and GlaxoSmithKline PLC, testified against the FDA proposal" Dr. Laughren (of Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 05:07 PM | Comments (0)

October 24, 2005

Genetic Mutations Cause Schizophrenia

A new study by a team of international schizophrenia researchers from Stanford University, Tel Aviv University (and others) suggests they may have made a breakthrough in understanding the biological basis of schizophrenia. The findings could result in earlier diagnosis in children and young people, and lead to the development of new drugs and better treatment. The increasing proof of the biological underpinnings of schizophrenia also increases the pressure on US health insurance laws that allow lower levels of coverage for brain disorders like schizophrenia - a policy that is essentially a blatant form of genetic discrimination. The new study found Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 09:27 AM | Comments (7)

Schizophrenia - Visual Context

Read more... Schizophrenia Biology
Scientists have discovered that schizophrenia sufferers are not fooled by a visual illusion and are able to judge it more accurately than observers who do not have schizophrenia. The study by UCL (University College London) and King's College London suggests that in everyday life, people who have schizophrenia take less account of visual context. If this is part of a more general failure to deal appropriately with context, it could explain why some sufferers might misattribute people's actions or feel persecuted. The study, published in the journal Current Biology, used an illusion where an object's contrast appears reduced by its Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 07:55 AM | Comments (4)

October 22, 2005

Diet May Affect Outcome of Schizophrenia

It is well known that diet affects a person's physical health and can lead to conditions such as diabetes and coronary heart disease. But can your diet affect your mental health as well? An article in the British Journal of Psychiatry suggests that it does. In order to asses international differences in the outcome of schizophrenia, the article reviewed evidence from the International Pilot Study of Schizophrenia (World Health Organization, 1979) and the Determinants of Outcome of Severe Mental Disorders study (Jablensky et al, 1992). Outcome was rated by the number of days spent in hospital and general social impairment. Read More...
Posted by Megan at 07:21 PM | Comments (1)

October 21, 2005

Facial recognition and social function

Recent Schizophrenia Research Reviews, By Demian Rose, MD, PhD Welcome to what I hope will become a regular presence at Schizophrenia.com, Recent Research Reviews. My intent with this column is to regularly summarize a new study that will help the casual reader attain a context for where the field of schizophrenia research is headed, and what the current data can tell us about this disease. To give you a little background about myself, I am finishing up a 4-year training program in psychiatry at the University of California at San Francisco, and have therefore had several years of experience working Read More...
Posted by Demian Rose at 04:57 PM | Comments (1)

October 20, 2005

U.S. Gives Florida a Sweeping Right to Curb Medicaid

The New York Times reported today that there are likely to be some major new changes that further limit and reduce the amount spent for medical treatment of the country's poorest citizens (which frequently includes those with brain disorders such as schizophrenia). Medicaid provides health insurance to more than 50 million low-income people. The states and federal government jointly finance it.: "The Bush administration approved a sweeping Medicaid plan for Florida on Wednesday that limits spending for many of the 2.2 million beneficiaries there and gives private health plans new freedom to limit benefits." Additionally, the Times states: "The Florida Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 03:51 PM | Comments (0)

Britain Upgrades Mental Health Facilities

Read more... Schizophrenia Coping
The BBC News today reported that Britain is embarking on a major upgrade to its mental health hospitals: Mental health facilities are among the oldest in the NHS An extra £130m will be spent on upgrading mental health hospitals and facilities, the government has announced. Regional health bosses will be given the money next year to invest in ageing wards and intensive care units. Mental health facilities are among the oldest in the NHS with facilities so poor in some areas that patients have to be assessed in police stations. Campaigners said the money was desperately needed. Over a third Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 03:14 PM | Comments (0)

Budget Cuts Hurting those with Brain Disorders

Rocky mountain news, in Denver, Colorado reports that in that state the people with brain disorders are seeing serious cuts to their programs. As is usually the case this is extremly short sighted, and the people they prematurely take out of support programs may end up costing the State much more in jailing costs or other areas. "Tryon is among the hundreds of severely mentally ill patients who got kicked out of Colorado's community mental health centers in recent years. Some, like Tryon, found other therapy. Hundreds more are unaccounted for. They could be in jail, homeless, dead or in Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 01:23 PM | Comments (1)

Brain imaging for Schizophrenia - Not There Yet

The New York Times had a good article this past weekend on how research in brain imaging has been in development for quite a number of years, and is helping scientists understand brain disorders at new and better levels. This research, however, is not yet ready for clinical applications that would start helping people directly (for example in diagnosis) because the "resolution" of the imaging technology is not to the level that it needs to be, and costs are high. The good news is that research in many other areas are showing significant results (read about other new diagnosis tools) Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 01:05 PM | Comments (1)

Fund Raiser for Early Treatment Program - Canada

Research has shown that early treatment for schizophrenia (as soon as any symptoms show up) helps improve the chances for the best outcome. Canadians are taking this to heart and are establishing a nationwide network of early psychosis (schizophrenia) treatment centers. Sadly, the USA is far behind many of the developed countries in this area of getting early treatment for people suffering from schizophrenia. Local groups in Canada are even fund raising to improve staffing levels at these new centers: In Windsor, Ontario The second annual Big Night Gala to raise funds for mental disorders will be held Nov. 11 Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 12:45 PM | Comments (0)

FDA: Long-term studies before approving Meds?

FDA officials are considering requiring drug manufacturers to conduct longer-term studies of psychiatric medications, such as antidepressants, antipsychotics and other treatments for long-term psychiatric conditions, the Wall Street Journal reports. FDA now requires short-term clinical studies that typically last three months to be completed prior to approval, and drug companies sometimes conduct long-term research, which can take two to three years, after drugs reach the market. Documents posted on the FDA Web site state that the agency has been asking for "longer-term efficacy data" on antidepressants for the past six months, the Journal reports. Thomas Laughren, acting director of FDA's Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 12:35 PM | Comments (0)

Homeless shelters are de facto mental institutions

This is a story out of Australia, but it is equally true in the USA, Canada and many other countries. It seems like an ideal opportunity for action for advocates of the mentally ill, and religious groups that are interested in helping people less fortunate. I would correct the story in only one area. Where they say that "homeless shelters are the community's de facto mental health institutions" - the truth is really that both homeless shelters and jails are the de facto mental health institutions. "Homeless shelters are the community's de facto mental health institutions and governments should allocate Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 12:28 PM | Comments (2)

Attitudes Toward Antipsychotic Medication

Good relationships with clinicians during admission to acute treatment may improve attitudes toward and adherence to antipsychotic medication, according to UK researchers. The study examined various factors that may influence medication compliance, including psychiatric symptoms and lack of insight, as well as factors related to the therapeutic relationship, including the client's perception of the degree of coercion during admission to hospital and the attitudes of inpatient staff. The study involved 228 clients in eight inpatient acute care wards in Wales and England who were diagnosed with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder. It was found that good insight, lack of coercion during Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 12:21 PM | Comments (0)

Anti-stigma campaigns target violence stereotype

According to a new study done by researchers at the University of Leipzig in Germany, campaigns aimed at reducing stigma and discrimination toward people with schizophrenia would be most effective if they addressed perceptions of unpredictability and dangerousness. In the study performed by the researchers, a fictional case scenario was presented to 5,025 people, describing an individual who met the scientific criteria for schizophrenia or major depressive disorder. Participants were asked to describe the problem presented. Responses were grouped into four categories: correct psychiatric diagnosis, other psychiatric illness, personal problem or other. Participants then indicated whether the individual was unpredictable Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 11:49 AM | Comments (0)

October 19, 2005

Presentation: New Treatments for Schizophrenia

As we reported on back in August, Stanford University held a day-long public education program on Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder on July 30th. (See our coverage of the Schizophrenia & Bipolar day here) Today we are adding the slides from the presentation for your further education. We encourage you to review both the reporting on the event, and the slide show (at the link below). Stanford University Schizophrenia "New Treatments" Presentation Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 07:57 PM | Comments (0)

Bifeprunox (new drug) status update

A recent analyst presentation by Solvay pharmaceuticals suggests the their new schizophrenia drug (Bifeprunox) is moving forward. In the report it stated: "There was no new research announced on bifeprunox, an atypical antipsychotic drug, although Solvay noted that headline data from its full Phase III program (three placebo-controlled trials and two active reference controlled studies in around 2,600 patients) will be released before year-end. The Lehman analysts forecast a 40% probability of a launch in 2007 and worldwide peak turnover of $ 1.5 billion." Source: PharmaMarketletter Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 06:47 PM | Comments (2)

Life on the Streets of Los Angeles

There is an excellent series of stories on the homeless (many of whom have schizophrenia) in the Los Angeles Times this week. We encourage you to review them: From Skid Row to Disney Hall - chronicles the life of a Nathaniel Ayers. Nathaniel was a music student more than 30 years ago at the prestigious Juilliard School when he suffered a breakdown. Today, as he continues to battle the schizophrenia that landed him on skid row, music is one of the few things that inspires and consoles him. He plays violin and cello for hours each day in downtown Los Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 02:50 PM | Comments (0)

October 14, 2005

Treatment of Adolescent and Child Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is much less common in children than in adults. Where about 1 in 100 adults suffer from schizophrenia, only about 1/3 of those people (1 in 300) showed symptoms before age 18 and only about 1 in 10,000 children develop the disease before the age of 12. Much less is known about schizophrenia in children and adolescents than in adults. Current thinking suggests that child onset schizophrenia is simply a more severe form of the disease. However, clinical experience in the treatment of youth with major depressive disorder and bipolar disorder, which are more common, has shown that children Read More...
Posted by Megan at 09:24 PM | Comments (0)

October 13, 2005

New Schizophrenia Ireland web site

Ireland's first website dedicated solely to schizophrenia has been launched. The site, recover.ie, was developed by support group, Schizophrenia Ireland (SI). Around 41,000 people in Ireland are directly affected by this condition, along with their carers, families and friends. The website is a comprehensive database of information, looking at the condition within an Irish context. It includes information on getting help, the recovery process, challenging stigma, legal issues, entitlements and employment. It also include details on the warning signs of suicide. The site can be accessed at... http://www.recover.ie Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 11:32 AM | Comments (1)

October 12, 2005

Art Against Stigma

This just in from one of our visitors - LC says: There is a new art exhibition going on around Europe called "Art Against Stigma". The exhibition includes paintings by artists with psychiatric disorders and without them in an attempt to show the public that in art we are all the same; there's no difference, no stigma. You can see the collection here: Art Against Stigma Exhibit The date of the exhibition in the U.S. has not been set yet. In the meantime, please spread the word and let other people know about this amazing project. Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 05:02 PM | Comments (3)

The Causes of Schizophrenia

The August issue of Psychiatric Times has a very good summary of the current state of the scientific understanding of the causes of schizophrenia. If you are not fully up to date on this - we encourage you to read it: The Role of Genetic and Environmental Factors in the Development of Schizophrenia By Jonathan Picker, Ph.D. "Schizophrenia appears to be a disorder of development that results from a series of neurological insults from fetal life onward (Rapoport et al., 2005). Whether or not schizophrenia manifests appears to be the result of a conglomeration of these factors, both genetic and Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 04:10 PM | Comments (7)

Management of Antipsychotic-Induced Weight Gain

Read more... Schizophrenia Coping
There is a good article on weight management (written for health care professionals, but probably readable by any college educated adult) is in last month's Psychiatric Times. "The prevalence of obesity has reached epidemic proportions in the United States. These numbers are on the rise for all ages and ethnic groups. Being overweight or obese can have detrimental effects on both the physical and emotional well-being of an individual and is an immediate risk factor for cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome (Fontaine and Barofsky, 2001; Yancy et al., 2002). Epidemiological studies have shown a strong correlation between psychiatric illness and Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 04:02 PM | Comments (0)

rTMS for Schizophrenia shows progress

A new presentation reports that repetative transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS)which allows for "direct activation of neurons, will play an ever-expanding role in depression and schizophrenia treatment, according to recent reports from Mark S. George, M.D., and Alan L. Schneider, M.D. George, who is distinguished professor of psychiatry, radiology and neurology, and director of the Brain Stimulation Laboratory at the Medical University of South Carolina College of Medicine" reported "Psychiatric Times" As we've reported in the past, few studies have evaluated rTMS use for the treatment of schizophrenia. Dr. Schneider stated to Psychiatric Times that he and colleagues are getting close Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 03:47 PM | Comments (2)

Topiramate add-on in treatment-resistant schizophrenia

Cross-over trial of topiramate add-on for treatment-resistant schizophrenia A new study on Topiramate suggests: * Topiramate 300 mg/day improves general but not positive/negative psychotic symptoms * Topiramate could have value for ameliorating depressive symptoms The results of a cross-over trial published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry confirmed the hypothesis that topiramate may be an effective adjuvant treatment for those with treatment-resistant schizophrenia. In this randomized, double-blind trial, topiramate showed significant advantage over placebo in reducing general psychotic symptoms, although no significant improvement was seen in positive or negative symptoms. The study authors note that the greatest reductions with topiramate Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 03:38 PM | Comments (1)

Antipsychotic polypharmacy widespread, but limited evidence

A study published in the Brown University Psychopharmacology Update (October 1, 2005) suggests that antipsychotic polypharmacy (the taking of many antipsychotic drugs at the same time) continues to be widespread; but the evidence for effectiveness is limited. As a counterpoint - the study was carried out by Eli Lilly - (makers of Zyprexa, the leading drug on the market) - so the results may be biased. It seems that the issue of polypharmacy is something that the NIMH should, if it hasn't already, take up in one of their studies (so that doctors and patients can get an unbiased view Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 03:27 PM | Comments (0)

1 in 7 Hospitalizations related to Brain Disorders (Canada)

One in Seven Hospitalizations in Canada Involve Patients Diagnosed With Mental Illness; Latest mental health data show that patients diagnosed with a mental illness remain in the hospital twice as long as other patients. A new report from the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) reveals that patients with a primary diagnosis of mental illness accounted for 6% of the 2.8 million hospital stays in 2002-2003. Another 9% of hospital stays involved patients with a non- psychiatric primary diagnosis and an associated mental illness. Combined, these hospital stays accounted for one-third of the total number of days patients spent in Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 03:18 PM | Comments (1)

Australia - Mental Illness Common, Survey Suggests

Survey finds mental illness levels high ACCORDING to a new survey from Mission Australia, 76 per cent of clients from its Personal Support Program (PSP) and 26 per cent of those participating in its Jobs Placement Employment and Training Program (JPET) -- both of which are Commonwealth Government funded employment programs managed by the organisation suffer mental illness. The results are contained in a new publication Mental Health: A Critical Contemporary Issue to coincide with Mental Health Week (October 9 to 16). Mission Australia surveyed staff who work with almost 3000 clients in 43 PSP and 13 JPET sites across Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 03:14 PM | Comments (0)

October 11, 2005

Early Treatment Confirmed as Optimal for Best Outcome

A new study in the American Journal of Psychiatry (October, 2005) confirms that studies have increasingly been showing the past few years - the the early that someone who is starting to show symptoms of schizophrenia, gets treatment - the better the outcome for that person. In the study, Dr. Perkins and colleagues combined the data from 43 different studies addressing the question: "Does prolonged duration of untreated psychosis influence outcome?" They report, as have other studies on this topic over the past few years, that the greater the interval between the onset of psychosis and its treatment, the greater Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 01:33 PM | Comments (7)

October 08, 2005

Biological Basis of Hallucinations

Read more... Schizophrenia Biology
Hallucinations are a common symptom of schizophrenia. The paper reviewed here discusses a relatively new theory, which proposes that hallucinations and psychotic behavior are the result of the uncoupling of sensory input from perception. Information about the world around us is collected by different kinds of sensory receptors (visual, auditory, tactile, olfactory, and taste) and travels to different parts of the brain specialized for processing a specific kind of sensory information. For example visual information travels to the visual cortex in the occipital lobe of the brain and auditory information travels to auditory cortex in the temporal lobe. From Read More...
Posted by Megan at 01:04 PM | Comments (6)

October 05, 2005

How Mentally Ill in Norway are Treated

An excerpt from a column written by Steve Lopez, of the Los Angeles Times: "The timing was perfect. I had just asked a Yale professor why there are no mentally ill people living on the streets of Norway, where he helped design some of the most progressive mental health treatment in the world. Then a colleague mentioned she was working on a story about Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies dumping a mentally ill man on skid row in downtown Los Angeles, where thousands of chronically ill people sleep on filthy, rat-infested streets. ... I have to say I don't quite Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 09:45 AM | Comments (8)

October 02, 2005

Mental Illness Awareness Week

The week of October 5th is National Mental Illness Awareness Week. For more information go to: www.mentalhealth.samhsa.gov/ The Campaign for the Mind of America is a multi-year effort on many fronts to promote investment in recovery and to prevent the abandonment of yet another generation of Americans with mental illnesses to neglect and hopelessness. The Campaign highlights the need to build a comprehensive, efficient system to screen, evaluate, diagnose and treat mental illnesses at every stage of life. This year, NAMI (National Alliance for the Mentally Ill) organized a series of walks across the country to raise money and awareness Read More...
Posted by Megan at 04:21 PM | Comments (1)

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