March 30, 2006

Diffusion Tensor Imaging for Schizophrenia

Read more... Schizophrenia Biology
The Technology Review has (published by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology) has an excellent article on how Kelvin Lim is using a new brain-imaging method to understand schizophrenia. The article mentions: "Flipping through a pile of brain scans, a neurologist or psychiatrist would be hard pressed to pick out the one that belonged to a schizophrenic. Although schizophrenics suffer from profound mental problems -- hallucinated conversations and imagined conspiracies are the best known -- their brains look more or less normal. This contradiction fascinated Kelvin Lim, a neuroscientist and psychiatrist at the University of Minnesota Medical School, when he began Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 05:35 PM | Comments (1)

New Effort to Decode Schizophrenia Genetics

The MIND (Mental Illness and Neuroscience Discovery) Institute and the National Center for Genome Resources (NCGR) announced today the establishment of a pioneering research partnership to identify the genetic basis of schizophrenia. The Schizophrenia Genome Project (SGP) will combine resources and expertise from these leading research centers to identify schizophrenia predisposition and protection genes. The risk of developing schizophrenia is widely considered to be directly related to those genes. Investigators at MIND and NCGR will identify common schizophrenia genes by sequencing and analyzing the entire genetic code (three billion base pairs of DNA) of affected individuals to discover all mutation Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 04:52 PM | Comments (6)

Insurance coverage for Mentally Ill - Not very expensive

The New York Times reported today that a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that parity in insurance coverage for mental illnesses (that is, brain disorders like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression) does not drive up the cost as insurance providers have feared. Traditionally in the US the insurance coverage for mental illness treatments is poor - with the result that many of the people who develop schizophrenia don't get adequate medical attention and instead end up in the country's prisons (at a much higher cost to the tax payer). The story reported: President Bill Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 04:31 PM | Comments (0)

March 29, 2006

New Book: Crazy: A Father's Search Through America's Mental Health Madness

There is a new book written by a parent who has stuggled with the mental healthcare system (and as is too commonly the case, also the criminal justice system) in the US. The book is titled: Crazy: A Father's Search Through America's Mental Health Madness. its written by Pete Earley. Highly Recommended reading for any advocate of the mentally ill. A brief description of the book is as follows: Pete Earley had no idea. He'd been a journalist for over thirty years, and the author of several award-winning nonfiction books about crime and punishment and society. Yet he'd always been Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 12:41 PM | Comments (18)

Greater Need, Less Help - Alabama

If you live in Alabama, the message is very clear: don't get sick. Birmingham News reported this week that demand for mental health services is climbing quickly, but resources are being cut significantly. In a story titled "No room for mentally ill Commitments up, but cuts in psych beds limit treatment" the Birmingham News stated: "There is the frail, silver-haired senior citizen who won't take her life-saving medicine, the obese woman convinced she's married to a celebrity and a wiry twenty-something who tried to kill himself and wound up in jail. These are just a few of the mentally ill Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 12:24 PM | Comments (2)

March 27, 2006

Schizophrenia linked to Auto-immune Diseases

Read more... Schizophrenia Biology
The March issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry included a paper in which Dr. William W. Eaton, (Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore), and colleagues examined the association between schizophrenia and a range of autoimmune diseases by evaluating three databases. Included in the analysis were 7704 people diagnosed with schizophrenia between 1981 and 1998 and their parents, as well as a ramdom sample of people chosen as controls and their parents. It was reported that people with a history of one or more autoimmune diseases had a 45 percent higher risk of schizophrenia, according to the authors. Schizophrenia patients had a Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 06:24 PM | Comments (2)

March 23, 2006

The Iraq War and Serviceman Mental Illness

As should be expected the high-stress of participating in the Iraq war combined with the fact that many US servicemen (and women) come from under-priviledged backgrounds (i.e. low income, poor nutrition, poor social environments, and high stress urban households - all of which are factors that have been linked with increased risk of mental illness) is resulting in the triggering of very high rates of mental illness in US servicemen and women. The high stress of war is the last place you would want to place these high-risk people. The San Diego Tribune further reported that because of the shortfalls Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 09:37 AM | Comments (2)

Cannabis and Psychosis (schizophrenia) Update

A new review article has been pulished in the Public Library of Science (Medicine) on the connection between Cannabis (Marijuana) and psychosis (schizophrenia is one type of psychosis). The journal article writes: Cannabis use and psychotic symptoms and disorders are associated in the population and in persons with schizophrenia. The major explanations of this association have been that: (1) cannabis use precipitates schizophrenia in persons who are vulnerable to the disorder, (2) cannabis is used to self-medicate symptoms of schizophrenia, or (3) the association arises from uncontrolled confounding by variables that predict an increased risk of both cannabis use and Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 09:17 AM | Comments (0)

March 22, 2006

New UK Early Psychosis Treatment Center

While the US moves very slowly to open early treatment facilities for schizophrenia (psychosis), other countries like Canada, Australia and the UK are moving at a rapid pace, with early treatment centers already established in larger cities and counties. What does these countries know that the US doesn't? The research on early schizophrenia diagnosis and treatment is available for all to see, but in the US we seem much more interested in putting the mentally ill into jails, at much higher cost - than investing in education, prevention, early detection and treatment. This week a new center in the UK Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 01:20 PM | Comments (1)

The Economic Burden of Schizophrenia in Canada

A new report has come out that looks at the economic costs of schizophrenia in Canada during the 2004 year. The goal of the study was to estimate the financial burden of schizophrenia in Canada in 2004. Methods: A prevalence-based cost-of-illness (COI) approach was used. The primary sources of information for the study included a review of the published literature, a review of published reports and documents, secondary analysis of administrative datasets, and information collected directly from various federal and provincial government programs and services. The literature review included publications up to April 2005 reported in MedLine, EMBASE and PsychINFO. Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 01:08 PM | Comments (0)

Prison, Discrimination and the Mentally ill

The mentally ill comprise a group of people that often faces discrimination. This week Prof. Hal Smith, psychiatry professor at State University of New York, spoke at Cornell University on the misconceptions often associated with mentally disabled offenders. "I spent my entire career working exclusively with mentally disabled offenders. I hope to contribute some things to this topic and the understanding here at Cornell," Smith said. "I'm pretty much freelance now. I don't speak on behalf of any public or private entity. All of these opinions are my own." Smith first pointed out that many of our conceptions of the Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 12:43 PM | Comments (0)

Columbia University Gets $200M for Neuroscience Center

Columbia University (in New York city) announced Monday that it has received a record $200 million from the widow of a distinguished graduate and will use the money to build a research center devoted to the study of the brain. The Jerome L. Greene Science Center will study such disorders as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, autism, dementia and schizophrenia. It will be led by neurobiologist Thomas Jessell and Nobel laureates Richard Axel and Eric Kandel. Greene, who graduated from Columbia College in 1926 and from the university's law school in 1928, was a lawyer and real estate investor. He died in 1999. Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 12:33 PM | Comments (1)

New Device to Help in Schizophrenia Diagnosis

It was reported in Japan this week that a research group from Japan's Nihon University School of Medicine has developed a diagnostic instrument that helps doctors by providing an objective measurement they can use when diagnosing schizophrenia. The group has applied to patent the procedure in Japan and hopes to develop a practical version of the machine in cooperation with measuring instrument maker Nac Image Technology Inc. It was reported that the new device is made of a special "goggle" type display that the patient looks into, and a personal computer for analyzing eye movements as he or she tracks Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 12:16 PM | Comments (3)

How important is early care for schizophrenia?

In the latest issue of Harvard's Mental Health Letter, Michael Craig Miller, M.D. Editor in Chief, suggests that research is showing that early treatment of schizophrenia is very important (a fact we've reported on many times in the past few years). In the article, Dr. Miller reports that the mental health of people with schizophrenia decreases most significantly in the first few years after the diagnosis, and they respond less well to treatment over time and after repeated psychotic episodes. Dr. Miller suggests that the first episode of psychosis (hallucinations and delusions) should be treated as soon and as thoroughly Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 12:05 PM | Comments (2)

March 20, 2006

Schizophrenia - Are Drugs Always Needed?

A new scientific paper will be coming out at the end of the month that asks whether antipsychotic medications are always needed in treatment of schizophrenia. As reported in today's New York Times, some research suggests that medications are not necesarily needed all the time. While the research seems solid, the concern that we would have is that with schizophrenia its common that the person who has schizophrenia frequently isn't the best judge as to whether medications are the best solution or not - given that by definition, if a person has schizophrenia he or she has a thought disorder. Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 09:48 PM | Comments (4)

March 14, 2006

Man who has Schizophrenia Climbing Everest

An English man is preparing for the first stages of an epic challenge to become the first person to climb Mount Everest while battling severe mental illness. Stuart Baker-Brown, who was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia in 1996, plans to scale the world's tallest peak in April next year. The 41-year-old, is due to begin his preparation for the 8,848m Everest ascent with a five-week expedition to climb Mera Peak, a 6,500m mountain in Nepal, on March 20. Through his Everest expedition Mr Baker-Brown is aiming to send a message of encouragement to the estimated 250,000 Britons diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia Read More...
Posted by at 11:19 AM | Comments (3)

Hospitalized schizophrenia patients and medical complications

Hospitalized patients with schizophrenia more likely to have medical and surgical complications Decreased quality of care likely to blame, researchers conclude A Johns Hopkins study of more than 1,700 patients with schizophrenia hospitalized for medical or surgical care unrelated to their mental disorder shows they are at least twice as likely as similar patients without schizophrenia to suffer dangerous and expensive adverse events. The adverse events are associated with poor outcomes, including death. The researchers concluded that decreased quality of care given to patients with schizophrenia may put them at higher risk for serious infections and other complications. A report Read More...
Posted by at 07:13 AM | Comments (0)

March 13, 2006

Schizophrenia, Nicotine and Smoking - Special Report

We've just published our special report on Schizophrenia, Nicotine and Smoking. In the report we offer what we hope is a practical guide to help people reduce the health & financial burdens of cigarette addiction. The report consists of a two-page summary (see following excerpt): Research during the past decade has revealed that nicotine is an especially addictive substance for people with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Approximately 85% of people who have schizophrenia are also heavy cigarette smokers ( approximately 70% of people with bipolar disorder); smoking two to three times as much as an average smoker. In fact it Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 03:26 PM | Comments (1)

Marijuana's impact on the Brain

While not specifically tied to the issue of schizophrenia - more scientific research has just come out demonstrating negative effects of marijuana use on the brain. And - less you think we have some bias against cannabis / marijuana - we were actually pretty ambivalent about it until all the research starting coming out on the negative effects on people's brain. This is relevant to people who have schizophrenia and continue to use marijuana - because it makes recovery even more difficult which is particularly important given that schizophrenia already negatively impacts cognitive abilities in many people. The New Scientist Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 10:12 AM | Comments (5)

March 11, 2006

Art by People living with Psychosis (podcast)

ABC Australia has published this "Podcast": For some individuals living with psychosis art-making becomes an act of necessity, a way to bring coherence to experiences that threaten to overwhelm. We meet an artist whose hallucinatory episodes serve as inspiration for paintings and drawings as we learn about the fascinating history of 'Outsider Art'. Click here to reach the Podcast (an MP3 recording that you download to your computer to listen to). A broadband internet connection (xDSL or cable) is best. Outsider Art - Podcast Read More...
Posted by at 01:54 AM | Comments (1)

March 10, 2006

Schizophrenia is actually Bipolar Disorder?

Read more... Schizophrenia Biology
As we've covered previously - research has increasingly shown that bipolar disorder and schizophrenia are related in genetics studies, and the symptoms are really more of a continuum than discrete disorders (see Stanford University presentation on this topic from last summer)(presentation slides here). Some researchers are suggesting that schizophrenia may just be another type of bipolar disorder. At some level I suspect it comes down to an issue of semantics - and ultimately doctors treat the symptoms. In the recent issue of Current Psychiatry, they discusses this issue in the article titled "Schizophrenia is psychotic bipolar disorder? What a polarizing Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 11:47 PM | Comments (6)

Yale increases research into rTMS for schizophrenia

Yale expands research using repetative transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) for schizophrenia Yale School of Medicine researchers are recruiting patients nationally for a clinical trial using repetative transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) to help still the voices that are so troubling to some persons with schizophrenia. "These hallucinations, which consist of spoken speech that are labeled 'voices' by patients themselves, are often very disabling and resistant to currently available medication therapies," said Ralph Hoffman, M.D., a professor in the Department of Psychiatry and principal investigator of the study. Hoffman has received a $2.1 million, five-year grant from the National Institute of Mental Read More...
Posted by at 04:36 AM | Comments (2)

March 08, 2006

North Carolina Patients discharged to homeless shelters

The Winston-Salem Journal reported this week that increasingly, North Carolina mental patients are being discharged to homeless shelters. The paper noted: "North Carolina treated and sent 1,140 mental-health patients such as Dobbins to homeless shelters in 2004, compared with 763 in 2000, according to state records. Mental-health advocates accuse the state of having no consistent plan to care for thousands of homeless patients once they're discharged from a state hospital and leaving the responsibility to shelters that are ill-equipped to manage those patients. Without such care, many patients are ending up back on the street, they say. North Carolina health Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 04:19 PM | Comments (0)

Caregivers Need Care - Report Finds

A New Zealand study that just came out highlights the challenge that families face when a son or daughter suffers from schizophrenia. The full report is available for download and viewing at the bottom of this news story. While the study was done in New Zealand - most of the issues are the same for care givers around the world. A local New Zealand newspaper reported that "An advocacy group is calling for better services for schizophrenics as new research shows family caregivers often end up quitting jobs and suffering stress and anxiety. More than half of the caregivers in Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 03:59 PM | Comments (2)

$600,000 Canadian donation to Support Group

In Peterborough, Canada this week, it was announced that a family donated $600,000 to the Ontario chapter of Schizophrenia Society of Canada. We hope more families consider this approach to helping people who have schizophrenia. Specifically, it was reported: "The Grant family of Lakefield has made the largest known donation to the Schizophrenia Society of Ontario, says the agency's president Len Wall. Wall accepted the $600,000 donation from the late Bill and Marg Grant, whose son Tam suffered from schizophrenia, at the agency's Peterborough office on George Street North yesterday. "To my knowledge, it's the biggest one ever," Wall said. Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 03:55 PM | Comments (0)

March 05, 2006

Schizophrenia - Prevention and Early Interventions

There is a good article covering the latest research into the prevention of schizophrenia and early interventions that might lessen the severity of the illness - in the February issue of Psychiatric Times (a news source for psychiatrists). The story notes: It was not too long ago that the management of schizophrenia was generally viewed as pessimistic, and focused primarily on symptom relief. Over the past two decades, there has been a paradigm shift in our approach to the overall management of schizophrenia, toward preventive and early interventions. These approaches are being increasingly guided by recent pathophysiological models. In particular, Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 09:52 PM | Comments (2)

Book: If Your Adolescent Has Schizophrenia...

There is a new book out that has been written for parents of adolescent children who have schizophrenia. The book is titled: If Your Adolescent Has Schizophrenia: An Essential Resource for Parents . The Authors are Raquel E. Gur and Ann Braden Johnson.The book is published by Oxford University Press, $9.95 paper (160p) ISBN 0195182111 A recent review by Publisher's weekly suggest that Gur and Johnson present a solid overview of schizophrenia in this current, accessible volume, which, though geared toward parents, will also be useful for educators and guidance counselors. The authors (Gur teaches psychiatry, neurology and radiology at Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 09:36 PM | Comments (0)

March 02, 2006

Understanding the Glass Ceiling for Outcome in Schizophrenia

Another good editorial article - somewhat technical in nature (because its written primarily for psychiatrists) but very educational for people who want to stay up on the latest research. The full story is linked to at the bottom. Understanding the Glass Ceiling for Functional Outcome in Schizophrenia CAMERON S. CARTER, M.D. Despite the widespread availability of medications that suppress psychosis and prevent relapse, most patients with schizophrenia function poorly in the community and few lead fully independent lives. This has led researchers to identify factors other than psychosis that are associated with poor functional outcome. Perhaps not surprisingly, impaired cognition Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 10:16 PM | Comments (0)

Targeting Schizophrenia Research to Patient Outcomes

Another APA editorial touches upon the issue of how increasingly research is being targeted to help improve patient outcomes. Following is a short excerpt. A link to the full story is at the bottom. Targeting Schizophrenia Research to Patient Outcomes WILLIAM T. CARPENTER Jr., M.D. Baltimore, Md. Mental disorders represent four of the top 10 categories of disease disability worldwide. In schizophrenia this disability is clearly evident in employment. In this issue of the Journal, Rosenheck and colleagues report analyses of data from the Clinical Antipsychotic Trials of Intervention Effectiveness (CATIE) project, which involved more than 1,400 patient participants and Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 10:12 PM | Comments (0)

Are Psych. Doctors Talking to Patients Enough?

A well-known psychiatrist/researcher in New Mexico (Dr. Samuel Keith) has written a good editorial in the American Journal of Psychiatry about cognitive behavior therapy and its potential for an increased role in the USA (but at the same time encourages people to be skeptical of unrealistic expectations). The editorial is written for other psychiatrists - but the topic is relevant to anyone involved in mental healthcare. Following is a brief excerpt from the editorial. If you find it of interest, we encourage you to read the entire article at the link below. Are We Still Talking to Our Patients With Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 05:22 PM | Comments (0)

March 01, 2006

NAMI gives US Mental Healthcare System a 'D' Grade

New NAMI Report - Nation's Mental Healthcare System Gets 'D' Grade; NAMI Report Flunks Illinois, Iowa, Six Other States Wednesday March 1, 12:01 am ET (Source: NAMI) The United States gets a D grade in helping adults with serious mental illnesses, according to the first state-by- state report on the nation's mental healthcare system in more than 15 years. "Grading the States: A Report on America's Health Care System for Serious Mental Illnesses," funded by the Stanley Foundation, was released by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). The 230-page report, including individual state narratives and scoring tables, is available Read More...
Posted by at 12:06 AM | Comments (0)

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