October 30, 2006

COMT Gene Variant May Contribute to Manic Symptoms

The catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) gene is involved in both the metabolism of dopamine as well as norepinephrine. New research shows that this gene may be associated with an increased risk for the co-existing symptom of mania in schizophrenia. Through its regulation of the neurotransmitter norepinephrine, the COMT genotype may modify the clinical presentation of schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder by influencing the severity of manic symptoms. This would be consistent with an existing noradrenergic model of mania. Read the full story: Manic symptoms provide clue to COMT and schizophrenia relationship Further reading about the association of the COMT gene and psychiatric illnesses: Read More...
Posted by Jeanie Wolfson at 04:44 PM | Comments (2)

Neuregulin Gene Gains More Support as Schizophrenia Risk Gene

The BBC news service reported that yet another study has come out in support of the Neuregulin gene as being a likely schizophrenia risk gene. The BBC noted "An Edinburgh University team found people carrying a variant of a gene called neuregulin had a higher chance of developing psychotic symptoms". The findings, published in the journal Nature Neuroscience, could possibly point to new treatments. The study followed 200 young people, all at a high risk of developing schizophrenia, for 10 years. To investigate why some people go on to develop the condition and why others do not, the researchers carried Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 03:30 PM | Comments (0)

October 29, 2006

Global Visual Scanning Abnormalities Found In Schizophrenia Differ From Bipolar Disorder

Some people with schizophrenia reportedly scan pictures with social content (i.e., faces) differently than normal controls, making it difficult for them to read facial expressions. One group of patients with schizophrenia and another group with bipolar disorder were compared with a control group without these illnesses to determine if there were differences between the groups in scanning pictures devoid of social content (such as landscapes, fractals and noise patterns) as well as pictures with social content. It was found that the group with schizophrenia had impairment scanning both types of images – not just ones with social content – reflecting Read More...
Posted by Jeanie Wolfson at 11:52 AM | Comments (2)

October 27, 2006

Breastfeeding Boosts Baby Mental Health

A new study has found that babies that are breastfed for longer than six months have significantly better mental health in childhood. The findings are based on data from the Australian Raine Study at the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, that has tracked the growth and development of more than 2500 West Australian children over the past 16 years. Researcher Dr Wendy Oddy said there was growing evidence that bioactive factors in breast milk played an important role in the rapid early brain development that occurs in the first year of life. "Even when we adjust the results to Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 03:30 PM | Comments (7)

Cognitive Remediation Therapy Effective in Patients With Schizophrenia

A study of cognitive remediation therapy (CRT) was performed in order to determine its effectiveness when used in outpatients with schizophrenia. CRT, designed to improve neurocognitive (attention, memory and organization) functioning, was compared in a head-to-head study of patients with schizophrenia to cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which is designed to enhance psychosocial (social, psychological, behavioral) functioning. CRT and CBT each provided improvements in different areas of functioning. CRT was found to be more effective than CBT for improving deficits in psychomotor speed, verbal memory, nonverbal memory, and executive function. Patients assigned to the CBT group however, showed improvement in depressive Read More...
Posted by Jeanie Wolfson at 12:44 PM | Comments (2)

October 25, 2006

Stem Cells May Help Treat Mental Illness

A Korean news service announced this week that a team of international scientists has found through rodent experiments that embryonic stem cells may have potential use in the treatment of psychological disorders, such as depression, and potentially schizophrenia. This important area of research seems to offer hope for a cure. Investment by the US National Institute of Health in this area could significantly speed up the research which is currently stalled due to a veto by President Bush. Drs. Miles Cunningham and Kim Kwang-soo at Harvard Medical School and Professor Kim Dong-wook at Yonsei University recently announced their collaborative findings Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 11:44 AM | Comments (7)

Caregivers of People With Mental Illness Say Treatment Disruption Has Serious Consequences

Read more... Schizophrenia Coping
The disruption of a family member's treatment for mental illness and subsequent worsening of psychiatric symptoms can have harsh financial, physical and emotional consequences for families, according to results from an international survey of caregivers of individuals with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and schizoaffective disorder. Keeping Care Complete is a survey of 982 family caregivers, including 200 caregivers from the United States. "One in 17 Americans suffer from serious mental illnesses worldwide. When you consider all of the parents, siblings, spouses and children connected to these individuals, you see how far the shadow of serious mental illness is cast," said Preston Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 10:52 AM | Comments (4)

October 24, 2006

Los Angeles Hospital Patients Dumped on Skid Row

Highlighting the ongoing problems in healthcare coverage and treatment for the mentally ill in the USA - it was reported in the Los Angeles Times newspaper this week that the LA Police Department has opened its first criminal investigation into the dumping of homeless and mentally ill people on skid row after documenting five cases in which ambulances dropped off patients there Sunday. (Note: This problem seems to be common and was covered earlier this year - see a similar story in North Carolina here) The LA Times reported that "Police said the patients, who had been discharged from a Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 12:12 PM | Comments (1)

October 23, 2006

When Your Parent Has a Mental Illness

The Counseling Center at the University of Illinois has a good section of their web site devoted to helping children of the mentally ill. Included on the web site are details on the common issues these children face, and suggestions on how to address them. It notes: Growing up in any family can be challenging at times, but there are often special problems and challenges for families in which one or both parents have a mental illness. Children in these families often have to deal with instability or unpredictability. Often there is confusion in family roles and children have to Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 02:34 PM | Comments (0)

October 19, 2006

Husbands and Wives of People Who Have Schizophrenia - Personal Blogs

People might be interested in these two UK blogs -- one by a wife of a person who has schizophrenia, another by a husband of a person who has schizophrenia. The first is titled "The Wife of a Schizophrenic". It is described as "A brief explanation of schizophrenia, its affect on our marriage, and our experiences with mental health services" To read the blog go to: The Wife of a Schizophrenic The second blog is titled: Up The Down Escalator - the life of a husband caring for his schizophrenic wife... Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 12:42 PM | Comments (0)

October 17, 2006

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Schizophrenia - List of US Providers

With the help of Jennifer Gottlieb, Ph.D. at the Massachusetts General Hospital Schizophrenia Program, we have pulled together a list of all the US psychologists and psychiatrists (we could find) who focus on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for schizophrenia and psychosis. To learn more about CBT for schizophrenia - visit the MassGeneral Schizophrenia Web site (click here) As we have reported in the past - CBT for Schizophrenia is proving helpful as a complementary treatment for schizophrenia. Recent stories covering schizophrenia treatment with CBT can be found at the links below: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy approaches for schizophrenia Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 01:14 PM | Comments (4)

New Film on Schizophrenia - "Canvas"

There is a new movie due out this month that looks to be a very high-quality production and is focused on schizophrenia in a family environment. The new movie is titled "Canvas", and stars Academy Award winner Marcia Gay Harden, Emmy-winner Joe Pantaliano, and Devon Gearhart. On October 21-22, Canvas will have its official world premiere at the Hamptons International Film Festival in New York, the first step toward theatrical release. Written and directed by NAMI member Joe Greco, the film is inspired by his family’s experience with mental illness. A father and young son contend with the mother’s battle Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 12:01 PM | Comments (5)

Psychiatric Service Dogs - A Source of Comfort

Most people know about seeing-eye dogs for the visually impaired, but what about service dogs to help people with mental illnesses? Psychiatric Service Dogs (PSDs) -- a relatively new phenomenon -- are dogs that are individually trained to work or perform tasks for individuals living with mental illnesses. Although there is little research into the effectiveness of PSDs for people with mental illness, Aaron Katcher, M.D., emeritus professor of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania, has examined the interaction between animals and people. He has found "much evidence that social support is a critical variable in the recovery from many Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 11:58 AM | Comments (2)

October 16, 2006

National Resource Center on Psychiatric Advance Directives (US)

With schizophrenia, and other mental illnesses there are frequently periods during which the person is thinking clearly and capably, and other times when they cannot. During the periods when the person who suffers from schizophrenia is thinking clearly it is frequently valuable to work out a plan that should be enacted for those times when the person is not healthy. These plans can be made legal documents in the US using what is called a Psychiatric Advanced Directive. This document might also be valuable for people who are at high risk of schizophrenia - but who do not have it Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 12:40 PM | Comments (2)

October 12, 2006

Schizophrenia Stories/Interviews From Australia

The Australia Broadcasting Corporation has a good radio program called "All in the Mind" that posts transcripts of its interviews onto its web site. The following links are to pages of interviews with family members, and schizophrenia experts, that we think you would find interesting: In the Family - A Journey through Madness - A radio transcript of a candid family story of life inside. Inside psychiatric hospitals, inside schizophrenia, and inside a remarkable journey towards compassion, activism and understanding. Penelope and Lloyd met and married after years of cycling in and out of Perth's psychiatric institutions. Penelope's 19-year-old daughter, Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 12:22 PM | Comments (0)

A Good Schizophrenia Genetics Blog

There is an excellent new blog written by Ben Pickard, a member of the psychiatric genetics group within Medical Genetics at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, UK. In the blog, Ben and other writers review many recent journal articles on the genetics of psychiatric disorders - in a way that for many people will be relatively readable. If you want to learn more about schizophrenia (and bipolar disorder) genetics - Ben's blog is a good place to visit. The blog is rather technical -- so perhaps it is best for college students with some science/biology background - but we recommend Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 11:38 AM | Comments (0)

Solvay Seeks Approval From FDA on New Schizophrenia Drug

Pharmaceutical company Solvay SA has recently filed a new drug application with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for a treatment it developed with Wyeth Pharmaceuticals Inc. to help schizophrenia. The submission is based on studies that evaluated the companies' bifeprunox drug. Some 2,500 patients were evaluated for six weeks, and stable patients were evaluated for six months. Solvay Pharmaceuticals Inc. Chief Executive Laurence Downey called the submission of bifeprunox "an important milestone in our commitment to develop and commercialize compounds that potentially address the long-term treatment outcomes of patients with mental illnesses." Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 10:07 AM | Comments (0)

October 11, 2006

Assisted Treatment - Does it Work?

Read more... Assisted Treatment
A psychiatrist on the blog "Shrink Wrap", in response to the question "Does compelled treatment work?", noted recently: "Yup.[Yes] That's kind of the point of having mental health courts and outpatient commitment (or what opponents characterize as 'leash laws'). Eventually. Maybe not the first time, but eventually. Eventually when they figure out that dropping out of treatment leads to relapse and relapse leads to incarceration. Or in the case of insanity acquittees, return to the psychiatric hospital. People who work in substance abuse programs now welcome dual intervention with court supervision because they know the court-ordered patients are more likely Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 06:52 PM | Comments (4)

Noyes Schizophrenia Conference, Oct. 20th, Norristown, PA

The 20th Annual Arthur P. Noyes Schizophrenia Conference will take place on Friday, October 20th in Norristown, Pennsylvania. (8:00 AM to 4:30 PM) The 20th Annual Arthur P. Noyes Schizophrenia Conference is open to everyone interested in understanding schizophrenia, including mental health professionals, hospital and clinic administrators, policy makers, consumers, and families. Conference Topic: RECOVERY FROM SCHIZOPHRENIA: Within Our Reach, or Beyond Our Grasp? The conference intends to take a close look at what is meant by "outcome in schizophrenia" and whether recovery from the illness is possible. What is recovery? Do the scientific, governmental and consumer communities have distinctly Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 05:01 PM | Comments (0)

Schizophrenia, One Family's Story

The New Hampshire Newspaper "Portsmouth Herald Sunday", has recently started publishing a series of articles about one family's experience with schizophrenia. We thank Herb Perry and his family for sharing this story. We hope their stories can help lift the veil of secrecy, shame and ignorance that for many can be as hard to live with as the disease itself. Click on the links below to read each story associated with the series: Deciding to go public -- Our story is not the stuff of an Academy Award-winning movie, nothing as dramatic as the story of the schizophrenic Nobel Prize Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 04:26 PM | Comments (1)

October 10, 2006

Pfizer Working on New Schizophrenia Drugs

Bloomberg.com is reporting today that Pfizer is busy working on some improved schizophrenia drugs. Given the increasing number of studies that are suggesting that the current schizophrenia medications are no better than the drugs that were available 25 years ago - we certainly hope they are successful. Only time will tell. The story notes: "Researchers at Pfizer are using insights into Viagra to design experimental drugs that may improve on Zyprexa, the best - selling schizophrenia remedy from Eli Lilly & Co., with $4.2 billion in sales last year. Viagra causes an erection by turning off an enzyme in the Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 01:51 PM | Comments (0)

Early Family Experience Can Eliminate the Effects of Genes, Minimize Risk of Mental Illness

UCLA psychology researchers reported today that a positive, low-stress emotionally healthy family environment for children can eliminate or minimize the effect of a gene variation that is strongly linked to a person's risk for developing depression. The study was published in the current issue of the journal Biological Psychiatry. While this new research study is focused on depression, a large body of related research suggests that the same effect is true with schizophrenia risk genes (see here and here for details) as well as risk genes for other mental illnesses. This is consistent with the current scientific theory that many Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 09:39 AM | Comments (4)

October 09, 2006

Epigenetics and Mental Illness - Child Care Has an Impact

New research suggests that events during childhood have an impact on the brain (and brain development) even if no conventional memory is formed. Researchers are now viewing this as a potentially important factor in mental illness. Research findings suggest that a mother's parenting style can affect the activity of a child's genes. The Economist magazine recently covered this important new area of research. The Economist noted: "According to the [researchers in this field], early experience does profoundly shape the brain. However, it is not memory that it shapes - at least, not memory as conventionally understood. What it actually molds Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 02:41 PM | Comments (4)

UK Mental Healthcare Report - Treatment Options Falling

A survey of UK community mental health services in 79 NHS "trusts" found the proportion of mentally ill patients receiving talking therapies had fallen year after year. Key findings of the UK Healthcare Commission report included: - 39 percent of patients surveyed had received talking therapy in 2006, down from 40 percent in 2005, and 42 percent in 2004 - 35 percent of patients who had not received therapy said they would have liked to - 52 percent of those who received therapy said they "definitely found it useful" - 84 percent of teams were rated "fair" or "weak" on Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 10:48 AM | Comments (0)

"Schizophrenia" Term Should Be Abolished, Group Says

A group in England calling themselves the Campaign to Abolish the Schizophrenia Label (Castle) has stated that the term "schizophrenia" should be scrapped because they believe that the term falsly groups a broad range of symptoms and "encourages over-reliance on anti-psychotic drugs rather than psychological intervention". Schizophrenia researchers that we've talked to have suggested to us that while the term "schizophrenia" probably actually encompasses a number of different disorders and is therefore somewhat inaccurate, there is little value in replacing the term until we can discretely and biologically measure and identify each discrete subgroup of the disorder. Castle is led Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 10:12 AM | Comments (7)

October 03, 2006

Paliperidone - J&J Schizophrenia Drug, Gets Conditional Approval

Last Friday, Johnson & Johnson (J&J) said U.S. health regulators (the FDA) would not approve the company's next-generation schizophrenia medication, paliperidone extended-release, until certain conditions are met. UPI reported that "analysts were cautiously optimistic the company would resolve the situation relatively quickly. The FDA's decision delays final approval of paliperidone by at least three months, but analysts said they expect the drug to hit the market before the patent on J&J's other antipsychotic, Risperdal, expires in December 2007." In a related report, The Wall Street Journal stated that J&J plans to market the new treatment as a significant improvement over Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 12:22 PM | Comments (1)

Study Suggests Newer Drugs not Better than Older Drugs

A new study, funded by the British government and published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, is the first to compare treatment results from a broad range of older antipsychotic drugs against results from newer ones. The study was requested by Britain's National Health Service to determine whether the newer drugs -- which can cost 10 times as much as the older ones -- are worth the difference in price. The results of the study suggest that schizophrenia patients do as well, or perhaps even better, on older psychiatric drugs compared with newer and far costlier medications. Read the full Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 11:58 AM | Comments (0)

October 02, 2006

Genes and Schizophrenia: What is the Connection? (Video)

Dr. Daniel Weinberger's presentation on the genetics of schizophrenia and other brain disorders, which was given at the recent Staglin Music Festival for Mental Health, is available on the Internet. We encourage you to watch the video if you have an interest in the genetics of schizophrenia -- this is a relatively easy to understand presentation done by one of the leading researchers in the field. To watch the video just click on the play button in the video window below. The slides of the presentation are difficult to see but what Dr. Weinberger has to say is very important Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 08:46 AM | Comments (5)

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