February 28, 2007

Vitamin D deficiency widespread during pregnancy, Increasing Schizophrenia Risk in Children

Past research has linked Vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy with increased risk of schizophrenia for the child later in life (see research here and here). Now, new research has come out that suggests that even regular use of prenatal multivitamin supplements is not adequate to prevent vitamin D insufficiency. The new research found that more than 80 percent of black women and nearly half of white woman tested when their children were born "had levels of vitamin D that were too low, even though more than 90 percent of them used prenatal vitamins during pregnancy," said Lisa Bodnar, assistant professor Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 11:54 AM | Comments (0)

Children With Mental Illnesses to Get At-Home Services

A federal judge (Ponsor), in response to a lawsuit, had ruled on the side of children's families that the state of Massachusetts had indeed illegally forced thousands of mentally ill children "to endure unnecessary confinement in residential facilities." The Boston Globe says that the judge has decided against the children's advocate's request for a broad revamping of the system, in favor of the state's more modest plan to "fix the system" by providing services in the children's own homes. The proposal from the families was more detailed and advocated more extensive care for children and their families, including specific services Read More...
Posted by Jeanie Wolfson at 09:16 AM | Comments (0)

February 26, 2007

Melatonin May be Useful in Schizophrenia as Sleep-Aid for Insomnia

Many people with schizophrenia have problems with sleep, such as insomnia. These problems can include problems falling asleep or staying asleep. For some people suffering from insomnia, either using conventional insomnia medication or increasing sleep-inducing antipsychotics, might not be desirable. On the other hand, not sleeping well can also cause problems, especially for people who are already vulnerable to the effects of lack of sleep, such as people with schizophrenia and mood disorders. "The experience of insomnia can be stressful, and stress can worsen psychopathology in schizophrenic patients," says the team. Although the food supplement melatonin has been considered to Read More...
Posted by Jeanie Wolfson at 03:00 PM | Comments (3)

February 24, 2007

Family Psychoeducation for Schizophrenia Lowers Relapse Rate, is Cost Effective

Families can negatively react to a family member's symptoms of schizophrenia with confusion, anger, misunderstanding, hostility, criticism or even over-protectiveness. These negative reactions from within a family is referred to as the family's "high expressed emotions". A family with "low expressed emotions" is described as one wherein the family members are supportive of the ill family member -- showing sympathy, compassion and concern -- without becoming overly protective. It is believed that people with schizophrenia living in families with a high level of expressed emotion (EE) are at greater risk of relapse than those living in low EE households. "Family Read More...
Posted by Jeanie Wolfson at 07:52 AM | Comments (1)

February 23, 2007

Dallas to Pay for Mistreatment of Mentally Ill in Jail

The U.S. Department of Justice has said that lawsuits can be filed when jails violate inmates' rights by not providing adequate medical and mental health care. The Houston Chronicle reports that now, a Dallas (Texas) county must pay out almost $1 million as a result of a federal civil rights lawsuit on behalf of three inmates. About half the money will go to one jail inmate who was not given psychiatric medications for two months and who nearly died from neglect while in custody. The rest of the money will go to the families of two inmates with schizophrenia who Read More...
Posted by Jeanie Wolfson at 01:05 PM | Comments (1)

February 22, 2007

Soldiers with Injuries, Schizophrenia, PTSD, and Brain Trauma are Left in Neglect

American soldiers sometimes return from Iraq and Afghanistan with injuries to body, brain and mind. Sent to pristine, high-tech, Army hospitals such as Walter Reed Medical Center, they are set to receive some of the best care in the country. But according to an in-depth investigation reported by the Washington Post, the situation once they are dismissed to the longer-term outpatient care is disturbingly different. That care can be "nearly as chaotic as the real battlefields they faced overseas." Especially affected are the soldiers struggling with schizophrenia, PTSD, paranoid delusional disorder and traumatic brain injury being discharged from the psychiatric Read More...
Posted by Jeanie Wolfson at 07:09 AM | Comments (4)

February 21, 2007

Many Americans Don't Trust Leaders To Reform Health Care

Many community members at schizophrenia.com are hit especially hard by limitations in US mental health care services and insurance. Last week we covered a study that indicates that problems in the US health care system are growing. This week a new poll by the Wall Street Journal suggests that nearly half of Americans don't trust President Bush to reform the nation's health-care system. The Wall Street Journal reported that: When asked much they trust the president to come up with good policies for improving and reforming the U.S. health-care system, 49% said "not at all," while 16% said "not much," Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 09:41 AM | Comments (0)

Eye Movement Study Identifies Risk for Schizophrenia

A Binghamton University (New York) researcher has established a new framework to help determine whether individuals might be at risk for schizophrenia. The framework is today only being used in academinc research - but at some point in the future it may reach a point where it can be used in clinical settings and be of direct value to families with a history of schizophrenia. In a study published in this month's Journal of Abnormal Psychology, Mark F. Lenzenweger, a professor of clinical science, neuroscience and cognitive psychology at Binghamton University, State University of New York (SUNY), is the first Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 08:26 AM | Comments (3)

The Catholic Church, Exorcism and Schizophrenia

A Romanian priest and four nuns were recently sentenced in the killing of a nun, Maricica Cornici, who had been treated for schizophrenia. When the ill nun relapsed and believed she heard the devil talking to her, the priest and attending nuns attempted to perform a brutal exorcism on her in an attempt to drive out the devil. This "exorcism" is what ultimately caused the nun's death, it was determined. The church officials criticized the priest's methods, banned him from the priesthood, excommunicated the nuns, and promised reforms. The Vatican issued new guidelines in 1999 urging priests to take modern Read More...
Posted by Jeanie Wolfson at 06:10 AM | Comments (5)

February 20, 2007

Psychiatric Meds, Adverse Effects and Psychotherapy

The excellent blog titled "Corpus Callosum" written by a psychiatrist, reports on a study showing that psychotherapy (cognitive behavioral therapy, CBT) can reduce the adverse side-effects of psychiatric drugs (this study focuses on psychotherapy in panic disorder, but other research suggests CBT is valuable in schizophrenia also and it seems now that research needs to be done on CBT and adverse affects of antipsychotic drugs for schizophrenia). Corpus Collosum notes: This is a nice little study that deserves a brief comment. It's from the American Journal of Psychiatry this month. What is shows is that participation in psychotherapy can alter Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 02:33 PM | Comments (0)

Stress and the Cellular Response to Dopamine

Although stress is an inevitable fact of life and most people show remarkable resiliency to it, people with schizophrenia tend to be particularly sensitive to stress. Stress can elevate dopamine levels in the prefrontal cortex (PFC) of the brain. New research into the cellular response to dopamine in the prefrontal cortex, reported in the Schizophrenia Research Forum, is adding to our understanding of how genes, dopamine, and cellular response interact. Scientists hope this understanding will lead to effective treatment for alleviating cognitive difficulties in schizophrenia. As dopamine levels increase in the prefrontal cortex, cognitive performance improves, reaching a peak and Read More...
Posted by Jeanie Wolfson at 07:00 AM | Comments (0)

February 19, 2007

Deep-brain Stimulation Studied for Difficult to Manage Tardive Dyskinesia

Medscape has an article on a small study (10 patients) using electrical stimulation deep within the brain as a treatment for difficult to manage (or "refractory") tardive dyskinesia (TD) which can result from the use of some antipsychotic medications. The patients in the study had refractory TD, which doctors had not been able to alleviate. The results, reported in the Archives of General Psychiatry found the deep-brain stimulation treatment to be effective, with all 10 patients having treatment "success". The researchers conclude that this success offers the hope that deep-brain stimulation may provide a much-needed new treatment option for disabling, Read More...
Posted by Jeanie Wolfson at 09:34 AM | Comments (2)

February 18, 2007

Public Education Program on Marijuana / Schizophrenia Link Working (in Australia)

A new report titled "Australian Attitudes Towards Cannabis" shows young Australians no longer considered cannabis / marijuana harmless and suggests that the government's drugs education campaign is working, an Australian government minister says. The Australian National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre study suggests that marijuana has become socially unfashionable in the same way as cigarettes. The drug once perceived as harmless is now overwhelming viewed as dangerous, addictive and linked to a range of serious health and social problems. The survey found that although almost half of under 30-year olds have friends who use cannabis, one third said their peer Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 12:41 PM | Comments (1)

February 17, 2007

US Health System Getting Worse, Says Expert

The problems of the US health care system are growing, warns an expert in this week's British Medical Journal. The United States is the only major industrialized nation without universal health insurance, writes Karen Davis, President of the Commonwealth Fund. Coverage varies widely between states and has deteriorated in recent years. The number of uninsured people has increased from 40 million in 2000 to nearly 47 million in 2005. Gaps in coverage lead to inequalities in access to care, poor quality care, lost economic productivity, and avoidable deaths. The Institute of Medicine estimates that 18,000 lives are lost annually as Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 07:43 PM | Comments (0)

In the Classroom: Correcting Misconceptions About Schizophrenia

The Stanford Daily newspaper did its part to battle stigma against schizophrenia by reporting on University of Michigan professor Jonathan Metzel's presentation, "Protest Psychosis: Race, Stigma, and the Diagnosis of Schizophrenia". In response to a national survey reporting that most people believe that schizophrenia is inherently a violent disease, Metzel explains that schizophrenia patients are generally non-violent and likely to be victimized. He then explains the history of the diagnosis and stigmatization of the illness in the United States, rooted in 1950's racial tension: This misunderstanding, he said, is deeply rooted in racial tensions. Specifically, Metzel explained, African-American men are Read More...
Posted by Jeanie Wolfson at 10:13 AM | Comments (4)

February 15, 2007

Increased Osteoporosis Risk Linked to Prolactin-Raising Antipsychotics

An earlier study we've reported on raised the question of whether some antipsychotics used for schizophrenia might raise the risk of osteoporosis (possibly through elevation of prolactin levels), over other atypical antipsychotics that are not prone to raising prolactin levels. A more recent study in the British Journal of Psychiatry further investigates the link between antipsychotic medications and the risk of hip fracture (osteoporosis). The investigators found that the risk of hip fracture was indeed elevated from prolactin-raising antipsychotics used in patients with schizophrenia. Prolactin-raising antipsychotics include the first-generation, or "typical", antipsychotics, and the atypical antipsychotic, Risperidone. The authors suggest Read More...
Posted by Jeanie Wolfson at 10:50 AM | Comments (4)

February 14, 2007

First Antipsychotic Targeting GABA to Enter Phase II Trials

BioLineRx Ltd. (Israel) announced that its novel antipsychotic for schizophrenia, so far simply named "BL-1020", has passed Phase I clinical trials and is expected to enter phase II trials later this year. According to BioLineRx, BL-1020 - the first GABA enhancing antipsychotic for the treatment of schizophrenia - is "designed to simultaneously target the dopamine hyperactivity and GABA hypoactivity of schizophrenia" and "BL-1020 was well tolerated and showed an improved safety profile reducing extrapyramidal symptoms that are experienced with currently available therapies." GABA, which stands for Gamma-aminobutyric acid, is a neurotransmitter in the brain and central nervous system (CNS). The Read More...
Posted by Jeanie Wolfson at 10:00 AM | Comments (9)

February 13, 2007

How Antipsychotic Drugs Cause Weight Gain

John Hopkins University Researchers Uncover Cause of Antipsychotic-related Drug Weight Gain Johns Hopkins University brain scientists have announced that they understand how and why some of the antipsychotic drugs used for treating schizophrenia cause patients to frequently gain significant weight which may lead to life-threatening complications such as diabetes and heart disease. In a press release from John Hopkins University it states: "We've now connected a whole class of antipsychotics to natural brain chemicals that trigger appetite," says Solomon H. Snyder, M.D., professor of neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. "Our identification of the molecular players that link Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 07:49 AM | Comments (3)

February 12, 2007

Treating and Preventing Adolescent Mental Health Disorders

Treating, Preventing Adolescent Mental Health Disorders - What we Know and What we Don't know. Adolescents in the United States are more likely to suffer from a mental health disorder than ever before, but getting these teens diagnosed and cared for is a challenge that is not being met, suggests a book that is now available for free on the Internet. The book was reviewed in the Journal of the American Journal of Psychiatry in 2006 and more recently in the Journal of the American Medical Association - and has gotten excellent reviews in each. Now everyone can read the Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 02:45 PM | Comments (0)

MECP2 Gene in Autistic-Spectrum Disorders and Childhood-Onset Schizophrenia

The MECP2 gene creates a protein which in turn regulates other genes. A defect in the MECP2 gene causes a potentially deadly autistic-spectrum disorder called Rett Syndrome. Mutations in this gene have also been associated with childhood-onset schizophrenia, classic autism, and learning disabilities. The Rett Syndrome Research Foundation (RSRF) issued a press release announcing the reversal of symptoms of Rett Syndrome in a genetic mouse model. It is hoped that further research in this area will help children suffering from Rett syndrome as well as other neuropsychiatric disorders, such as childhood-onset schizophrenia, involving a defect in the MECP2 gene. Below Read More...
Posted by Jeanie Wolfson at 10:32 AM | Comments (0)

Childhood Schizophrenia? - San Antonio Girl Talks to Angels

The following story was recently posted on a Texas web site: "Little Kristen was only 4 years old when she says she noticed something different about the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe hanging in her family's home. "Her eyes like opened a little more like that and she smiled at me," she says. On that day, six years ago, Kristen's mom didn't pay much attention to her young daughter's excitement. After all, what children often see is make believe, but not many 4-year-old's beg to be taken to church. Kristen asked her mother the very next day to take Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 09:52 AM | Comments (12)

February 11, 2007

Measurement of Insight Useful Indicator of Relapse Risk

According to an article in PsychiatryMatters.MD, researchers investigated the relationship between insight and outcome such as time to relapse and rehospitalization, and whether or not insight affects social function and symptom severity in patients with non-affective psychosis (such as schizophrenia, but not schizoaffective disorder). They concluded that although insight did not seem to directly affect symptom severity or social function, it did highly predict risk of relapse and subsequent rehospitalization. The researchers, reporting in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, used a 0-16 insight measurement scale called the Birchwood Insight Scale (BIS). The researchers recommend that measurement of insight at first Read More...
Posted by Jeanie Wolfson at 04:30 PM | Comments (2)

February 10, 2007

Cannabis Abuse May Lead to Earlier Schizophrenia Onset, Worse Outcome

In Current Psychiatry Online, Dr. Joseph M. Rey, MD, PhD discusses the growing evidence showing that marijuana (cannabis) use can not only cause acute psychosis, but also hasten the onset of schizophrenia (bringing forward in time a first schizophrenia episode), and worsen the outcome of patients with psychotic disorders. Dr. Rey clearly explains many recent discoveries about marijuana use including the genetic catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) variability precipitating psychotic disorders when marijuana abuse is started in adolescence, an association not seen when the marijuana use is started later in life. Other risk factors mentioned for developing a schizophrenia-spectrum illness from marijuana use Read More...
Posted by Jeanie Wolfson at 11:36 AM | Comments (1)

February 08, 2007

Cognitive Therapy of Schizophrenia: Book Review

Read more... CBT for Schizophrenia
In this month's issue of the journal "Psychiatric Services" Timothy B. Sullivan, M.D. reviews the book "Cognitive Therapy of Schizophrenia". It sounds like it would be a good book for psychiatrists and other therapists working with people who have schizophrenia. In his review, Dr. Sullivan writes: Kingdon and Turkington set out to provide clinicians with a treatment model that will make the uncertain knowable and that which is alienating comfortable. They successfully present a cogent, approachable, and flexible model for psychotherapeutic engagement of persons suffering from serious psychotic illness. This is not a "manualized" treatment, and the authors explain why Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 08:12 PM | Comments (2)

Adverse Childhood Events Impact Outcomes for People with Schizophrenia Disorders

A new research study published in the journal "Psychiatric Services" suggests that for people who suffer from schizophrenia (and related disorders) increased exposure to adverse childhood events are strongly related to psychiatric problems (suicidal thinking, hospitalizations, distress, and posttraumatic stress disorder), substance abuse, physical health problems (HIV infection), medical service utilization (physician visits), and poor social functioning (homelessness or criminal justice involvement). In this research study "adverse childhood events" included physical abuse, sexual abuse, parental mental illnesses, loss of a parent, parental separation or divorce, witnessing domestic violence, and foster or kinship care. The researchers conclude by saying that the Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 08:10 PM | Comments (1)

Movie "Canvas" Shown at Mental Health Symposium

After Joe Pantoliano, producer and star of a new movie, "Canvas" [a movie that focuses on one family's experience with schizophrenia], told Tufts University professor Richard Lerner about the movie, Lerner arranged a 90-minute symposium at Tufts University, during which the movie was shown. The symposium was attended by more than 350 mental illness specialists, community leaders, students, and residents. Writer and director, Joseph Greco, upon whose own life as the son of a mother with schizophrenia the movie was based, was at the symposium. "It's like a love letter to my parents," Greco said. "I felt this was my Read More...
Posted by Jeanie Wolfson at 02:07 PM | Comments (3)

February 07, 2007

Companies Collaborate on New PDE10 Drug for Schizophrenia

Belgium specialty pharmaceutical company with a focus on neurology and immunology, elbion NV, announced in a press release that it is collaborating with Wyeth Pharmaceuticals to develop a treatment for central nervous system (CNS) disorders, with an initial focus on schizophrenia, based on its phosphodiesterase 10 (PDE 10) program. Elbion and Wyeth pharmaceuticals hope that by inhibiting PDE 10, the function of neurons will improve. PDE 10 is highly expressed in the neurons in the brain associated with neurological and psychiatric disorders including schizophrenia and psychosis. By inhibiting PDE10 activity it is thought that the function of neurons could be Read More...
Posted by Jeanie Wolfson at 01:30 PM | Comments (0)

February 06, 2007

Low Birth Weight And Childhood Abuse Linked To Psychological Problems Later In Life

Past research studies have suggested that both low birth weight and childhood abuse/trauma increases risk for schizophrenia later in life. A new study by Mount Sinai School of Medicine (MSSM) which covers some of the same issues (but doesn't focus specifically on schizophrenia) has found that children born with low birth weight (LBW) who suffered child abuse are substantially more likely to develop psychological problems such as depression and social dysfunction in adolescence and adulthood. The study, appearing in the February 5, 2007, issue of The Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine, is the first to investigate the possible interaction Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 11:37 AM | Comments (3)

February 05, 2007

The Neuropsychology of the Playground (How Parenting Styles Impact Child Brain Development)

Following is an interview with Daniel Siegel, the UCLA psychiatrist who is a leading researcher in the area of child development. In the interview they discuss how parenting styles impact brain development in children and can impact the mental health (positive and negative) of the child. While the interview is a few years old, the points he discusses have been further validated by research since that time. We encourage all people who have young children to read the interview (and Dr. Siegel's book "Parenting from the Inside Out"). The interview notes: Harvard-trained psychiatrist Dan Siegel and his colleagues are inventing Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 07:38 PM | Comments (3)

Tailored Treatment of Schizophrenia

Making a strong case for tailoring the treatment of schizophrenia to the individual, rather than according to restrictive, cost-cutting formularies or even in strict adherence to guidelines, a subsection of a Medscape Continuing Education article, "Schizophrenia: Tailored Treatment vs Guidelines and Formularies", brings up advances made in patient genetic polymorphisms in receptor and transporter genes and drug-phenotyping, patient history of medications tried and adverse effects, compliance, and other variables that should come into play in a physician's choice of medications for an individual patient."Personalized care in psychiatry recognizes that because of the complexity and variety of psychiatric conditions, the genetic Read More...
Posted by Jeanie Wolfson at 09:55 AM | Comments (1)

February 03, 2007

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Schizophrenia - An Indepth Interview with Experts

During the past year we've covered the increasing number of positive research reports on the use of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) as a new complementary treatment for schizophrenia (see recent stories here and this List of US Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Schizophrenia Providers). Because of the significant potential for this therapy and many reader questions, we've asked some of the top psychiatry researchers and practitioners of CBT for schizophrenia to answer our questions so that we may better understand it. We thank Dr. Gottlieb and Dr. Cather of the Massachusetts General Hospital / Harvard Medical School schizophrenia CBT program for Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 02:56 PM | Comments (8)

Free Psychiatry Text Book Available On-line

The University of Tasmania (Australia) DOWNLOAD OF PSYCHIATRY (DOP) is a web site for freely accessible information about mental disorders and psychiatry. It is written at about the medical school student level, but it is probably readable by anyone who has been reading about psychiatric disorders for a while, or who has read the schizophrenia.com news blog for more than a few months. It can be used as an alternative textbook, and may be of interest to a wider audience. Users are very welcome to download and to print out the entire offering on the web site. The chapter on Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 02:26 PM | Comments (3)

Treatment Options Needed in Canada

Vancouver, Canada's NorthShore Outlook has an interesting article following Janet Scott's road to recovery after experimenting with drugs at the young age of 13 and later becoming diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder. "I was pretty lucky," said Scott, who despite her illness is living a productive and steady life. "I've known a lot of people who've fallen through the cracks because their needs haven’t been met." Highlighted in the article is the urgent need in Canada for more comprehensive treatment options both in the community as well as in hospital settings. The closing of long-term treatment facilities that used to provide Read More...
Posted by Jeanie Wolfson at 09:15 AM | Comments (1)

February 01, 2007

Psychosis and Psychotic Disorders - It's a Brain Thing (Video)

Following are two introductory videos by a psychiatrist, Dr. Henley, on psychosis and schizophrenia. If you want to get the basic information on psychosis and schizophrenia, these videos are not a bad place to start. For more professional videos and audio recordings on schizophrenia see Schizophrenia-related Videos Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 02:12 PM | Comments (1)

Orally Disintegrating Form of Clozapine Soon to be Approved

Avanir Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: AVNR) announced today that it has received an "approvable letter" from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for a new formulation of its currently marketed antipsychotic drug FazaClo(clozapine, USP). The new formulation, if approved, will include updated packaging as well as a new 12.5 mg dosing strength. Avanir is preparing its response to the FDA and currently anticipates resolving the issues to obtain final marketing approval in the coming months. FazaClo is the only orally disintegrating form of clozapine which is indicated for the management of severely ill schizophrenia patients who fail to respond adequately to Read More...
Posted by szadmin at 10:01 AM | Comments (1)

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