Category Archive for ‘Schizophrenia’

Can Fish Oil Stop Schizophrenia?

“Fish oil could prevent schizophrenia.” You have probably seen the headlines in the past weeks. This is the sort of news we all dream of—a way to prevent a serious illness before it develops, using a really safe treatment. The results from the study conducted in Vienna, Austria, are truly promising, but cautious optimism is still the prevailing mood, even among the researchers who did the work. Let’s unpack the story … The omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil have been discussed as a possible treatment for schizophrenia since at least the 1990s, though research has not shown that fish oil supplementation has any effect on people already living with schizophrenia. However, the Vienna study, led by Paul Amminger of the University of Melbourne in Australia, suggests that fish oil can protect against the development of full-blown psychosis when taken by young people showing early symptoms that could develop into schizophrenia or another […]

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How Close Are We to Cures?

A good question We recently received the following email: hi there, i was wondering how close we are to cures for mental illnesses like ocd, depression and schizophrenia. I wish there were a simple answer to this question – something like “Really close!” or “We’ll have cures next year.” But the truth is more complex, and probably comes in several parts. We are closer to cures than we were before In part one of the answer, we could compare our search for cures to where we were in 1887, when Emil Kraepelin identified schizophrenia and bipolar disorder as separate and distinct disorders (though he gave them different names than the ones we use today), and in a sense founded the modern study of mental illnesses. Kraepelin believed that there was a biological brain basis to mental illnesses, though he couldn’t possibly know what it was, given that the field of neuroscience […]

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Research Focus: Cognitive Impairment in Schizophrenia

The hidden symptoms of schizophrenia Cognitive deficits are the less dramatic and less known, but equally disabling symptoms that accompany psychosis for many people living with schizophrenia. Most people with schizophrenia experience problems with basic cognition—the mental functions that help us perform even simple tasks of everyday life. These symptoms can make it hard to live independently, have a job or go to school, or socialize with others. For most, the auditory hallucinations or delusions of psychosis can be treated with varying degrees of success and side effects, using medications. But there is virtually no treatment available to address the cognitive impairments of schizophrenia. (The exception may be the drug clozapine, which some researchers are convinced can improve cognition, even if it is only relatively small boost.) And unlike psychosis, cognitive impairment does not come and go, or get better over time, but seems to remain pretty constant. (Cognitive impairment […]

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Too Good To Be True? Debate about the Latest Schizophrenia Research

Treating mental illnesses like schizophrenia or autism, where symptoms range widely, would be much easier if doctors had diagnostic tests—tests that could tell them if two people who have overlapping but also different symptoms have the same disorder, or tests that could tell them which medications will work best for which person. Recently, a study claiming that schizophrenia can be subdivided into at least eight genetic subtypes has garnered a lot of media attention. It’s easy to see why: if schizophrenia can be distilled into subtypes, each underpinned by different genetics, we might be closer to understanding the disorder and developing more personalized treatments. However, the study, published online in the American Journal of Psychiatry on September 15, has been roundly criticized by others in the psychiatric genetics community, who fault the researchers for publically promoting results that others view as preliminary and in need of scrutiny and more study. If […]

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A New Way to Study Hallucinations: The RDoC

“Not to worry, Robin. They’ve got no idea.” Startled, I look around to see who was speaking. I find no one. Was that just a thought? No. Someone is definitely talking directly to me. It is someone in the room, not in my mind. It is someone next to me, or behind me. But who is it? And where is he? Why can’t I see him? “Who are you?” I whisper. “Don’t be afraid. They’ve got no idea.” “Where are you? Why can’t I see you?” I ask silently. “You can’t see me because I don’t want to be seen.”  “Who –“ “Pay attention! Your parents have no idea who you’re dealing with!” Oh my God, it has to be Satan! He is not only putting thoughts in my mind — now he is also talking directly to me in his own voice! My skin itches and I begin to […]

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Focusing on Mental Illness during Mental Health Awareness Month

May is Mental Health Month, or Mental Health Awareness Month. President Harry Truman first declared Mental Health Awareness Month in 1949, when mental health was much less talked-about. It’s safe to say we’ve come a long way since then in our attitudes toward mental health, in what we know about it, and in our treatments for mental health problems. Mental Health America, which leads Mental Health Month each year in May, has chosen “Mind Your Health” as this year’s theme, focusing on the importance of mental health in overall health, including “tips and tools for taking positive actions to protect mental health and promote whole health.”  Indeed, there is no health without mental health (as the MHA motto says), and it’s important for every one of us to remember that we can take steps to keep mentally healthy. But what about mental illness? Is awareness of mental health the same […]

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Schizophrenia: Change is Afoot . . .

I was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 1956 at thirteen years of age and have lived successfully with this brain disorder for well over 50 years.  Many members of my father’s family had schizophrenia, but I was the first to receive “best practice treatment” over the entire course of my illness, consisting of early intervention, continuity of treatment, medications, and cognitive therapy. This comprehensive treatment approach is rarely available to people with schizophrenia even now. By most standards, I have been successful in my life, particularly in my business career, where I have held senior executive positions with a number of large international corporations and have been instrumental in the formation of several new ventures. People with schizophrenia are not expected to lead such high-achieving lives. In a New York Times opinion piece, Elyn Saks, (a law professor at University of Southern California and winner of a Macarthur “genius” award) writes […]

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