National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month: Schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, anxiety, dementia, and depression

By: Bel Marra Health | Health News | Saturday, July 02, 2016 - 08:00 AM

July is the National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, so we have compiled a list of our articles that discuss the topics of mental health, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, anxiety, dementia, and depression.

One in five Americans experience a mental health condition, and yet many sufferers don’t receive any treatment, as they are too ashamed or embarrassed to come out and ask for help. For this reason, many individuals slip through the cracks and do not get the help they need. This trend is amplified in minority groups, and that is why it’s so important to bring awareness to such an important issue.

Below you will find some helpful resources that touch upon different mental health issues to make yourself aware of what is going on and hopefully to give you strength to seek help in case you need it.

Schizophrenia symptoms triggered by sleep deprivation and irregular sleep patternsSchizophrenia symptoms triggered by sleep deprivation and irregular sleep patterns: Study

Schizophrenia symptoms are triggered by sleep deprivation and irregular sleep patterns. If a healthy person goes without sleep for 24 hours, this can trigger symptoms similar to schizophrenia. The researchers from the University of Bonn, Germany, and King’s College in London, U.K., suggest that the findings should be examined further, especially for those who work during the night.

During psychosis, there is a loss of reality, which is associated with hallucinations and delusions. The chronic version of this is known as schizophrenia, which is also associated with the hearing of voices in one’s head. Professor Dr. Ulrich Ettinger said, “It was clear to us that a sleepless night leads to impairment in the ability to concentrate. But we were surprised at how pronounced and how wide the spectrum of schizophrenia-like symptoms was.”

The researchers looked at 24 healthy patients in a sleep laboratory. For the initial test, participants slept normally for a week. After that initial week, they were kept awake all night with movies, conversations, games, and brief walks. The following morning participants were asked about their feelings and thoughts, and underwent a measurement known as prepulse inhibition.

Lead author Dr. Nadine Petrovsky explained, “Prepulse inhibition is a standard test to measure the filtering function of the brain.” During the experiment, a loud noise is heard through headphones, making the participants startled, and the reaction is measured through electrodes. “The prepulse inhibition demonstrates an important function of the brain: Filters separate what is important from what is not important, and prevent sensory overload,” Dr. Petrovsky added.

Professor Ettinger continued, “There were pronounced attention deficits, such as what typically occurs in the case of schizophrenia. The unselected flood of information led to chaos in the brain.” The participants also answered questionnaires about their sensitivity to light, color, and brightness. According to their responses, their sense of time and smell was altered. A psychologist from the University of Bonn said, “We did not expect that the symptoms could be so pronounced after one night spent awake.” Continue reading…

Yeast infectionYeast infection in men linked to schizophrenia, bipolar disorder

Yeast infection in men is linked to schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. A recent study found that male yeast infections may prelude a diagnosis of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder as a result of exposure to infectious viruses or parasites affecting their behavior.

There is growing evidence that schizophrenia may be a result of an overactive immune system. The most recent findings uncovered that there is a protein that tells the brain to remove certain neural connections during childhood, increasing the risk of developing schizophrenia later on in life. Other studies have shown that higher activity among microglia, which are a type of cells that act as the body’s first line of defense. Researchers concluded that overactive microglia harm the brain by destroying connections.

Researchers from Johns Hopkins Medicine, the Sheppard Pratt Health System, and Heidelberg University in Germany conducted the recent study on candida albicans, which is normally found in the body. When it gets out of balance, it results in a yeast infection. The researchers wanted to explore if yeast infections had any effects on schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.

The researchers took blood samples from 808 people of which 261 were diagnosed with schizophrenia and 270 with bipolar disorder. The rest of participants had no history of psychological disorders. Overall, there was no connection between candida albicans and psychological disorders, but when the researchers focused on men only, they found that 26 percent of males with schizophrenia had the antibodies, compared to only 14 percent in the control group. Bipolar disorder men also had high antibody count, but the researchers attributed it to the years of homelessness.

Although the results were not found to be the same in women, the study uncovered that women with high antibody count with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder scored lower than anyone else on cognitive tests that measure immediate and delayed memory, attention skills, use of language, and visual-spatial skills.

Dr. Emily Severance, member of the Stanley Division of Developmental Neurovirology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said in the news release, “It’s far too early to single out candida infection as a cause of mental illness, or vice versa. However, most candida infections can be treated in their early stages, and clinicians should make it a point to look out for these infections in their patients with mental illness.” Continue reading…

Bipolar disorder, poor sleep quality trigger negative moods in womenBipolar disorder, poor sleep quality trigger negative moods in women

A study has found that poor quality sleep is linked to negative, lower mood in women with bipolar disorder. Dr. Erika Saunders, chair at the department of psychiatry at Penn State College of Medicine, said, “Patients with bipolar disorder often suffer with sleep problems, even when many of their other symptoms are well-controlled. Improving their sleep could not only better their quality of life, but also help them avoid mood episodes.”

“Women and men sleep differently. We know from studies of the general population that women have a different type of sleep architecture than men, and they’re at different risks for sleep disorders, particularly during the reproductive years,” explained Saunders.

Along with sleep differences, men and women experience bipolar disorder differently. Women often suffer more depressive symptoms than men, along with coexisting anxiety, eating disorders, and migraines. Continue reading…

Brain damage likely from chronic stress and anxietyBrain damage likely from chronic stress and anxiety: Study

Based on the results of an analytical study, scientists from the Rotman Research Institute, a division of Baycrest Health Sciences, caution people that chronic stress and anxiety may lead to an increased risk for developing depression, and even dementia.

So what exactly is chronic stress?

Anxiety, fear, and stress are common emotions and are considered a normal part of life. But only if they are occasional and temporary, such as feeling stressed and anxious before a job interview or an exam. However, when those acute emotional reactions become more frequent and long lasting, they turn into chronic stress.

To put it more scientifically, chronic stress is an abnormal state that is caused by an extended activation of a normal acute stress response. Chronic stress can wreak havoc on many systems in the body, including the immune system, the cardiovascular system, and the central nervous system – atrophy of certain important areas in the brain.

As part of their project, the researchers examined previously published articles on brain areas impacted by chronic anxiety, fear, and stress in animal and human models. Based on the collected data, the authors of the study came to the conclusion that all three conditions cause a “great overlap” of the neuro-circuitry in the brain. This overlap could help explain the link between the development of neuropsychiatric disorders (including depression and Alzheimer’s disease) and chronic stress.

The details of the study are posted in the online version of this month’s Opinion in Psychiatry.

According to lead author of the study Dr. Linda Mah, who is also a clinician scientist with Baycrest’s Rotman Research Institute and lead author of the review, chronic stress and pathological anxiety are associated with impaired functioning of the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex (PFC) and also lead to structural degeneration. The combination of the aforementioned impaired functioning and structural damage could be the reason behind the increased risk of developing neuropsychiatric disorders. Continue reading…

Dementia in seniors linked to severe depressionDementia in seniors linked to severe depression

Severe depression has been linked to dementia in seniors, with both major depression and worsening condition increasing a person’s risk of dementia. The study involved nearly 2,500 seniors in their 70s without any signs of dementia. Participants were monitored for five years for depression symptoms, and screened for six years for signs of dementia.

Twenty-one percent of the participants with serious or growing symptoms of depression developed dementia, compared to 12 percent who had consistently mild symptoms of depression.

Study author Allison Kaup said, “Our results raise the possibility that older adults’ cognitive [mental] health could be improved with interventions to reduce depressive symptoms, such as psychotherapy or other behavioral interventions, or medications. This is an important topic for future treatment studies to investigate.” Continue reading…

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