Mental Health Month: Schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression, and anxiety

May is Mental Health Month, and in light of this we have compiled a roundup of some of our news pieces that discuss schizophrenia, yeast infections, bipolar disorder, major depression, and asthma. These stories discuss stress and anxiety triggers in asthma, increased risk of bipolar disorder in the child due to flue in pregnancy, shared genetic risk factors among schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depression, and much more – just keep scrolling to find out!

Mental health issues are a growing problem. The more awareness is raised the better we can be at dispelling the stigma that surrounds mental health.

Schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depression share genetic risk factors: StudySchizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depression share genetic risk factors: Study


Research published in Nature Neuroscience from the Louisiana State University Health Science Centers revealed a genetic risk factor that is shared between schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depression. Lead researcher Nancy Buccola and her team examined data from 60,000 participants, including those with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression, autism, attention deficit disorders, as well as individuals without any diagnosed conditions.

The researchers found strong associations between mechanisms related to immune function and changes in processes when genes are turned on and off. The findings confirm known mechanisms as well as reveal new ones that pertain to the development of psychiatric disorders.

Treatments are available for many mental disorders, but many patients do not obtain relief from such treatments. Buccola stated, “The PGC is a collaboration of some of the finest psychiatric genetic researchers in the world who are working together to understand the biology that underlies psychiatric disorders. This knowledge is critical in developing more effective and personalized treatments. I feel fortunate to make even a small contribution to this important work.” Continue reading…

Stress and anxiety trigger asthma symptomsStress and anxiety trigger asthma symptoms

In teens, stress and anxiety have been found to trigger asthma symptoms, such as awakening throughout the night with shortness of breath. The small study consisted of 38 asthmatic teenagers with stress and anxiety scores higher than the general population.

Study lead author Cathryn Luria said, “Because these patients may be particularly vulnerable to stress and anxiety, this information can be helpful to physicians as they counsel their patients about the importance of managing their asthma. While we found a link between asthma symptoms and stress and anxiety, it’s not clear which came first – the symptoms or the stress and anxiety. More study is needed to determine that.”
Emotional disorders are found to be common in asthma sufferers, but the researchers aimed to uncover the association between the two in a defined population. Continue reading…

Flu in pregnancy can increase risk of bipolar disorder in childFlu in pregnancy can increase risk of bipolar disorder in child

Experiencing the flu during pregnancy can increase the risk of bipolar disorder in the child. A study funded by the National Institutes of Health found that pregnant women who had the flu had a four times higher risk of having children with bipolar disorder, compared to women who did not contract the flu during pregnancy. The findings contribute to other studies that reveal similarities between schizophrenia and flu during pregnancy.

Lead researcher Alan Brown said, “Prospective mothers should take common sense preventive measures, such as getting flu shots prior to and in the early stages of pregnancy, and avoiding contact with people who are symptomatic. In spite of public health recommendations, only a relatively small fraction of such women get immunized. The weight of evidence now suggests that benefits of the vaccine likely outweigh any possible risk to the mother or newborn.”

The study followed families using physician-based diagnoses and structured standardized psychiatric measures. The researchers specifically followed 92 children who developed bipolar disorder, born between 1959 and 1966. They compared rates of maternal flu with 722 matched controls.

The researchers found nearly a four-fold higher risk of bipolar disorder in children whose mothers had the flu. Furthermore, the risk may be higher if the flu occurred during the second or third trimesters.

Brown’s previous research found an increase of schizophrenia in children whose mothers developed the flu while pregnant. Brown added, “Future research might investigate whether this same environmental risk factor might give rise to different disorders, depending on how the timing of the prenatal insult affects the developing fetal brain.”

Both bipolar disorder and schizophrenia share many common traits, including onset of symptoms in early adulthood, family history, and genetic susceptibility. Continue reading…

Schizophrenia linked to frequent suicide attemptsSchizophrenia linked to frequent suicide attempts

Schizophrenia patients are at a higher risk for suicide attempts, compared to those without the mental disorder. The Canadian study looked at 21,700 individuals of which 101 were diagnosed with schizophrenia. Thirty-nine percent of schizophrenia patients attempted suicide, compared to only three percent of the population without the mental disorder.

Study author Esme Fuller-Thomson said, “Even after taking into account most of the known risk factors for suicide attempts, those with schizophrenia had six times the odds of having attempted suicide, in comparison to those without schizophrenia.”

The researchers then focused on the 101 schizophrenia patients and found that “women and those with a history of drug or alcohol abuse and/or major depressive disorder were much more likely to have attempted suicide,” explained coauthor Bailey Hollister. Continue reading…

Yeast infection in men linked to schizophrenia, bipolar disorderYeast 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…