Tag Archives | mental disorder

The Mental Illness Taboo is a Problem for All of Us

via New Scientist brain23

As celebrities become more open about their mental health problems, stigma still ensures most people conceal such illnesses, say two researchers in the field

In recent weeks Ruby Wax and Stephen Fry have once again reminded us that the lives of the famous are not always as perfect as we might think. Not for the first time, these two stars of British TV have publicly discussed their mental health: Wax her depression and Fry his bipolar disorder. Their continued openness furthers a helpful trend among celebrities. But for the vast majority with such conditions, discussion is not the norm.

Stigma and discrimination have long been major barriers to people with mental illness. The same is not true for other conditions: it is inconceivable that a person with asthma or hypertension, for example, would have faeces posted through their letter box to scare them away from the neighbourhood.

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CAMH Study Shows Mental Illness Associated With Heavy Cannabis Use

via Science Codex reefermadness

People with mental illnesses are more than seven times more likely to use cannabis weekly compared to people without a mental illness, according to researchers from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) who studied U.S. data.

Cannabis is the most widely used illicit substance globally, with an estimated 203 million people reporting use. Although research has found links between cannabis use and mental illness, exact numbers and prevalence of problem cannabis use had not been investigated.

“We know that people with mental illness consume more cannabis, perhaps partially as a way to self- medicate psychiatric symptoms, but this data showed us the degree of the correlation between cannabis use, misuse, and mental illness,” said Dr. Shaul Lev-ran, Adjunct Scientist at CAMH and Head of Addiction Medicine at the Sheba Medical Center, Israel.

“Based on the number individuals reporting weekly use, we see that people with mental illness use cannabis at high rates.

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Leading Neuroscientist: Religious Fundamentalism May Be a ‘Mental Illness’ That Can Be ‘Cured’

326px-St_Dymphna

Dymphna

via David Edwards The Raw Story

A leading neurologist at the University of Oxford said this week that recent developments meant that science may one day be able to identify religious fundamentalism as a “mental illness” and a cure it.

During a talk at the Hay Literary Festival in Wales on Wednesday, Kathleen Taylor was asked what positive developments she anticipated in neuroscience in the next 60 years.

“One of the surprises may be to see people with certain beliefs as people who can be treated,” she explained, according to The Times of London. “Somebody who has for example become radicalised to a cult ideology – we might stop seeing that as a personal choice that they have chosen as a result of pure free will and may start treating it as some kind of mental disturbance.”

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What It’s Like To Live As A Dead Person

cotard's syndrome

From New Scientist, what it’s like to live with the constant, crushing realization that you are dead:

Nine years ago, Graham woke up and discovered he was dead. He was in the grip of Cotard’s syndrome. People with this rare condition believe that they, or parts of their body, no longer exist.

For Graham, it was his brain that was dead, and he believed that he had killed it. Suffering from severe depression, he had tried to commit suicide by taking an electrical appliance with him into the bath.

“When I was in hospital I kept on telling them that the tablets weren’t going to do me any good ’cause my brain was dead. I lost my sense of smell and taste. I didn’t need to eat, or speak, or do anything…everything was meaningless.”

Neurologist Adam Zeman said, “He felt he was in a limbo state caught between life and death.”

Some people with Cotard’s have reportedly died of starvation, believing they no longer needed to eat.

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Standard Psychiatric Manual Drops Asperger’s And Gender Identity Disorder, Adds Hoarding

The American Psychiatric Association catches up to progress regarding transsexualism, and recognizes the form of insanity which best represents our epoch: hoarding. Via CBS News:

Asperger’s syndrome will be dropped from the latest edition of the psychiatrist’s “bible,” the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) announced on Saturday the changes to its flagship manual that doctors use to diagnose patients with mental disorders. It’s the first major rewrite in nearly 20 years.

The familiar “Asperger’s” will be lumped together under autism spectrum disorder, “to help more accurately and consistently diagnose children with autism,” the APA said in a statement. Other changes include entries for new disorders such as “hoarding disorder.”

[APA is also] eliminating the term “gender identity disorder,” which has been used for children or adults who strongly believe that they were born the wrong gender. But many activists believe the condition isn’t a disorder and say calling it one is stigmatizing.

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Most People With A Mental Disorder Are Happy

headA reminder that “normal” does not necessarily equal “happy”. Via BPS Research Digest:

It’s easy for us to slip into all-or-nothing mindsets. An example would be: a person has some psychological problems so their life must be miserable. But that’s a mistaken assumption. So argue a team of Dutch positive psychologists, who’ve studied over seven thousand people over a three year period.

Yes, those participants with a psychological disorder were less happy than those without, but the majority (68.4 per cent) of the mentally troubled said they “often felt happy” during the preceding four weeks. “The possibility of coexisting happiness and mental disorders is of clinical relevance,” write Ad Bergsma and his team. “A narrow focus on what goes wrong in the lives of the client and forgetting what goes well, may limit therapeutic results.”

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Mysterious Tourettes-Like Tics Strike Teen Population Of New York Town

800px-Downtown_Le_Roy,_NYCan this really be a case of youthful “mass hysteria”? Feel bad for the left-out teens who have not acquired the exciting mystery illness. Via MSNBC:

The mystery illness now producing Tourette’s-like symptoms in a more than a dozen girls from upstate New York is also affecting a 36-year-old who is experiencing the same tics as the teens. Some neurologists have suggested the illness could be “conversion disorder,” or mass hysteria.

High school student Thera Sanchez, 17, and 14 others started experiencing the odd symptoms last fall: stammering, verbal outbursts and limb spasms.

The teens’ plight captured the attention of environmental activist Erin Brockovich, who began speaking out about a 1970 train accident that spilled cyanide and industrial solvent four miles from the teens’ school, LeRoy Junior-Senior High School. According to a 1999 Environmental Protection Agency report, approximately 35,000 gallons of TCE (trichloroethene) contaminated the area near the derailment.

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On Living As A Real-Life Psychopath

americanpsycho2Wondering what it would be like to walk in Patrick Bateman’s shoes? From author Jon Ronson, a letter he received in response to The Psychopath Test, his much-talked-about book published a couple months ago, from a young psychopath (who felt no or guilt or emotion, but an overwhelming urge to prey on others). Can you empathize?

I just saw your interview on Australia’s ABC 7:30 report on ‘The Psychopath Test’ and wanted to share my experience. I hope that it can remain confidential for the time being, seeing as it is quite personal.

But, when I was 19 (I’m 26-27 now) I went into long-term therapy – for psychopathy.

My case was rather unusual in that I self-referred. The mental health agency had not had a walk-in of this kind before. In the lead up, I had found myself becoming overwhelmed with a predatorial instinct that I could not shake – I’d sit, watching crowds of people go by, driven to mania by what I saw as their limitless inferiorities.

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Mental Illness ‘In A Dish’

Cell culture in a petri dish. Photo: Jacopo Werther (CC)

Cell culture in a petri dish. Photo:

Researchers are using skin cells from patients with mental illnesses, such s schizophrenia, to grow new tissue as neurons. The hope is to find a genetic based influence for mental disorders and recognize the early stages of such diseases. From Ewen Callaway via Nature News:

Before committing suicide at the age of 22, an anonymous man with schizophrenia donated a biopsy of his skin cells to research. Reborn as neurons, these cells may help neuroscientists to unpick the disease he struggled with from early childhood.

Experiments on these cells, as well as those of several other patients, are reported today in Nature1. They represent the first of what are sure to be many mental illnesses ‘in a dish’, made by reprogramming patients’ skin cells to an embryonic-like state from which they can form any tissue type.

Recreating neuropsychiatric conditions such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder using such cells represents a daunting challenge: scientists do not know the underlying biological basis of mental illnesses; symptoms vary between patients; and although psychiatric illnesses are strongly influenced by genes, it has proved devilishly hard to identify many that explain more than a fraction of a person’s risk.

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