Schizophrenia News: September 2013

  • New treatments for mental illness might focus on their common genetic underpinning now that a genetic link has been found for depression, schizophrenia and autism.


    Researchers currently report that known genetic variations account for 17 percent to 20 percent of the risk for schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder, autism and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).


    Nearly 400 scientists in 20 countries worked with genetic data from 59,000 people.


    The most highly correlated illnesses were bipolar and schizophrenia.


    The idea is that these illnesses might not have their root in different genes rather from different timing of exposures to risk factors like toxins in pregnancy or early life trauma.

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    Funded by National Institute on Mental Health (NIMH), the research heralds support for Dr. Thomas Insel's new NIMH focus on Research Domain Criteria (R-DOC) instead of DSM V diagnoses.


    The focus on the biological root of illnesses is seen as a better way to create treatments than relying on the DSM's distinct categories.


    (Common genetic ground found for depression, schizophrenia, autism retrieved on September 5, 2013 from hyttp://


    A study published in the journal Neuron indicates the severity of schizophrenia symptoms like hearing voices and delusions is the result of a disconnection between two key regions of the brain: the insula and the lateral frontal cortex.


    The research team used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans to comapre the  brains of 38 individuals with schizophrenia to the brains of 35 healthy volunteers.


    The majority of the healthy people could switch from inner thoughts to external reality via the connections between the insula and the frontal cortex regions.  The schizophrenia patients were less likely to shift to using their frontal cortex.


    The co-lead researcher Lena Palaniyappan stated this could explain why internal thoughts appear as voices or hallucinations.  It might also explain why individuals experiencing schizophrenia find it hard to take in external material pleasure like enjoying a social event or listening to music.


    (Study links schizophrenia symptoms to faulty "switch" in brain, retrieved on September 5, 2013 from




    "Psychotropics lower, don't raise, mortality in psych patients" is the title of good news from Medscape that details an analysis of more than 92,000 patients with psychiatric illnesses.


    The researchers collected all of the mortality data from the Summary Basis of Approval (SBA) U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reports for 28 psychopharmacologic drugs between 1990 and 2011.


    The overall mortality "was lower among patients with schizophrenia assigned to antipsychotic agents, including haloperidol and modern atypical antipsychotics, compared with patients with schizophrenia assigned to a placebo."


    Treatment with modern psychotropic drugs decreased mortality risk by 25 percent to 70 percent.


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    Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman, professor and chairman of psychiatry at Columbia University, New York, New York suggests that it is the illness itself and the impaired lifestyle that can be risk factors for increased mortality.


    "Treatment, while it may have sides effects, has a net benefit to people by mitigating their illness and protecting them from the lifestyle patterns that incur increased morbidity and mortality and prevents people who are potentially include to suicide from acting on those inclinations," according to Dr. Lieberman in the Medscape article.


    (Psychotropics lower, don't raise, mortality in psych patients, retrieved on September 5, 2013 from

Published On: September 26, 2013