Schizophrenia could be responsible for over 10% of all suicides, a new study finds.
Investigating the 5650 suicides committed between 2008 and 2012 in Ontario, Canada, a recent study established that 12% involved individuals with schizhoprenia spectrum disorders (SSD).
The prevalence rate of SSD is estimated at 1% of the general population.
Compared to other cases, these victims were younger, poorer, and utilized more health services (even compared to a subpopulaion with severe mental illness.)
Schizophrenia is a severe psychiatric condition characterized by hallucinations, delusions, and disorganized speech and behavior; and this study highlight the potentially deadly nature of this disorder.
Source: Kurdyak et alia (2018)
Half of patients treated with dopamine replacement therapy at risk of developing impulse-control disorders
The symptoms of Parkinson’s (tremors, impaired speech, etc.) come from the fact that the disease affects the production of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with movement. For that reason, patients are often treated with medications boosting dopamine activity.
However, dopamine also plays a key role in reward and motivation. As a consequence, people taking dopamine agonists are at risk of developing impulse-control disorders (ICD) such as compulsive gambling, shopping, eating, etc. The risk could even be as high as 50%, a new study finds.
Studying a multicenter cohort of 400+ patients with Parkison’s over the course of five years, Corvol et alia (2018) found that:
-51.5% developed ICD
-Daily dose and duration of treatment were both predictors of ICD
-ICD symptoms disappeared after discontinuation of the treatment (50% after a year for a subgroup of 30 patients)
Source: Corvol et alia (2018)
UK’s National Health Service is preparing to launch its first internet addiction clinic
“A London hospital is preparing to launch the first NHS-funded internet addiction centre for young people and adults” The Guardian revealed.
The centre ill initially focus on gaming disorder--a new diagnosis to be introduced in the forthcoming 11th edition of the International Classification of Diseases, the World Health Organization announced earlier this week.
However, the plan is to expand services in the future to cover other internet-based addictions--for instance, porn- or social media addiction.
Source: The Guardian
Pregnancy complications might turn on schizophrenia genes.
Looking at the genetic profiles and prenatal histories of nearly 4,000 adults from four countries, about half of which had been diagnosed with schizophrenia, a recent study found that a number of genes known to be associated with the disorder were likely to be turned on by pregnancy complications.
The latter included serious problems, such as pre-eclampsia, intrauterine growth restriction, and premature rupture of membranes.
Moreover, in high-risk patients, these complications came with a fivefold increase in the risk of developing the psychotic disorder.
Interestingly, males seemed to be more vulnerable than females to such prenatal stress factors.
Source: Weinberger et alia (2018)
Gaming addiction is to be officially classified as a disease by the World Health Organization
The World Health Organization just announced that the 11th edition of its International Classification of Diseases will include a “Gaming disorder” defined by the three following symptoms (present for a year at least):
Gaming behavior takes precedence over other activities, to the extent that other activities become peripheral.
The control over these behaviors is impaired, and they continue, or even escalate, as their negative consequences occur.
The condition leads to significant distress and impairment in personal, family, social, educational or occupational functioning.
Gaming will thus become (after gambling) the second offcially recognized non-substance addictive disorder.
It should be noted, however, that not all psychiatrists agree with the new diagnosis, many pointing out that behaviors such as gaming can be a coping mechanism for individuals with an underlying “true” condition, such as Major Depression.
Sources: WHO 2018
Scientists may have identified genes associated with infantile schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is a major mental disorder, sometimes dubbed the “cancer of psychiatry.” Indeed, individuals with this condition experience hallucinations, delusions, and often exhibit disorganized thought, speech, and behavior, leading to significant distress and impairment in functioning.
Even more disturbing is childhood-onsent schizophrenia, which comes with similar symptoms, but occurs before adolescence. Children suffering fro this condition are generally severely disabled and never get to enjoy a normal life.
To shed light on this disorder, Chaumette et alia (2018) analyzed genetic data from 19 patients and compared them to their unaffected parents. This allowed the researchers to identify a mutation in the ATP1A3 gene that could constitute a natural vulnerability.
Interestingly, this gene plays a crucial role in the normal functioning of neurons--more specifically, in reuptake, or reabsorption of neurochemical molecules post-neurotransmission.
This finding could also help further our currently very limited understanding of the heritability of schizophrenia, which is estimated at 80%.
Source: Chaumette et alia (2018)
Neuroscientists have located the cells that store long-lasting memories of traumatic experiences
Using mice engineered to carry a reporter gene signaling neuronal activity, as well as a fear-inducing exercise, researchers were able to identify the subpopulation of neurons that are involved in storing long-term traumatic memories and to locate them in a specific part of the hippocampus: the dentate gyrus.
Next, mice underwent a fear-reducing training resembling exposure-based therapy in humans. Interestingly, mice no longer showed signs of trauma, but the same population of neurons was still active.
Moreover, when researchers reduced the excitability of this population of neurons, mice showed less fear reduction following a similar training--but more when their excitability was enhanced.
Overall, this suggests that the same brain region may be involved in both storing and rewriting traumatic memories.
Source: Khalaf et alia (2018)
Predisposition to depression could be linked to the stress hormone cortisol and have a genetic basis, a new massive study finds.
In a new study published in the prestigious journal Nature, researchers compared the DNA of depressed and non depressed patients and were able to identify two genetic variations associated with depressive symptoms.
Interestingly, one of them is linked to a gene to the production of the “stress hormone” cortisol.
This study, one of the largest ever conducted on the subject, initially involved researchers from 17 countries and over 160,000 subjects. Its results werelater corroborated with an ever larger cohorst of nearly 370,000 individuals.
Source: Okbay et alia (2018)