Brain abnormality indicates general risk for mental illness

A new study by researchers at Duke University reports an abnormality in visual regions of the brain that is associated with a person’s general risk for mental illness. The findings, published in Biological Psychiatry, indicate a signature abnormality shared between common forms of mental illness, which could help clinicians assess a patient’s general risk for developing a mental illness. The signature abnormality was present in participants involved in the study who already had a higher risk of mental illness. This was characterized by a reduced efficiency between visual areas and brain networks important for integrating sensory information and suppressing distracting information.

Researchers have long thought that some aspects of the biology of the risk for psychiatric disorders were specific to particular disorders, and by studying specific groups of patients, may have mistaken general risk factors as specific risk factors. Newer research suggests that a person’s risk for developing mental illness is not specific to one form of disorder, but is instead shared across many different disorders. “In other words, there may be a single risk factor that predicts whether an individual develops any form of psychiatric disorder, be it depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, addiction, or even schizophrenia,” said first author Maxwell Elliott, a doctoral student in the laboratory of Ahmad Hariri, PhD.

Full story at Science Daily

Very preterm birth not associated with mood, anxiety disorders

Do very-preterm or very-low-weight babies develop anxiety and mood disorders later in life? Julia Jaekel, assistant professor of child and family studies at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and Dieter Wolke, professor of psychology at the University of Warwick, co-authored a study to answer this question.

The team studied nearly 400 individuals from birth to adulthood. Half of the participants had been born before 32 weeks gestation or at a very low birth weight (less than 3.3 pounds), and the other half had been born at term and normal birth weight. They assessed each participant when they were 6, 8 and 26 years old using detailed clinical interviews of psychiatric disorders.

“Previous research has reported increased risks for anxiety and mood disorders, but these studies were based on small samples and did not include repeated assessments for over 20 years,” said Jaekel.

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Mental illness genetically linked to drug use and misuse

There are many reports of drug use leading to mental health problems, and we all know of someone having a few too many drinks to cope with a bad day. Many people who are diagnosed with a mental health disorder indulge in drugs, and vice versa. As severity of both increase, problems arise and they become more difficult to treat. But why substance involvement and psychiatric disorders often co-occur is not well understood.

In addition to environmental factors, such as stress and social relationships, a person’s genetic make-up can also contribute to their vulnerability to drug use and misuse as well as mental health problems. So could genetic risk for mental illness be linked to a person’s liability to use drugs?

This question has been addressed in a new study, published in the open-access journal Frontiers in Genetics.

Full story of mental illness genetically linked to drug use at Science Daily

Brain study confirms gene mutation link to psychiatric disorders

Brain scans have revealed how a genetic mutation linked to major psychiatric disorders affects the structure, function and chemistry of the brain.

The study offers further clues about how the mutation increases the risk of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression.

Experts say the findings could help in the quest for new treatments.

Researchers led by the University of Edinburgh scanned the brains of people that have a specific genetic mutation that causes part of one chromosome to swap places with another.

Full story of gene mutation and psychiatric disorders at Science Daily

Infections, antibiotic use linked to manic episodes in people with serious mental illness

In research using patient medical records, investigators from Johns Hopkins and Sheppard Pratt Health System report that people with serious mental disorders who were hospitalized for mania were more likely to be on antibiotics to treat active infections than a group of people without a mental disorder.

Although the researchers caution that their study does not suggest cause and effect, they note that it does suggest that an infection, use of antibiotics or other factors that change the body’s natural collection of gut and other bacteria may individually or collectively contribute to behavioral changes in some people with mental disorders.

Their findings, published July 18 in Bipolar Disorders, add to evidence that the body’s immune system, the so-called gut brain axis, and the particular bacterial microbiome each person has play an integral part in the ebb and flow of psychiatric symptoms and psychiatric disorders, including bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

Full story of manic episodes with mental illness at Science Daily

Videogame addiction linked to ADHD

Young and single men are at risk of being addicted to video games. The addiction indicates an escape from ADHD and psychiatric disorder.

“Video game addiction is more prevalent among younger men, and among those not being in a current relationship, than others,” says, Cecilie Schou Andreassen, doctor of psychology and clinical psychologist specialist at Department of Psychosocial Science, University of Bergen (UiB).

Schou Andreassen has carried out a study with more than 20 000 participants who answered questions related to videogame addiction. The study is published in the journal Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, of the American Psychological Association.

Escape from psychiatric disorders

The study showed that video game addiction appears to be associated with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and depression.

Full story of video game addiction and ADHD at Science Daily

Finding shared pathways for psychiatric disorders

Nancy Buccola, MSN, APRN, PMHCNS-BC, CNE, Assistant Professor of Clinical Nursing at LSU Health New Orleans School of Nursing, contributed samples used in a study reporting shared genetic risk factors and common pathways for schizophrenia, major depression and bipolar disorder. The results are published online January 19, 2015 in Nature Neuroscience.

Buccola collected samples as part of the Molecular Genetics of Schizophrenia (MGS) study, part of genome-wide association study data being analyzed by the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium (PGC), a large international collaboration. For this study, the researchers examined data from 60,000 participants, including people with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression, autism spectrum disorders and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder as well as healthy individuals, to identify biological pathways for psychiatric disorders. They found strong association between mechanisms related to immune function as well as changes in processes that turn genes on and off. The results indicate that risk variants for psychiatric disorders aggregate in particular biological pathways and that these pathways are frequently shared between disorders. The findings confirm known mechanisms and suggest several new insights into the development of psychiatric disorders.

Full story of pathways for psychiatric disorders at Science Daily