Center for Schizoaffective Disorder Education and Information

Center for Schizoaffective Disorder Education and Information

Benefits of antipsychotics outweigh risks, find experts

An international group of experts has concluded that, for patients with schizophrenia and related psychotic disorders, antipsychotic medications do not have negative long-term effects on patients' outcomes or the brain. In addition, the benefits of these medications are much greater than their potential side effects.

These findings, by Jeffrey Lieberman, MD, Lawrence C. Kolb Professor and Chairman of Psychiatry at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeon and Director of the New York State Psychiatric Institute, and colleagues from institutions in the United States, Germany, The Netherlands, Austria, Japan, and China, were published today in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

Nearly seven million Americans take antipsychotic medications for the treatment of schizophrenia and related conditions.

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Genetics researchers close in on schizophrenia

Genetics researchers close in on schizophrenia
50 new gene regions that increase risk of developing schizophrenia
Researchers at the MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics at Cardiff University have discovered 50 new gene regions that increase the risk of developing schizophrenia. They have also used state-of-the-art information about brain development to accurately pinpoint new genes and biological pathways implicated in this disorder.

The largest of its kind, the study examined genetic data in 100,000 individuals including 40,000 people with a diagnosis of schizophrenia and also found that some of the genes identified as increasing risk for schizophrenia have previously been associated with other neurodevelopmental disorders, including intellectual disability and autism spectrum disorders.
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Middle School Mental Health Program Educates, Reduces Stigma

Mental Health Matters, a middle school-based mental health program, is successfully educating students about mental illness and helping to reduce the associated stigma, according to a new study published in the Journal of School Health.

Today, the Mental Health Matters program is in place in 35 classrooms in Santa Barbara County, California. Its focus is on helping sixth graders learn to recognize the signs and symptoms of six major mental illnesses: attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and stress disorders, major depression, bipolar disorders, eating disorders and schizophrenia.

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Having a sibling with schizophrenia increases risk for disorder 10-fold

Individuals with a sibling with schizophrenia were approximately ten times more likely to develop the disorder and had increased risk for bipolar disorder and other mental health disorders, according to findings presented at the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology Congress.

“This is a large study which allows us to put meaningful figures on the risks of developing mental disorders after they have arisen in a brother or sister. The figures are quite striking, with [10 times the] risk of developing schizophrenia, and similar risks once a sibling has developed bipolar disorder,” study researcher Mark Weiser MD, of Sheba Medical Center, Ramat Gan, Israel, said in a press release.

To determine risk for hospitalization due to psychiatric disorders among siblings of individuals with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, researchers used the Israeli Psychiatric Hospitalization Registry and the Israeli Population Registry to identify 6,111 individuals hospitalized with a diagnosis of schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder or unipolar depression and 74,988 age- and gender-matched controls.

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Gene Study of 41,000 Finds Variations Linked to Schizophrenia

Many of the genetic variations that increase risk for schizophrenia are rare, making it difficult to study their role in the disease. To overcome this, the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium, an international team led by Jonathan Sebat, PhD, at University of California San Diego School of Medicine, analyzed the genomes of more than 41,000 people in the largest genome-wide study of its kind to date. Their study, published November 21 in Nature Genetics, reveals several regions of the genome where mutations increase schizophrenia risk between four- and 60-fold.

These mutations, known as copy number variants, are deletions or duplications of the DNA sequence. A copy number variant may affect dozens of genes, or it can disrupt or duplicate a single gene. This type of variation can cause significant alterations to the genome and lead to psychiatric disorders, said Sebat, who is a professor and chief of the Beyster Center for Genomics of Neuropsychiatric Diseases at UC San Diego School of Medicine. Sebat and other researchers previously discovered that relatively large copy number variants occur more frequently in schizophrenia than in the general population.

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