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Schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression and alcoholism exhibit similar patterns of genetic activity, says study
Posted in Dual diagnosis

It is estimated that one in five American adults could have a mental health condition at some point in their life, which is roughly equivalent to 43.8 million people. While depression is the most common mental illness, 2.8 percent live with bipolar disorder; 1.1 percent with schizophrenia and 10.7 percent of young adults aged 18-25 years (3.7 million) had an alcohol use disorder (AUD) in the past year, says the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. To a large extent, genetic make-up and social environment increase the likelihood of suffering from these diseases. And now a recent study published in the Science journal says that brain activity could be common in all these psychiatric disorders. This could pave way for better diagnostic assessment and treatment.

The study said that schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, alcoholism, depression and autism share similarities in genetic activity. The researchers arrived at the conclusion after an analysis of data from the brain of dead people who had once been diagnosed either with a psychiatric condition or not at all. They found same levels of particular molecules in the brains of the people who had schizophrenia, autism and bipolar disorder. In addition, they also found commonality between major depression and bipolar disorder, and depression and alcoholism.

According to the lead researcher of the study, Daniel Geschwind, a neurogeneticist at the University of California, “Psychiatric disorders have no obvious pathology in the brain, but now we have the genomic tools to ask what actually goes awry in these brains. Gene-expression patterns might someday be good targets for reversal by medication.” Since many deceased subjects might have taken antipsychotic medication that caused the overlapping molecular patterns, the researchers compared them with monkeys’ brain samples who were first administered PCP to evoke psychosis, then given antipsychotics to treat their condition and to partially normalize the genetic activity. The study suggested that bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and autism have dysfunctional synapses, which are places between neurons where information is exchanged.

Most psychiatric illnesses have overlapping symptoms, making them difficult to diagnose. Though genetic variation was responsible for the varied activity in the brain, the authors did not rule out the contribution of environmental factors. Some of the most prominent environmental factors contributing to a mental health condition could be:

Substance abuse: Use of drugs and alcohol can lead to mental health disorders, such as anxiety, depression, bipolar and schizophrenia.

Past trauma: A childhood traumatic experience, such as the death of a parent or being witness to a natural calamity, could result in a mental illness later in life. Therefore, it is necessary to ensure that those who have undergone trauma are psychoanalyzed so that the recurrent flashbacks and nightmares do not spoil the joys of life.

Social conditioning: The social conditioning of a child or of an adolescent is important. A child who lives with parents addicted to substances is not only likely to grow depressed and display antisocial tendencies but he/she is just as likely to engage in substance abuse.

Co-occurrence of mental disorder and substance abuse

When it comes to mental health disorders, it is necessary to screen for underlying alcoholism or drug abuse problems. It is possible for a person living with depression, schizophrenia or bipolar disorder to have a substance use disorder as well. When the two conditions occur simultaneously, it is known as dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorders. It is difficult to ascertain what came first and if one caused the other.

The 2016 National Survey on Drug use and Health (NSDUH) states that 8.2 million adults aged 18 or older in the country had co-occurring disorders. Unfortunately, most people with dual diagnosis do not receive timely or appropriate diagnosis treatment.

Road to better living

Dual diagnosis is curable if timely and appropriate treatment is provided to the patient. The best approach is an integrated intervention when the person receives treatment for both the disorders at the same time.

Sovereign Health is a trusted name in the field of dual diagnosis, behavioral and addiction treatment. Our El Paso facility is one of the best dual diagnosis treatment centers in Texas providing an array of therapeutic programs in order to treat the person holistically. Call our 24/7 helpline number or chat online to know more about our well-equipped dual diagnosis rehab centers where patients can confidently regain control of their life.

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