Research at the University of Kansas Medical Center

 

University of Kansas Medical Centerpic

University of Kansas Medical Center
Image: kumc.edu

Dr. Christie Mensch evaluates and treats patients with mental health issues at Wyandot Center in Kansas City, Kansas. Christie Mensch, MD, also supports the University of Kansas Medical Center (KUMC), where she completed her graduate medical education in psychiatry.

Dedicated to improving education, research, patient care, and the community, KUMC oversees the schools of medicine, nursing, and health professions and delivers highly regarded research programs. More than two-dozen research centers studying as many unique fields of medicine are under the KUMC umbrella.

The Medical Center is one of 62 facilities within the national Clinical and Translational Science Award consortium, through which medical discoveries are fast-tracked toward treatment, to provide vital care more promptly to patients in need.

Other significant programs include the Alzheimer’s Disease Center (one of only 29 such institutions in the country), the Center for American Indian Community Health, and the Clinical Research Center, which began offering early phase cancer trials in 2012.

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Amino Acid Linked to Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia pic

Schizophrenia
Image: medicalnewstoday.com

Dr. Christie Mensch serves as a psychiatrist at the Wyandot Center in Kansas City, Kansas. In this position, Dr. Christie Mensch provides outpatient services to patients with schizophrenia and other mental health challenges.

Researchers from the University of California, Irvine, recently announced the discovery of a potential link between the amino acid methionine and the onset of schizophrenia. Using a mouse model, the research team determined that an overabundance of this amino acid in the diet of an expectant mother could produce neurodevelopmental deficits that correspond with the presentation of schizophrenia.

The researchers started with mouse subjects in their third week of gestation. They then injected the mice with methionine levels three times higher than normal. After the pups were born, the team conducted a series of nine distinct neurological tests. Results indicated the presence of deficits in all categories of schizophrenic symptomatology.

Furthermore, after treating the mice with the anti-schizophrenic drugs haloperidol and clozapine, each of which targets a different symptom category, the researchers found that deficits in the mouse pups improved significantly. Team members hope to carry this research forward and investigate the molecular basis behind the identified deficits, in order to identify potential treatment targets.

Symptoms of Schizoid and Schizotypal Personality Disorders

Schizoid and Schizotypal  pic

Schizoid and Schizotypal
Image: disorders.org

As a psychiatrist at the Wyandot Center in Kansas City, Kansas, Christie Mensch offers evaluation and treatment for a wide variety of mental health challenges. Christie Mensch draws on experience in addressing personality disorders, including schizotypal and schizoid disorders.

Schizotypal and schizoid personality disorders both fall into what the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5), calls Cluster A, which features eccentric or unusual behaviors that persist throughout the adult lifespan. Both lead to difficulty building and maintaining relationships, though schizoid personality disorder is more closely linked to emotional detachment.

Individuals with schizoid personality disorder show little interest in having close friends or intimate partners, and they tend to struggle with perceiving and interpreting social cues. In addition, because these individuals present with minimal emotional expression and have trouble showing pleasure or joy, they often appear cold and unfeeling to others.

Those with schizotypal personality disorder tend to spend a great deal of time alone, though this is more likely to stem from an intense and unrelenting social anxiety. A person with this condition may also experience isolation due to speech patterns, emotional responses, and beliefs that differ noticeably from societal norms. Superstitions are common among individuals with this condition, as is a tendency to disproportionately relate outside events back to the self.

Signs of Anxiety

 

Signs of Anxiety pic

Signs of Anxiety
Image: webmd.com

Dr. Christie Mensch furnishes psychiatric care at Wyandot Center in Kansas City, Kansas. Anxiety is one among many mental health conditions treated by Dr. Christie Mensch.

Patients with anxiety disorders experience an abnormal amount of worry over months or years. Sometimes, these patients’ anxiety not only fails to dissipate, but even gets worse with time. Physicians organize anxiety into several types, including “generalized anxiety disorder” (GAD) and “panic disorder” (PD).

GAD encompasses such symptoms as restlessness, irritability, feelings of muscle tension, worrying that seems out of control, and problems concentrating. PD, on the other hand, is characterized largely by an event called a “panic attack.”

Panic attacks can occur suddenly and give rise to alarming physical symptoms like shortness of breath and heart palpitations. Patients who have experienced panic attacks may be burdened by fear that they’ll happen again to the extent that they avoid locations where they’ve had such attacks in the past.

In the United States, experts estimate that 40 million patients live with anxiety disorders. Of those, about 13 million get the help they need. Anxiety is a treatable illness, and patients with anxiety symptoms can consult their physician about avenues for care.

Characteristics of Dependent Personality Disorder

 

Dependent Personality Disorder pic

Dependent Personality Disorder
Image: webmd.com

Dr. Christie Mensch serves as a psychiatrist at the Wyandot Center in Kansas City, Kansas. At the mental health center, Dr. Christie Mensch draws on experience treating patients with personality disorders.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5), describes a personality disorder as a pervasive maladaptive pattern of relating that affects the way an individual perceives and interacts with others, the environment, and the self on a consistent basis across the adult lifespan. To be diagnosed with a personality disorder, the person’s experience must significantly deviate from cultural norms and must affect at least two of a group of areas that include cognition, affect regulation, social functioning, and control of impulses.

Dependent personality disorder includes conditions characterized by anxiety and fear. Persons with dependent personality disorder fear to be alone and feel incapable of caring for themselves.

Such individuals depend on others, or a single significant other, to make most major and minor decisions ranging from everyday wardrobe selections to career paths. Because people with dependent personality disorder feel so dependent on others, they avoid conflict and seek to ingratiate themselves with others.

This need to be controlled goes beyond what is typical for the person’s age and developmental stage. Adults may continue to depend on parents or seek out new relationships as soon as old relationships end so they do not have to face their fear of functioning independently in society.

Three Underrated European Cities Worth Visiting

Palmanova, Italy pic

Palmanova, Italy
Image: amusingplanet.com

As a psychiatrist at Wyandot Center, Christie Mensch evaluates and treats adults with a variety of mental health issues, including depression, personality disorders, and trauma. In her time away from work, Christie Mensch has traveled extensively in Europe.

Tourists looking to explore beyond the famous cities of Europe have plenty of options. Below are three lesser-known yet memorable European cities:

Palmanova, Italy: A fortified city, Palmanova has an unmatched medieval charm. The entire city was designed in the shape of a hexagon, and its main streets radiate out from the city square in the middle. Known as the Grand Piazza, this square houses the Duomo Dogale cathedral.

Gibraltar, Spain: This densely populated city on the coast of Spain provides visitors with a glimpse into the rich culture and history of the area. Although Gibraltar’s only official landmark is the Rock of Gibraltar, the city has been occupied since 28,000 BC, giving it a long history that even experienced travelers find awe-inspiring.

Innsbruck, Austria: Despite hosting the Winter Olympic Games twice, Innsbruck has remained in relative obscurity. Located in the Alpine mountains in Austria, the city offers visitors a number of opportunities to enjoy winter sports. Visitors can also explore historic sites, museums, and castles dotted around the colorful city.

How Trauma Affects the Brain

Brain pic

Brain
Image: psychologytoday.com

Dr. Christie Mensch serves as a psychiatrist at the Wynadot Center in Kansas City, Kansas. In this role, Dr. Christie Mensch has evaluated and treated many survivors of trauma.

When a person survives an extremely traumatic event, whether a one-time occurrence or a sustained threat to safety, that experience changes the way the person’s brain responds to the world. This occurs in the context of the triune brain model, which distinguishes the survival-focused hindbrain from the emotional and sensory midbrain and the logical forebrain.

Trauma causes the hindbrain to assume control and work to keep the victim alive. The higher order functions of the brain essentially turn off as stress hormones prepare the body for the fight, flight, or freeze response.

The brain is designed to do this in response to threats of danger, but a severe trauma can prevent the intended response of ending survival mode and returning the forebrain to its normal status of rational control. Without this control, the instinctual and emotional responses of the lower-level brain take over.

The amygdala, responsible for identifying threats and connecting memory with emotion, becomes overactive and causes the person to perceive a threat in benign situations. At the same time, an increase in stress hormones prevents the brain from deescalating these threat perceptions.

These processes combine with trauma-induced increased blood flow to the right forebrain and decreased flow to the left forebrain. The person experiences a higher concentration of negative emotions and a reduced capacity to process or voice memories.

The result is often a distressing combination of symptoms that include intrusive thoughts, persistent fear, and negative mood and self-perception. It is possible for these changes to reverse, though it does require professional support and hard work on the part of the individual. Different treatments work for different people, though all involve rewiring and reprogramming affected neural processes.