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.

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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.

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.

The Zero Suicide Initiative at Wyandot Center

Wyandot Center pic

Wyandot Center
Image: wyandotcenter.org

Psychiatrist Dr. Christie Mensch works with adult patients at Wyandot Center, a mental health facility located in Kansas City, Kansas. Dr. Christie Mensch’s associates at Wyandot participate in the Zero Suicide Initiative, thanks to funding from the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City. This program is part of the 2012 National Strategy for Suicide Prevention and works to prevent suicide deaths in people who are being cared for in various health care systems.

This program takes a big-picture, systemic approach to suicide prevention. It understands that practitioners require broader support and education in order to best help their patients. The Zero Suicide Initiative accordingly focuses on fostering leadership, providing training, and continually improving the level of care that practitioners offer.

At Wyandot, this training has helped practitioners. Therapists report feeling as though their efforts matter more and are more valuable to patients. The Zero Suicide Initiative has also highlighted the importance of particular skills, such as refuting harmful cognitive distortions.

New Drug May Help Prevent Depression

 Dr. Brachman pic

Dr. Brachman
Image: fastcompany.com

Dr. Christie Mensch serves as a psychiatrist at Kansas City’s Wyandot Center, where she provides outpatient services to a diverse population. Since assuming this role, Dr. Christie Mensch has treated many patients with clinical depression.

Although clinical depression is treatable, provided the patient has access to the resources of talk therapy and medication, there is no reliable way to prevent depression. However, neuroscientist and entrepreneur Rebecca Brachman has identified a drug that may help increase the brain’s resistance to the kind of stress that can lead to depressive symptoms.

The discovery came when Dr. Brachman and her team were working with laboratory mice that had been given the drug ketamine, which is used to address severe depression. When placed into another study testing resistance to stress, these same mice were immune to the depressive symptoms that researchers expected from animals put through significantly stressful situations. This occurred even though the mice were weeks out of their ketamine regimen.

Dr. Brachman is currently working on translating this discovery into the development of a drug that physicians can use to prevent depression in persons going into stressful situations. While recipients of the drug will not be immune to the stress itself, the drug may enable faster recovery.