Psychogenic Dystonia Differs From Organic Disease

Patients with psychogenic dystonia have abnormal brain activity patterns that are significantly different from their counterparts with organic dystonia, a new imaging study suggests.

Unexpectedly, both psychogenic and organic dystonia patients have abnormal activity in the prefrontal cortex, refuting the widely held hypothesis that prefrontal abnormalities are strictly a marker of psychogenic disorders.

“We hope that the results of this study will lead not only to better understanding of [psychogenic] disorders but ultimately also pave the way for new treatment approaches for this poorly understood and difficult to manage problem,” Anette Schrag, PhD, University College London Institute of Neurology, in the United Kingdom, told Medscape Medical News.

Finding abnormalities of brain function that are different from those in organic dystonia “opens up a way for researchers to learn how psychological factors can, by changing brain function, lead to physical problems,” Dr. Schrag added in a statement.

by Megan Brooks, Medscape

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Congratulations Dr. Fred Frese!

Dr. Fredrick Frese

National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare’s Awards of Excellence–2nd Place

Lilly Reintegration Award for Advocacy

Frederick J. Frese, Ph.D. is a psychologist who has specialized in the area of schizophrenia for over forty years. Diagnosed with the condition when he was 25, he has worked tirelessly as a practitioner and advocate for consumers and their families. Dr. Mike Hogan, Chair of the President’s New Freedom Commission that is revolutionizing the delivery of mental health services in the United States, has called Fred “a national treasure.” A prolific writer and outstanding speaker, revered both for his sense of humor and his remarkable ability to translate research and public policy into usable information, Dr. Frese is often quoted — and sometimes misquoted.

Dr. Frese will, again, amaze SARDAA conference attendees with his Keynote address on October 26, 2013 in Houston, TX

What is a Lilly Reintegration Award?

“Since 1996, Lilly has partnered with the Center for Reintegration to present Lilly Reintegration Awards and Scholarships. The goal of these programs is to recognize mental health professionals, family and friends of individuals with mental illness, and individual patients for their exceptional contributions and achievements in helping those battling serious mental illness.” Learn More

Dietary Supplements May Improve Schizophrenia Symptoms

Supplementing antipsychotic medication with folate plus vitamin B12 as an adjunctive treatment can improve negative symptoms of schizophrenia, a new study shows.

However, the randomized clinical trial also suggests that the level of treatment response is more significant in individuals with specific gene variants involved in folate metabolism.

“Our finding that folate plus vitamin B12 supplementation can improve negative symptoms opens a new potential avenue for treatment of schizophrenia. Because treatment effects differed based on which genetic variants were present in each participant, the results also support a personalized medical approach to treating schizophrenia,” study investigator Joshua Roffman, MD, said in a release.

By Caroline Cassels, Medscape

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Five Major Psychiatric Disorders Genetically Linked

In the largest genetic study of psychiatric illness to date, scientists have discovered genetic links between 5 major psychiatric disorders.

Investigators from the Cross-Disorder Group of the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium have found that autism spectrum disorder (ASD), attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder (BD), major depressive disorder (MDD), and schizophrenia share common genetic risk factors.

Specifically, the results of the genome-wide association study (GWAS) reveal single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 2 genes — CACNA1C and CACNB2 — both of which are involved in the balance of calcium in brain cells, are implicated in several of these disorders, and could provide a potential target for new treatments.

“This analysis provides the first genome-wide evidence that individual and aggregate molecular genetic risk factors are shared between 5 childhood-onset or adult-onset psychiatric disorders that are treated as distinct categories in clinical practice,” study investigator Jordan Smoller, MD, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, said in a release.

by Caroline Cassels, Medscape

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Charles Feldman Recovery Story

My name is Charles Feldman. I am 60 years old and I am in recovery, living with paranoid schizophrenia. I was in a songwriting group once at my mental health center, where I wrote songs viewing mental illness from a topical point of view. Years later, I was looking at the lyrics of one of my old songs, where I wrote: “I do not live, but merely exist.” Things have changed for me so much that I found it hard to believe that I ever felt that way. I still get anxious and depressed at times, but I now feel that these are part of normal life, and that the important thing is my spiritual search, along with my advocacy work and my relationships with family and friends. That, I feel, is recovery.

Growing up, my main concern was that I felt that I did not know what to say to people, socially. In high school, I would read anyone who was countercultural, like R.D. Laing who thought there was personal growth through schizophrenia. I now joke that I am one of the few people who chose to develop schizophrenia.

One day in a college encounter group course, the leader gave us an exercise to do. He said we should all give ourselves a piece of advice. The advice I gave myself was: “Don’t blow it.” Later that evening, I went to a lecture, and the speaker said at one point: “Don’t blow it.” I thought he said that because of what I had said earlier in the day, which I thought he somehow knew about.

From that point on, I started feeling that people I met, and even people walking by me, were saying things and making gestures referring to me, that had hidden messages. I withdrew from school. When I got back home, my psychologist asked to see me. I saw him, and this psychologist, who had told me there was no such thing as mental illness, told me he was putting me in the hospital. I thought the hospital might be a place where I could get some understanding, so I agreed to go. Once there, I thought all the other patients were agents implanted to make it look like it was a hospital. I watched TV for the first time in a long time, and I thought even the newscasters were talking to and about me.

After a few days, I saw a psychiatrist. I told him what I had been told, that there was no such thing as mental illness. He raised his voice back at me and said: “There is such a thing, I’ve seen it!” From that point on I felt he was part of the conspiracy against me.

Six years later, my parents found me an apartment, telling the landlord that I was a writer and that I was just moving into town. I still didn’t realize that my new medication was working. I told my new nurse that I didn’t want to keep taking it. She went and got my new psychiatrist who asked me how things had been going for me in the past few years. When I told him that things had not been too good, he suggested I try the medication. So I did. I started going to a day program, and going to a therapy group. I noticed that when people would get angry one social worker, she would not get angry back at them, but would respond with empathy. I had never experienced this before. I went on to do mental health advocacy both at work and volunteering. A few years ago, I found a spiritual home. I have learned to meditate, which I couldn’t do before. This has given me something that therapy, day program trips, the consumer movement, and other advocacy, could not give me. It has given me some peace of mind and purpose in life.

I now work doing mental health advocacy and support at a drop-in center.  I can see people daily on the road to recovery. They feel that peer support has made a great difference in their lives. Being able to talk with their peers, and be open about their mental illness, gives them a freedom that they say they never had before. My peers and I credit things like medication, work or volunteer work, peer support and a place to socialize, spirituality, and finding or having a place to call home as the grounds of our recovery.

Mentally Ill at Significant Risk of Becoming Murder Victims

Individuals with mental illness are at significantly increased risk of being murdered, new research shows.

A nationwide cohort study in Sweden showed that those with any mental disorder had a 5-fold increased risk of dying by homicide compared with their counterparts without mental illness.

“In this large cohort study, people with mental disorders had highly increased risks of homicidal death, irrespective of sex, age, or other sociodemographic characteristics. Although the risk of homicidal death was highest among those with substance use disorders, it was also increased among those with personality disorders, depression, anxiety disorders, or schizophrenia and did not seem to be explained by comorbid substance use,” the investigators, led by Casey Crump, MD, PhD, Stanford University in California, write.

“People with mental disorders may be at increased risk of homicidal death for several reasons, including a high prevalence of comorbid substance use, which is associated with violence. Irrespective of substance use, they are also more likely to live in high deprivation areas, which have higher homicide rates, be in closer contact with other mentally ill people, be less aware of their safety needs, or potentially be victimized because of perceptions that they are dangerous or vulnerable,” the authors write.

by Caroline Cassels, Medscape

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NIMH Brain Awareness Week Quick Links

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Quick Links: Mental Health & the Brain

National Institute of Mental Health sent this bulletin at 03/12/2013 06:14 PM EDT

 It’s Brain Awareness Week!  Find the latest NIMH resources and research about the brain below.

New You Can Use

Helpful Resources

NIMH Research

Help transform the understanding and treatment of mental illness through research. Consider participation in one of these studies. 


Kalene DeHaut, MSW (c)  

Office of the Clinical Director | DIRP

t: 301-594-3188 | e:


Brain Awareness Week post by Margery Wakefield



By Margery Wakefield


My eyes are different from your eyes.  No problem.

I weigh more than you do.  No problem.

You are taller than I am.  No problem.

My brain is different from your brain.  BIG problem, especially if I happen to have schizophrenia, which I do.  Because I am schizophrenic, I can be fired from my job, thought of as a deranged killer, called names like “nuts,” “psycho,” “fruitcake,” “wacko,” “crazy,” “weirdo,” loony,”  and many others.  So, I learn to keep it all a BIG SECRET.

I first knew that something was wrong when I was about seven years old.  I was at a summer picnic at my grandparents’ house and I suddenly knew that I was different from the other kids.  They were all playing and I didn’t feel like playing.  Something was wrong and I called it the “shadow.”

The shadow followed me throughout grade school and high school.  Some of my teachers sensed that something was wrong with me.  I seemed troubled, depressed.  But since we lived in an isolated part of the country, there were no mental health services, especially for kids, and teachers were not trained to look out for this kind of thing.  My friend Sharon W. was always getting beat up at home and coming to school covered with bruises, but that wasn’t caught either.  We were silent victims.

Nowadays, things are better for children.  Teachers, and the community in general, are trained to be aware of differences, of abuse.  But some children still fall through the cracks, unfortunately.  The results are the shooting tragedies which have happened recently in so many places by young people with untreated mental illnesses.  They give all of us schizophrenics a bad name.  99.9% of schizophrenics would probably hurt themselves rather than another person.  But there is the .1%, and they make the headlines and become the media stereotype.

In 1966, the shadow was finally given a name – schizophrenia.  I had a particularly brutal and painful nervous breakdown when I was eighteen years old.  The word schizophrenia didn’t terrify me.  I was just happy that the shadow finally had a name.  If it had a name, then something could be done about it, I reasoned.

It took me 16 years to make it through college, but I finally did.  I took some detours along the way.  I was hospitalized more than 55 times for my unbearable anxiety and psychosis.  But then, a strange thing happened, I started getting better.  I finished my degree and went on to get a master’s degree in social work.  I decided that I would thrive in spite of the odds.

Today, I live a quite normal and happy life.  I work part time in the community.  I also work part time for SARDAA, the organization which oversees matters relating to schizophrenia and related disorders and organizes the Schizophrenics Anonymous groups springing up all over the country.  I am proud to be a part of SARDAA.

I take my meds – faithfully.  I have my own apartment.  I drive my own car – a ten-year-old Subaru Forester.  I teach piano.  I have written six books.  They’re not bestsellers – yet – but they do make a statement.  I travel in the US and abroad whenever I can.  I have been a co-leader of the SA group in Denver, Colorado for eight years.

If you met me on the street, you probably wouldn’t know that I was any different from yourself.  But I am.  My brain is wired just a bit differently.  I have an over or under-abundance of certain neurotransmitters which cause my illness.  That’s about all there is to it.

Don’t feel sorry for me because I have schizophrenia.  It has been a challenge for me, but it has also been a blessing in a way.  It has left me a more compassionate person.   And for that I am grateful.



From Clinical Trial to Publication Takes Close to 2 Years

Median time from completion of a clinical trial to publication of results in a peer-reviewed journal is 21 months, according to a study published online March 4 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Past studies have shown that 50% to 75% of clinical trial results are published in peer-reviewed biomedical journals, most within 2 to 2.5 years.

The researchers conclude that the small differences among trial types indicate that “timely dissemination of research needs to be uniformly prioritized to enhance science.” They support current federal initiatives requiring reporting results within a year of completion of a clinical trial. However, the investigators point out how much must be accomplished during that year, including compiling data, performing statistical analysis, writing, preparing figures, and allowing time for peer review.

by Ricki Lewis, Ph.D., Medscape

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Congratulations Dr. Fred Frese

Congratulations Dr. Fred Frese National Council for

Community Behavioral Healthcare’s Awards of Excellence 2nd Place

Lilly Reintegration Award for Advocacy.

Frederick J. Frese, Ph.D. is a psychologist who has specialized in the area of schizophrenia for over forty years. Diagnosed with the condition when he was 25, he has worked tirelessly as a practitioner and advocate for consumers and their families. Dr. Mike Hogan, Chair of the President’s New Freedom Commission that is revolutionizing the delivery of mental health services in the United States, has called Fred “a national treasure.” A prolific writer and outstanding speaker, revered both for his sense of humor and his remarkable ability to translate research and public policy into usable information, Dr. Frese is often quoted — and sometimes misquoted.

Dr. Frese will, again, amaze SARDAA conference attendees with his Keynote address on October 26, 2013 in Houston, TX