Between 1997 and 2006, 38% of out-of-clinic suicides by mental health patients were carried out by people absent without leave from the hospital. Researchers writing in the open access journal BMC Psychiatry suggest that measures to improve the ward environment or prevent patients from leaving psychiatric wards without staff agreement could avoid up to 50 suicide deaths every year. Isabelle Hunt, from the University of Manchester, UK, worked with a team of researchers to investigate suicides in England and Wales over a ten-year period. There were 1, 851 cases of suicide by current psychiatric in-patients, and 70% occurred off the ward. Four hundred and sixty-nine of these patients died after going absent without leave.
A new study suggests that people at very high risk of developing psychotic disorders appear less likely to to do so after taking fish oil for three months. The study was conducted by Dr G Paul Amminger from the Medical University of Vienna in Austria, and the Orygen Youth Health Research Centre in Melbourne, Australia, and colleagues, and is reported in the February issue of the JAMA/Archives journal Archives of General Psychiatry. As Amminger and colleagues mentioned in their background information, although there is a lot of controversy surrounding the use of current antipsychotic medication to try and prevent psychotic disorders, there is evidence that early treatment in schizophrenia and other psychoses has been linked to better outcomes.
The onset of schizophrenia is not easy to predict. Although it is associated with as many as 14 genes in the human genome, the prior presence of schizophrenia in the family is not enough to determine whether one will succumb to the mind-altering condition. The disease also has a significant environmental link. According to Prof. Ina Weiner of Tel Aviv University's Department of Psychology, the developmental disorder, which usually manifests in early adulthood, can be triggered in the womb by an infection. But unlike developmental disorders such as autism, it takes many years for the symptoms of schizophrenia to develop. "Pharmacological treatments for schizophrenia remain unsatisfactory, so clinicians and researchers like myself have started to dig in another direction, " says Prof.
People being treated for schizophrenia are more likely than the general population to have encounters with the criminal justice system in the US. A study published in the open access journal BMC Psychiatry has shown that schizophrenia patients' involvement with the criminal justice system is primarily driven by their being victims of crime and that the average annual per-patient cost of involvement with the criminal justice system was $1429. Haya Ascher-Svanum led a team of researchers from Eli Lilly and Company, USA, who used data from a study of around 600 people with schizophrenia to estimate the prevalence and cost of involvement with the criminal justice system.
A new study from UC Davis Health System identifies for the first time a brain protein called SynDIG1 that plays a critical role in creating and sustaining synapses, the complex chemical signaling system responsible for communication between neurons. The research, published in the Jan.14 issue of the journal Neuron, fills a major gap in understanding the molecular foundations of higher cognitive abilities as well as some brain disorders. "We know that synapses are essential for learning, memory and perception and suspect that imbalances in synapse formation impact disorders of the brain such as autism and schizophrenia, " said Elva Diaz, assistant professor of pharmacology and senior author of the study.
Years before adults develop schizophrenia, there is a pattern of cognitive difficulties they experience as children, including problems with verbal reasoning, working memory, attention and processing speed. Drawing on a long-term study of more than 1, 000 New Zealanders born from 1972 to 1973, a team led by Duke researchers has found a consistent pattern of developmental difficulties that first appeared when adult study subjects with schizophrenia were 7 years old. "The proportion of kids who don't score well on these tests is big, and the number of kids who develop schizophrenia is tiny, " said study co-author Terrie E. Moffitt, the Knut Schmidt Nielsen professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke.