Tag Archives: genetics

New Hope For Eating Disorders



I’m not a scientist. Heck! I don’t even play one on TV. But I most definitely can attest to the fact that almost all aspects of mental illness can be found to have some genetic component to them. When a child is born with ADHD, we would be hard-pressed to find that there is not some type of mental health issues effecting one or both of the child’s biological parents that attributed to the ADHD in the child.

So, it is no surprise that the more studies that are done with genetics, the more we are finding things like the newest information regarding genetics and eating disorders. We already know that the tendency for eating disorders has been found to run in families, however, we have not been able to identify the specific genes directly related to putting people at greater risks because of their familial connection.

At least not up until now. Two groups of scientists, one from the University of Iowa and the other from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, have been researching two families that have been very negatively impacted by eating disorders, because of two totally different gene mutations.



What makes these finding unique, is that although the two families are not connected and the two gene mutations are totally different, there is interaction in the same signaling pathway in the brain that produce the same effect biologically.

Karen Carpenter

Karen Carpenter

Let me back up for a moment. About one in every thousand women will die from anorexia. With that fact as the stimulus for these scientists, the study which can be found in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, published October 8, 2013, the mutations that decrease activity in a protein in the brain that turns on expression of other genes, increases the risk of eating disorders.

Again, I’m no scientist, but to me this means that when our brains don’t get enough of a certain type of activity due to some type of defect, it causes an increased in the chances of there being eating disorders.

Large families have to be studied in order to get strong statistics to conclusively back up the differences. The genetics have to indicate what people with the disorder have in common that people without the disorder don’t have.

This study permitted researchers to work with two families, one with 20 members from three generations and one with eight members. Half the individuals in the first family were affected by the disorder and six of the eight in the second family were affected. The results led to the identification of two new genes now associated with eating disorders and more research to come that might help lead the way in working with people who suffer with them.

Although the combinations are pretty much endless, when there is a hit; when two genes like these show similar results, it really makes tremendous progress in learning more about and treating the problems.

Now that is productive research!

Judy is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. Judy’s professional experience in the mental health field along with her love of writing, provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. Her fresh voice and down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life are easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!

The Language Of Schizophrenia


Professor Robert Sapolsky finishes his lecture on language and then dives into his discussion about schizophrenia. He discusses environmental factors as well as genetic characteristics that could apply to people who are affected. He describes schizophrenia as a disease of thought disorder and inappropriate emotional attributes. [quoted from the description box beneath the video]

Why Some People Actually Enjoy Having Schizophrenia

Why Some People Actually Enjoy Having Schizophrenia

by Mhs411 of Mental Health Specialist 411

Schizophrenia , literally meaning:  a psychotic disorder characterized by loss of contact with the environment, by noticeable deterioration in the level of functioning in everyday life, and by disintegration of personality expressed as disorder of feeling, thought (as delusions), perception (as hallucinations), and behavior —called also dementia praecox – m-w.comcan be brought on by many factors.

Schizophrenia has a strong hereditary component. Individuals with a first-degree relative (parent or sibling) who has schizophrenia have a 10 percent chance of developing the disorder, as opposed to the 1 percent chance of the general population.

But schizophrenia is only influenced by genetics, not determined by it. While schizophrenia runs in families, about 60% of schizophrenic patients have no family members with the disorder. Furthermore, individuals who are genetically predisposed to schizophrenia don’t always develop the disease, which shows that biology is not destiny.

Twin and adoption studies suggest that inherited genes make a person vulnerable to schizophrenia and then environmental factors act on this vulnerability to trigger the disorder.

As for the environmental factors involved, more and more research is pointing to stress, either during pregnancy or at a later stage of development. High levels of stress are believed to trigger schizophrenia by increasing the body’s production of the hormone cortisol.

Research points to several stress-inducing environmental factors that may be involved in schizophrenia, including:

  • Prenatal exposure to a viral infection
  • Low oxygen levels during birth (from prolonged labor or premature birth)
  • Exposure to a virus during infancy
  • Early parental loss or separation
  • Physical or sexual abuse in childhood

In many cases of Schizophrenia where voices are heard, the afflicted individual often finds comfort in the company of their voices, they have conversations, debates, and can often become friends on many levels. This is why affected patients often stop taking the medications which they are prescribed because they either severely subdue the voices or negate them altogether. Why would someone take a pill that forbids them from being in contact with their best friend(s), companion(s), etc?

Truth be told, the voices that most Schizophrenics hear do not tell them to hurt themselves, or others, but rather maintain a running commentary on “their” perception of the patients world at large, sometimes even discussing things on a blow-by-blow basis.

So why not enjoy being Schizophrenic? Constant companionship, never bored, never alone. Sounds like a great around the clock party! Right? Well sure, unless you have a type of Schizophrenia with voices that DO tell you to hurt either yourself, others, of both? Then, not such a party.

I remember one treatment center at which I was doing a segment of my practicum. I was assigned a woman mid 50′s who was diagnosed with Schizophrenia Paranoid Type. She was my first Schizophrenic patient, and aside from what the text books had taught me, I had no idea what to expect in a “real world” scenario.

The woman, whom we shall call Linda, was certain, beyond any doubt whatsoever that I was her son, and that we had performed in innumerable stage shows together, and began reminiscing about each show, one by one, covering our 30 year stage career together. Truly, it was fascinating, and even though she was of no harm to herself or to others, because she was so far removed from reality, she was court ordered to spend the rest of her life in a psychiatric facility. Still, she was quite happy and enjoyed spending time with her voices! Therefore, in summation, I suppose it depends on many factors as to whether an individual can enjoy having Schizophrenia, or see it as a never-ending nightmare pushing them towards anger, resentment, and potentially even revenge on a moment to moment basis.

Photo:  http://sciencenewstoyou.blogspot.co.il