Monthly Archives: April 2016

Air pollution in China.

Air pollution is the contamination of the atmosphere by gaseous, liquid, or solid substances that can endanger the health and welfare of humans or other living things or can attack materials, reduce visibility, or produce undesirable odors caused by the release of toxic or damaging particles and gases into the atmosphere. Carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, … Continue reading Air pollution in China.

Latest Research on Schizophrenia


Schizophrenia is a mental illness that effects almost 24 million people throughout the world. It is not possible to diagnose this illness with a test, instead one must go through a mental evaluation. Patients diagnosed with schizophrenia are usually prescribed anti-psychotics and therapies. These medications are often ineffective causing constant development of new drug therapies. Many are also trying to find the cause of this illness.

Schizophrenic patients are found to have lesser amounts of a protein called beclin-1. This protein is found in the part of the brain that retains memory and learning. Autophagy, clearing of unimportant cell components, is made possible by these proteins. If autophagy is not successful brain cells can die. Scientists are continuing research to find a drug with increased levels of beclin-1 to restore balance in the brain.

Researchers are looking into the possibility of a blood test to diagnose schizophrenia. A gene called the major histocompatability complex (MHC) is a DNA chunk that carries information to identify invaders. This gene is part of a protein that snips connections in nerves. Geneticist Steven McCarroll from Harvard University and the Broad Institute has looked at genetic material of 60,000 people with and without schizophrenia. McCarroll has found that different types of a gene in MHC elevates the risk of schizophrenia.

Schizophrenia has effected many people all over the world. The possibility of finding a test for this illness would help millions by using these instead of a psychoanalysis. Also, improved drug therapies could assist those suffering from this illness. Pinpointing a gene causing schizophrenia could assist in diagnosis, treatment, and eventually prevention.

Do you think that it is possible to cure schizophrenia with this evidence?

Will someone find a test for schizophrenia?

Are we closer to finding a more effective drug treatment?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Close your eyes. Take a deep breath, hold it for six seconds. Let it out slowly. And again deep breath, hold for six seconds, and out. Every once in a while we need to take the time to just breathe. Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy both teach us to take a step back from the situation and look at what it causing us to feel a certain way. I personally wanted to take a look at how we got this form of therapy and its effect on adolescents. For me this was about more than just looking at something different and interesting, but about looking at something that could help me. I have depression and anxiety and if I can find a way to deal with it that works best for me then I’m willing to try. So I looked at the basis of cognitive therapy and some studies to find out what the results were.

Cognitive behavioral therapy has two key scholars Albert Ellis and David Burns. “Ellis proposed an ‘ABC’ model of cognitive behavioral disturbance” and in this model “the letter ‘A’ stands for an activating event, ‘B’ refers to a belief system, and ‘C’ stands for the consequences of A through B”. Ellis theorized that “moods of individuals [or C’s]” could be changed by “a change in how activating events are perceived”. For Burns “the key element [was]…the human tendency to overgeneralize”. Burns formulated Ten Basic Cognitive Distortions, giving a term and a definition. Both Ellis and Burns are considered to be founders of CBT, cognitive behavioral therapy.

For depression and anxiety there are many forms of treatment. “70-80% of patients [however] are not willing to take [antidepressant medication] for a long period of time”. Major depressive disorder is experienced by a large majority of people “and the probability of another episode increases with each relapse or recurrence”. A study done by Catherine S. Ames, Jessica Richardson, Susanna Payne, Patrick Smith & Eleanor Leigh published in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Journal states that “MBCT [mindfulness-based cognitive therapy] is proposed to reduce risk in part through increasing awareness of the ruminative cycles and thinking styles associated with relapse vulnerability”. The results of this study showed that “eleven young people met inclusion criteria…seven completed the course” and due to the small size of the participation group, “analysis of outcome measures [are] limited”. However, “this study has indicated that MBCT with adolescents, targeted at symptoms of low mood, is feasible”.

Overall this form of therapy has progressed farther in recent years than Burns and Ellis’ models and become an actual practice. Taking deep breathes and counting to ten are our usual ways to calm our emotions and now science has started formulating ways for it to be used in treatment of mental illnesses.

Could it be used to treat more than anxiety and depression?
-What can we do to make this treatment more effective?
-Should the basis of it be taught to kids early on to try and prevent depression and anxiety later in life?