In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Ask The Doctor
Sincere thanks to Matthew Smith and the Doctors of Northwestern University for answering our first questions of the series! This column will be an on-going feature in our weekly E-News updates. Please feel free to submit your next set of questions and look for answers on an on-going basis! Questions may be submitted to email@example.com.
son is 33 years old; he was diagnosed with the severest from of Bipolar Disorder in 2004. He's been hospitalized 6 times since. Each time upon
discharge, he complies with medications for up to 2 years, until there are a
pile up of negative stressors (bad news from his ex, death of a family member,
too many hours working, not enough sleep, etc).
research that indicates that the reason why persons diagnosed with Bipolar tend to self-medicate with alcohol, illegal drugs, simultaneously taking
themselves off of prescribed medications for their brain disorder; isn't
because of stubbornness, giving up on themselves, or the weight gain associated
with these medications.
it has been suggested that parts of a person's brain has been
impaired or damaged, i.e. amagdala and hippocampus. These areas help
regulate our emotions and good decision-making. Neuroscientists have concluded
that the neurons in these areas of the brain have been impaired. And, new
neurons may not be able to be rejuvenated quickly. What are your thoughts on
is the impairment due to the organic brain disorder, substance abuse, a
combination of both, and make poor decisions as a result? Or, is it that
persons diagnosed with this disorder as a result of neuron impairment make
poor choices and decisions?
son has been off of medication for 8 months, and is now in the penal system.
He is not receiving psychological care or medications. He has been
cycling from mania to extreme mania to psychosis, and has yet entered the
depressive stage. Is it true that even though he's manic; he may very well be
depressed? How long can a person remain in a manic state without further
damage to the brain? Will a person ever come down from a manic state without
medications? And, doesn't a person risk other serious health issues, if they
is my belief, that when a person with this disorder articulates too themselves
or others that they're getting off of medication; that they're not thinking
many therapists, counselors, etc, don't agree, saying it is a conscious
choice. And, the person hasn't hit rock bottom yet. Really?
QUESTION: Is it possible for a 21 year old to have most dementia symptoms without memory loss? My son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 14, rapid cycling bipolar at 17, and had a infarct lunar thalamus stroke at age 19. A year later he began losing his cognitive skills, gets very confused when he tries using his brain, and has many of the symptoms of dementia besides memory loss. Can this be the start of dementia?
ANSWER: I'm sorry to hear about your son's struggles. "Dementia" is a word that indicates the loss of cognitive functioning. The most common cause of dementia is Alzheimer's Disease, which develops in late adulthood and is always associated with memory loss. Strokes can cause cognitive disturbances too, including memory loss, language problems, attention problems, and confusion. Neuropsychological testing can help determine what cognitive changes your son might have, and a neurologist can help with diagnosis and treatment. Since strokes can cause cognitive changes, it would be important to learn what caused the stroke. Best of luck.
ANSWER: There is no established additional risk for individuals with schizophrenia to develop Alzheimer's disease.
ANSWER: Cognitive symptoms are now recognized as critical targets for treatment by researchers, clinicians, the National Institute of Mental Health, and the pharmaceutical industry as we know that cognitive deficits account for much of the disability in schizophrenia. Several initiatives are underway to evaluate the effectiveness of new medications and cognitive training programs on the cognitive deficits experienced by individuals with schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders. These studies are being conducted at research centers across the country, including Northwestern University.
Several studies have established that the cognitive deficit observed in schizophrenia is present at the time of onset of the illness and tends to remain relatively stable over time, including into later life. Further studies that follow elderly patients with schizophrenia over time are needed to establish whether the age related changes in cognition are more pronounced in schizophrenia.
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