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Fighting the Stigma of Mental Illness

The fierce stigma associated with mental illness prevents many people from seeking diagnosis and treatment. Learn what is being done and how you can help.

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Introduction

Psychiatric disorders, including depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder, affect millions of people around the world. Without intervention, they can have devastating effects and interfere with daily life. Decades of research led to a variety of therapeutic options for people with psychiatric disorders, but how well they work varies greatly from person to person. Researchers in neuroscience and related disciplines are studying genes and brain areas affected by psychiatric disorders in animals and humans in an effort to develop better therapies alongside more traditional treatments. Recent studies are helping scientists identify factors that increase the risk of developing a psychiatric disorder, including a person’s genetic makeup and exposure to early life stress or brain trauma. Researchers are also finding structural differences in brains of people with some psychiatric disorders. Scientists hope this information will create new paths to treatments that offer faster relief with fewer side effects, and diagnostic tests that identify psychiatric disorders earlier.

Discoveries

Does Depression Change the Way People Perceive the World?

Source: Dana Foundation
A series of recent studies now offers preliminary evidence that depression may, indeed, alter aspects of perception.

Understanding Mental Disorders as Circuit Disorders

Source: Dana Foundation
Tom Insel, M.D., National Institute of Mental Health, on an alternate way to look at mental disorders.

Depression: Making a Difference Tomorrow

Source: Society for Neuroscience
Even though many cases of depression respond well to treatment, not everyone seeks medical help. A recent study found only half of Americans with depression receive any treatment.

Psychiatric Disorders in the News

How Your Season of Birth Is Etched in Your Brain

Source: WIRED
Date: 6 March 2014
A neuroscientist at Columbia University Medical Center has studied links between season of birth and brain structure in healthy adults.

Fluorescent Injections Used to Create Comprehensive Map of Mouse Brain

Source: Scientific American
Date: 27 Feb 2014
The detailed map could be used to help scientists understand the basis of neurological or psychiatric disorders in humans.

Freud’s Hysteria Theory Backed by Patients’ Brain Scans

Source: Bloomberg News
Date: 17 Feb 2014
Scientists have found, using brain scans, that psychological stress may be to blame for unexplained physical symptoms, including paralysis and seizures.