The contributions of upbringing and biology to mental illness

This paper explores the symptoms of schizophrenia in my uncle, Joe, and introduces pertinent research regarding the possible biological and cultural influences in his case. After defining his symptoms, I explored biological aspects of schizophrenia in general, as well as noted some pertinent research that may biologically explain the chemical and cognitive aspects of schizophrenia. Although they raised Joe in America for the majority of his life, his parents promoted many Korean values.

The contributions of upbringing and biology to mental illness

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This article has been cited by other articles in PMC. Mental illnesses produce some of the most challenging health problems faced by society, accounting for vast numbers of hospitalizations, disabilities resulting in billions in lost productivity, and sharply elevated risks for suicide.

Scientists have long known that these potentially devastating conditions arise from combinations of genes and environmental factors. Genetic research has produced intriguing biological insights into mental illness, showing that particular gene variations predispose some individuals to conditions such as depression and schizophrenia.

Now, thanks to a growing union of epidemiology and molecular biology, the role of the environment in the etiology of mental illness has become more clear. Fuller Torrey, president of the Treatment Advocacy Center, a nonprofit organization that promotes treatment advances in psychiatry, suggests that mental illnesses increasingly fall into the realm of environmental health.

And from that platform, he says, new treatment advances could soon emerge. Any number of circumstances—for instance, sexual abuse, falling victim to crime, or the breakup of a relationship—can produce psychosocial stress.

But experts assume each of these circumstances triggers more primal reactions, such as feelings of loss or danger, which serve to push victims toward a particular mental state. Several lines of evidence point to an environmental role in psychiatric disease.

Similar findings have been observed with depression and other mental disorders. Scientists have traditionally been challenged in their efforts to link mental illness with underlying causes, in part because the diseases are so amorphous, says Ezra Susser, a psychiatrist and department chair in epidemiology at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.

Unlike cancer or heart disease, which have clearly visible end points, mental disorders yield vague behaviors that vary widely among individuals.

Schizophrenia, for example, is frequently accompanied by depression.

The contributions of upbringing and biology to mental illness

Without being able to link exposures and outcomes more clearly, scientists have heretofore been unable to determine how environmental factors trigger psychiatric conditions, or why.

Specifically, Caspi and Moffitt found that maltreatment could induce antisocial personality disorder in children with a variant MAOA gene, which codes an enzyme that metabolizes neurotransmitters in the brain.

The next year, an article in the 18 July issue of Science showed that young people who go through emotionally stressful situations, such as losing a job or a romantic partner, are more prone to major depression if they inherit a variant form of the serotonin transporter gene, which participates in brain cell communication.

Ironically, millions of people worldwide were already being treated for depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders with drugs that act on serotonin metabolism in a way that scientists still did not fully understand.

That piece of the puzzle came from Daniel Weinberger, a branch chief at the National Institute of Mental Health, who used functional magnetic resonance imaging to demonstrate that individuals with the gene variant also demonstrated hyper-activity in the amygdala, a part of the brain that processes fear.

Weinberger hypothesized that people with the variant are more likely to view the world as menacing. Therefore, he reasoned, the routine stresses of daily life could be amplified to the point of inducing depression. For instance, in the February issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry, Levinson reported on a cluster of genes located on chromosome 15q that he suspects may link to depression by pathways that have nothing to do with serotonin.

In the final analysis, he says, external agents probably interact with a variety of genes, each contributing a fraction to the overall risk. Victor Carrion, an associate professor of psychiatry at Stanford University School of Medicine, suspects that is probably true of post-traumatic stress disorder PTSDa debilitating illness that follows terrifying experiences.

So, that indicates environmental factors can double the prevalence, depending on severity [of the trauma]. Released naturally during stress, cortisol at levels such as those produced during high stress kills neurons, including those in the hippocampus, a structure in the brain that participates in memory and emotion.

Among children who have PTSD, the hippocampus is reduced in size, possibly because of cortisol-induced cell death, Carrion proposes. And that, he adds, offers clues to the biology of PTSD, which sensitizes the brain to produce life-like flashbacks of a traumatic event.

Schizophrenia Of all the environmental contributions to mental illness, few are as mysterious as those in schizophrenia, which produces hallucinations, delusions, and paranoia, and accounts for nearly half the suicides among U. Genetic factors drive much of the risk; those with schizophrenic relatives in their immediate family face a roughly tenfold greater likelihood of developing the disorder themselves.

But environmental threats also play a role.

The road to scientific stardom is often long and arduous, and fame is frequently reserved for those who relish the journey as much as its destination. Iron Jawed Angels -; Create Lesson Plans from Movies and Film Clips, Women's Suffrage; Alice Paul, National Women's Party. Family, twin, and adoption studies have firmly established the roles of both genes and environment in mental disorders. It remains difficult, however, to find genes for these disorders, and to characterize the particular environmental circumstances under which psychopathology emerges.

Some of the most persuasive data linking schizophrenia to environmental factors involve circumstances at birth. Urban birth, for instance, was shown to be linked to schizophrenia as far back as the s by Robert E. Lee Faris and H.

Warren Dunham, in classic studies that found high rates of the disease among children born in inner-city Chicago.

A complex interactive dance

Other environmental risk factors vary widely, and include being born in winter and spring, maternal psychological stress during pregnancy, and obstetric complications. What at least some of these factors might share in common, Brown suggests, are heightened exposures to infectious agents, which may be more common in inner cities or during colder months when the population is more likely to be sick.Of all the environmental contributions to mental illness, few are as mysterious as those in schizophrenia, which produces hallucinations, delusions, and paranoia, and accounts for nearly half the suicides among U.S.

adolescents and young adults. Eric Kandel is the winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine and co-director of the Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Behavior Institute at Columbia University in New York, New York. PROGRAM FOCUS The 29th Santa Fe Conference—Integrating Spirituality, Mindfulness and Compassion in Mental Health and Addictions offers a unique opportunity to join exceptional speakers and trainers in an intensive study and discussion of those impacted by a range of behaviors and mental .

Bipolar disorder is thought to be a neurobiological disorder in a specific part of the brain and is due to a malfunction of certain brain chemicals, including serotonin, dopamine and noradrenaline.

Neglected issues worsen over time, so ‘biological causation of mental illness ’ is a lie which itself causes mental illness. Psychiatry’s tricking people into not using . The road to scientific stardom is often long and arduous, and fame is frequently reserved for those who relish the journey as much as its destination.

Schizophrenia Daily News Blog: Is Schizophrenia Psychological Or Biological?