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Secrets of Schizophrenia and Depression "Unlocked" 334

Oracle Goddess writes "According to the US National Institute for Mental Health in Bethesda, Maryland, scientists have discovered a remarkable similarity between the genetic faults behind both schizophrenia and manic depression in a breakthrough that is expected to open the way to new treatments for two of the most common mental illnesses, affecting millions of people. Previously schizophrenia and depression were assumed to be two separate conditions, but the new research shows for the first time that both have a common genetic basis that leads people to develop one or the other of the two illnesses."
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Secrets of Schizophrenia and Depression "Unlocked"

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  • Thanks (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    i'd like to thank Steve Ballmer for making himself available for this important breakthrough.

  • by BadAnalogyGuy ( 945258 ) <> on Thursday July 02, 2009 @11:29AM (#28558243)

    No it isn't, you moron. These people are lying. They're all lying.

  • by jayme0227 ( 1558821 ) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @11:31AM (#28558271) Journal

    But we're all better now.

    I know, I know, that's dissociative identity disorder, but you still laughed. Maybe.

  • by RobotRunAmok ( 595286 ) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @11:31AM (#28558273)

    It's an Orientation.

    Get with the program.

  • Downside (Score:5, Funny)

    by Ukab the Great ( 87152 ) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @11:33AM (#28558301)

    This could be very bad for the tin foil hat industry.

    • Why oh why do I read /. at work? Bursting out laughing in the middle of the cube farm can cause much staring... But either way, if this is real, this could be a boon for many. Especially the young that face this and are being assaulted by their own hormones...
    • If you are truly paranoid though, you extract your own tin and make it into foil then fold the foil into hats. Its the only way to be sure.
      • How do you know the government didn't put fake tin into the ground? They do that, you know.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by camperdave ( 969942 )
          No. It's real tin. They WANT you to put on tinfoil hats. That's because they've got UNDERGROUND SENSORS and the tinfoil hat makes a PERFECT PARABOLIC DISH that focuses on the brain. NEVER step on those grates in the sidewalk.
    • On the contrary, now you'll be able to purchase tinfoil hats that also play cheerful music.
  • "Achievement unlocked: Secrets of Schizophrenia and Depression!"
  • by geekoid ( 135745 ) <> on Thursday July 02, 2009 @11:35AM (#28558325) Homepage Journal

    More articles like this one, please.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 02, 2009 @11:36AM (#28558335)

    ... it is not the 'depression' you may be lead to believe.

    • Ha! We are immune to your Jedi mind tricks! Now move along, since these aren't the droids we're looking for.
  • Clarification (Score:3, Informative)

    by Peregr1n ( 904456 ) <> on Thursday July 02, 2009 @11:36AM (#28558343) Homepage
    That would be CLINICAL depression. As in, the type caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain; as opposed to the type caused by your wife leaving you.
    • by $RANDOMLUSER ( 804576 ) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @11:49AM (#28558547)
      No, that would be elation.
      • by mcgrew ( 92797 )

        I was at Felber's the other night, and some fat drunk said "My doctor told me I needed to lose 200 pounds, but the bitch won't leave!"

      • Only until you see the divorce settlement. And definitely not after you've worked out what class of hooker you could have used for the same amount the divorce cost you (the Paul McCartney formula).

        • by hab136 ( 30884 )

          Only until you see the divorce settlement. And definitely not after you've worked out what class of hooker you could have used for the same amount the divorce cost you (the Paul McCartney formula).

          Q: Why is divorce so expensive?


          A: Because it's worth it!

    • Re:Clarification (Score:5, Informative)

      by russotto ( 537200 ) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @12:04PM (#28558771) Journal

      That would be CLINICAL depression. As in, the type caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain; as opposed to the type caused by your wife leaving you.

      Despite the drug company propaganda, there's no objective test to distinguish the two. In general the levels of neurotransmitters in a patient's brain aren't measured anyway... and even if they were, there's no available way to tell if the levels were what they were because of some physical issue, or if they're that way because your wife left you.

      However, TFA is talking about bipolar disorder, which is not the same as clinical depression.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by mcgrew ( 92797 )

      The type cause by your wife leaving you is called "adjustment disorder with depressed mood", and they'll prescribe the same drugs as they prescribe for depression (SSRIs like Paxil and Zoloft).

      • In other words, it's called "bullshit" or the lesser-known name, "a good way for us to make money selling our drugs to people who don't need them, with no concern for their long-term well-being".
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by mcgrew ( 92797 )

          That's entirely correct, at least in my case. I'd have been far better off riding out the pain than taking the Paxil. The worst part was, they took me off Paxil right as I and my then-teenaged daughter were moving out of my foreclosed home into a tiny apartment. "My ROOM was bigger than this apartment," she wailed.

          The thought of what it would do to my kids and especially my parents if I killed myself is the only thing that kept me alive. Suicidal thoughts are one of the withdrawal effects of Paxil.

    • No, that would be *bipolar disorder* which is not the same thing as *clinical depression.*

      Major depressive disorder (clinical depression) can also be triggered by a grief incident.
    • Re:Clarification (Score:4, Informative)

      by Hurricane78 ( 562437 ) <<deleted> <at> <>> on Thursday July 02, 2009 @12:45PM (#28559443)

      Exactly. Especially in times, where people prefer to take meds, instead of healing their problems, it should always be made very clear, that there is a huge difference between genetic disorders, and environment-based disorders. And that there also is a huge difference between intoxication (bad food, toxic waste, polluted nature, etc) and purely psychological influences (evil people, mind-boggling events, wars, extreme mobbing, and especially bad parents).

      Because the last one can't be cured by and medicine at all! At least not in your lifetime.
      It can only be partially overlayed, and numbed down, having more bad than good effects.
      That kind has to be treated with a proper psychotherapy. With the help of someone, who does not fear to take you at the hand and help you go to the deepest and darkest place in your soul, to face it. Luckily this has a very good chance of really healing you.

      But the genetic kind of course can only be treated with meds.

      It is very important to make this distinction, for sure.

  • "Depression" of "manic depression"(aka bipolar disorder)? These are two very different things.
    • Re:So what is it? (Score:5, Informative)

      by mcgrew ( 92797 ) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @11:46AM (#28558501) Homepage Journal

      Indeed, the disease is no longer called "manic depression". It's "bipolar disorder" now. And BTW, schitzophrenia is not multiple personalities, that one is called "disassociative identity disorder". Schitzophrenics experience delusions, like changing their memories of a movie or TV show into memories of their own life experience; or hallucinations, like hearing voices in their heads telling them what a terrible person they are.

      Depression is a completely different disease and often leads to suicide and usually leads to drug or alcohol abuse, although the metal health industry usually blames the substance abuse for the depression that started before the substance abuse did.

      You meet a lot of crazy people in bars. One guy I saw in a bar said "I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy".

      • by Itninja ( 937614 )

        schitzophrenia [sic] is not multiple personalities, that one is called "disassociative identity disorder"

        Yeah but hillbillies want to be called 'Sons of the Soil', but it's never going to happen....

        You meet a lot of crazy people in bars. One guy I saw in a bar said "I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy".

        That was kind of a non-sequiter. Was this person Dorothy Parker? Because she's the one who said that originally...

        • Re:So what is it? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Lemming Mark ( 849014 ) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @12:42PM (#28559375) Homepage

          schitzophrenia [sic] is not multiple personalities, that one is called "disassociative identity disorder"

          Yeah but hillbillies want to be called 'Sons of the Soil', but it's never going to happen....

          I'm not sure where you're going with that one... Sure, in general usage a language is defined by the whims of the people who speak it. But when it's technical jargon - in this case medical jargon - the technical definition, as opposed to "what everyone calls it" is rather important! I've had friends who call a CRT monitor "the computer", yet my CRT is still unable to function without the part that the geeks refer to as "the computer". Sometimes the commonly used phrase can be technically wrong and therefore misleading, despite the fact that it's popular.

          There's also a wider point at stake here: in general, we reserve the right to change the generally accepted meaning of words in the English language (presumably ditto for most other living languages) according to what most people understand them to mean. This typically does not happen in the same way within technical disciplines; physicists draw a distinction between "speed" and "velocity" and show no signs of changing. Usually what terms the techies appropriate to mean something very specific does not affect the rest of us - there's not much point in me labouring the distinction between monitor and computer with my friends, since the misunderstanding doesn't really hurt anyone. This is not the case for medical terminology, where the name of the disease tends to become a label for the sufferers in discussion, as well as a convenient way for a sufferer to explain their condition to an interested third party. The names of diseases have specific technical meanings to a Doctor but are often also used in everyday conversation between people explaining their health situation.

          Doctors aren't going to alter the names of diseases just because common usage often confuses a couple of them - it's technical jargon and there's no sense creating confusion in the medical community by changing that around. So it's up to the rest of us: do we want to stick the wrong label on an ill person because it's a generally accepted misunderstanding, or do we attempt to clarify the differences between disorders, knowing that a greater understanding and better use of the terminology is the only way the confusion will ever be resolved.

          I'm sticking with the latter approach since it raises public awareness of important issues, even though I know there will always be people who remain confused about the distinction.

  • by grub ( 11606 ) <> on Thursday July 02, 2009 @11:37AM (#28558367) Homepage Journal

    When I on lithium (~15 years ago) I found my creative spark had gone. Sure, the window of emotion had narrowed considerably, but the super-fast mental edge was lost. That made me even more depressed when the time came. Spoke with my doc, dropped all the meds (but can get lithium if I become Superman again)

    If you can harness it, manic depression is wonderful thing.

    Posted non-anonymously because it's not embarrassing or a big stigma.
    • by neowolf ( 173735 )

      This is interesting to hears, thanks. :)

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Xaedalus ( 1192463 )
      Kudos to you for posting w/ your name. I agree, IF you can harness it then yes, it can be a wonderful thing. The sticky point is being able to harness it.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by grub ( 11606 )

        The sticky point is being able to harness it.

        Yep, that's the kicker.

        When I spoke with the doc I told her my concerns. Things/answers/analysis/even jokes which would have come to me in a flash actually took mental work. Maybe it's parallel to how Alzheimer's patients start to feel, hope I never know.

        In any case, the high end isn't usually the problem, it's the bottoming out that comes. I take reasonable care of myself and overall it's worked out well. Hey, I've just had the past 15 years virtually med
        • Strangely enough I have just recently weaned myself off prozac after a six year period, and I too have got my emotional breadth and creative mojo back again. I'm sure it helped at the time I started but I feel a lot more like myself again now. For instance listening to certain music puts shivers down my spine again, whereas it had stopped affecting me like that for a long time.
          • by BadAnalogyGuy ( 945258 ) <> on Thursday July 02, 2009 @12:02PM (#28558745)

            Not to be glib, but couldn't it just be part of the disease to feel that the medicated state is unnatural? Whereas you feel muted when on the medicine, it is actually the way most people feel all the time?

            • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

              by ae1294 ( 1547521 )

              it is actually the way most people feel all the time?

              and he should really care how "normal" people fell why????

              fuck normal... give me bat shit crazy and totally happy any day....

            • by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @12:50PM (#28559547) Homepage

              Not to be glib, but couldn't it just be part of the disease to feel that the medicated state is unnatural? Whereas you feel muted when on the medicine, it is actually the way most people feel all the time?

              Well, the medicated state is unnatural. And there are certainly people who feel 'muted' much of the time and the tolerance to mood swings is quite varied among folks. Lots of bipolar patients like the "up" when the can handle it. Everybody seems to hate the down part and it can be rough to cycle up and down quite a bit. The differences between monopolar (clincal, classical, typical depression) and bipolar disease aren't all that great and there is no strict line between "normal" and a "disease" state. Sometimes it's really obvious and much of the time it isn't.

              IMHO (and IAAMD) the term "antidepressant" is a big misnomer. They are really mood stabilizers, ala lithium. They do flatten both the ups and downs and they do interfere with creative energy and ability. If you look at the personal lives of many creative people, both in the sciences and arts and in fact in much of the religious sphere, you can discern clear DSM-IV diagnoses. They are 'mentally ill' by our current definitions. And if you look at their often short lived, self destructive lifestyles it's easy to believe that.

              There currently is no such thing as a free lunch when it comes to neuropsychiatric drugs - they're really more like hand grenades then rifle bullets. They hit the target, but often cause collateral damage. Whether and how much and what you should take is often a long term, complicated dance between the patient, the physician and occasionally the courts.

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by tbuskey ( 135499 )

                Well, the medicated state is unnatural.

                I can agree with you there.

                IMHO (and IAAMD) the term "antidepressant" is a big misnomer. They are really mood stabilizers, ala lithium. They do flatten both the ups and downs and they do interfere with creative energy and ability.

                I've been suffering from clinical depression for over 10 years. I've tried a number of different medications due to side effects and the meds no longer working. Now this is for depression, not bipolar so I might be way off from what you're talking about.

                I mainly experience the meds making it possible to be happy. With the depression, it just doesn't seem possible. But I haven't had problems with my creative energy or ability while on the meds.

                Without the meds, I have no creati

    • by Itninja ( 937614 )
      I can see how the mania would be potentially useful for harnessed. But the depression too? So when one wants to hang themselves in the garage or just stay in bad for days, how is that 'awesome'? Are you in a mania right now?
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by grub ( 11606 )

        Are you in a mania right now?

        Nope. Remember that different people have different 'windows'. When the bottoming out came it was pretty shitty, slept all the time, would bawl my eyes out for no reason, etc. But I wasn't seriously suicidal.

        The past many years have had a few odd low ends but nothing as drastic as when I was in my late 20's. Part of the problem with the low end was self-medicating with booze or non-pharm drugs. Nowadays if I feel even remotely bummed out I won't touch a drop of booze, it may
    • Hell yeah! I was on a regimen of Sam-E in college. It put me into a hypomanic state. It was the best time of my life! I was sleeping 6 hours a night, full of energy, and wanted nothing more than to fuck all the college girls I saw. Very different from my usual bored apathetic state :D

    • by grub (11606)

      Posted non-anonymously because it's not embarrassing or a big stigma.

      I applaud your courage, but I find it humorous that you feel you are posting non-anonymously when using an anonymous pseudonym.

      I know there's a lot of truth to the fact that our online personas, in the context of online interactions, are an analogue to our meatspace personas, and we have a sense of identity with them that is really not much different (if it differs at all) from our meatspace identities.

      But it still makes m

    • The only thing I harnessed with my highs was fist fighting and acting like a tool and the only thing I harnessed from my lows is excessive sleep and suicidal tendencies.

      Apparently it's a YMMV thing.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I envy you then.

      While mania makes me a lot more productive, since I don't sleep but 2-3 hours a night for a few weeks, it's not really worth it. My mind starts going so fast, I get dysphasic and develop a stutter, become even more ornery than I normally am because they're interrupting my brilliant works (even something as trivial as tweaking my mythbox's remote settings), and spend way too much money.

      But nothing is as bad as the mixed episodes... Being depressed enough to off oneself at the same time as bei

  • by david_thornley ( 598059 ) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @11:38AM (#28558371)

    The summary seems to confuse being depressive with being bipolar (i.e., manic-depressive). Clinical depression is a common problem, and is generally treatable to some extent with drug and cognitive therapy. Last I checked, bipolar was much less common and a lot less treatable.

    So, it isn't going to lead to new treatments for two common problems. It may well lead to new treatments for two problems, one of which is distinctly less common. Those who are clinically depressed but not bipolar may well not benefit at all.

  • With three comments, this article has already been tagged with "nutjobs".

    Grow up. Chances are you know someone who has (or will develop) one of these conditions to some degree, even if you don't know it (which is likely if you are that much of a jackass, they probably wouldn't tell you).

    I don't normally do angry rants, but sometimes I'm surprised by the juvenile and compassionless attitudes of some people on /.

  • Important findings (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Cluster2k1 ( 1334687 )
    Anything that sheds new light onto Schizophrenia and related disorders is very welcome. It's heart breaking to watch someone close to you go through Schizophrenia symptoms. It's not the funny Hollywood version of split personalities. People suffering the disorder believe they are incredibly important (on a world scale), that they're on a special mission, they're related to Jesus, that others are coming to commit harm. Most of all, they can't tell you who sent them on the 'mission' or why. They sometime
  • by bogaboga ( 793279 ) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @11:48AM (#28558531)

    In order to treat these conditions, ECT [] is the tool of choice these days. It has its own detractors (me inclusive) for I do not see how inducing a seizure helps an individual.

    Worst of all you could lose all your memory. There was a story of a lady who did not remember anything about her clothes and wondered who had put "foreign" clothes in her closet. In another case, a former doctor could not remember who the hell he was after the procedure. Scary indeed.

    • by DocJohn ( 81319 )

      ECT is not the "tool of choice these days" to treat schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. If I had mod points, I'd mod this one down.

      ECT is used -- rarely -- to treat major depression. And in a few years, when ECT manufacturers will be required to submit actual research proof of this technique's safety and efficacy, I imagine ECT may not be an option for clinical depression long.

    • by mcgrew ( 92797 )

      ECT, Electro-Convulsive Therapy, also often called "electrical lobotomy".

  • In perspective (Score:5, Informative)

    by tgibbs ( 83782 ) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @11:54AM (#28558611)

    Just to put this in perspective, this is not a gene, but just a region of a chromosome. And the association with any particular locus is weak, so it doesn't look like it is strong enough for diagnosis or prenatal testing. Even when the gene is identified, going from a gene to a treatment tends to be very difficult. We've know of genes for Huntington's Disease and Alzheimer's Disease for years, and while this has inspired a lot of promising research, so far this knowledge has not yet resulting any major improvements with respect to treatment or prevention.

    Moreover, finding that the same genes are involved does not necessarily mean that the diseases are the same, because genes can be "broken" in multiple ways.

    The idea that there is a relationship between schizophrenia and bipolar disorder is not actually new, as there are some people who exhibit characteristics of both disorders, and some people diagnosed with one respond to drugs that are commonly used to treat the other. So this basically adds a bit more evidence to a long-standing suspicion.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 02, 2009 @11:58AM (#28558673)

    I hope this brings things closer to a more reliable form of treatment. I grew up with three (yes, 3) women with schizophrenia, and the drugs only muted the symptoms. I (amazingly) don't have the disease myself. My mom and grandma, who I lived with the first ten years of my life, had noticeable symptoms...I'd get told to do things that didn't make sense to me. I'm a rather geeky and analytical girl, and it is very frustrating when the adults in your life tell you things that *make no sense*, and there's nobody around *without* the disease to talk to. They tried to "protect" me from the "ghosts" on one hand, so I'm sure they cared for me in their own way, but on the other hand my mom would attack my grandma because my grandma (who was a heavy smoker and had issues with her lungs) was "talking under her breath". (She wasn't.) Pretty terrifying to see when you're five years old. I wasn't allowed to go to friends' birthday parties if they were in a certain town that, some hundred years ago, had been the former county seat, because apparantly folks from that town were still pissed off at our town and would try to hurt me (this is the paranoia part of paranoid schizophrenia showing). I wasn't allowed to wear the color red, eat strawberries, or get ice cream from the ice cream man truck. My mom would randomly become enraged at my friends dads simply since they were male, so I'd be cut off from friends randomly. My aunt had less noticeable symptoms, but the disease made her a target for an abusive husband, and of course I was exposed to that when I went to live with them as an 8th grader (my mom went back into the mental hospital, and my grandma had died when I was 10). I finally ran away at 16 and went into the state ward system, which was much, much better since I could make decisions for myself, instead of having to obey people who made no sense.

    Schizophrenia sucks. It sucks for the person having it, since you can't hold down a job, and it sucks for the family that has to put up with it.

    • by mcgrew ( 92797 )

      And it sucks more in the US because you usually can't get treatment because there's no way a person with schotzophrenia (or most other mental illnesses) can hold a job, and without a job you have no insurance, and without insurance you have no medical care.

      My late friend Jim (I knew him since we were teenagers) married a woman with bipolar disorder, and that's hell for the loved ones and especially the kids, too. After the divorce, when it was her turn to get the kids, they'd have to drag their son Todd kic

  • Duh (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Areyoukiddingme ( 1289470 ) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @12:07PM (#28558807)

    Anybody who has had long association with a manic-depressive already knew this. I'm related to one. The first time, he went completely manic. Didn't sleep for a week, etc. The last time he went around the bend, he DIDN'T go manic-depressive. He went paranoid schizophrenic. I can't believe any competent clinician hadn't already noticed that the same patient can easily exhibit symptoms of both, even at the same time. Given that both are caused by imbalances in brain chemistry, and given that the same patient can be both, how big of a leap is it to notice that they're really just different manifestations of the same problem?

    He's much better now, though he still prefers his own flights of fancy to reality. But at least he's capable of distinguishing the two again. After over a decade of on-again off-again lunacy, he's finally decided to take his meds regularly, and he, his therapist, and his mother have found an effective dosage (of Depacote, for the morbidly curious. The stuff works very well, IF, and I repeat IF the dosage is precisely correct. Too little does nothing. Too much ruins the patient's ability to stay awake, let alone function.) It is perhaps telling that regardless of whether he was manic, depressive, paranoid, or schizophrenic, his therapist wanted him to use Depacote. Practitioners already know that the same drug can treat a patient with any of those symptoms.

    So, at the risk of repeating myself... duh?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Reziac ( 43301 ) *

      I've been saying for years that they are not separate disorders but rather a continuum, with OCD at one end, bipolar in the middle, and schizo at the other.

      I've also noted a cyclic pattern -- typically a crazed episode, followed by a brief apologetic period, then some unpredictable time of being apparently-normal. If the cycle is not interrupted, or if it is in any way enabled, it trends toward worse with each cycle.

      I also content this: ALL children are schizophrenic, and progress thru bipolar and OCD phase

  • by XPeter ( 1429763 ) *

    Slashdot won't be helped until the secrets of Aspergers Syndrome are "Unlocked"

  • Interesting.

    Back before psychopharmaceuticals, schizophrenia and depression were thought to be very similar or even the same thing. It was only once we had Thorazine (first antipsychotic) and then later tricyclics (first antidepressents) that in the clinical settings schizophrenia and depression began to be sorted much more distinctly, essentially based on the kinds of patients that got better with antipsychotics versus those that got better with antidepressants.

    It's pretty common for diagnostic definitions to align with successful treatment methadologies, since "what will help" is the fundamental answer that diagnosis hopes to lead to.

    Sounds like we're now getting back to the perspective of a half-century ago.

  • by Samah ( 729132 ) on Friday July 03, 2009 @02:28AM (#28568865)
    I was going to RTFA but my other personality was too depressed.
    NO I WASN'T!
    Yes he was!
    Shut up you two!
    I think you ought to know I'm feeling very depressed...

MESSAGE ACKNOWLEDGED -- The Pershing II missiles have been launched.