Schizophrenia is a chronic, severe, and disabling brain disease. Approximately 1 percent of the population develops schizophrenia during their lifetime -- more than 2 million Americans suffer from the illness in a given year. Dr. Kristin Cadenhead, UCSD Department of Psychiatry discusses this mysterious and devastating disease.
There are about six million severely mentally ill people in the United States. About half of these severely mentally ill do not know they are ill. (1) (Severe mental illness includes schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and a few other diagnoses). There is a medical term for this condition: anosognosia, an impaired awareness of one's own disturbed mental condition, despite evidence to the contrary. An ill person may claim that everything is fine, when it is not. This impaired awareness of mental illness is caused by damage to specific parts of the brain. Neurocognitive deficits, or symptoms of a brain dysfunction, are part of the mental illness. People with anosognosia do not recognize that hallucinations, mania, delusions, paranoia or other symptoms of mental illness are, in fact, mental illness.
Osteopathically informed psychiatry recognizes the biopsychosocial principle that the body is able to affect the mind. Consider for example the phenomenon of chronic disease-related depression that asserts when depression is analyzed in the context of preexisting disease, its prevalence is much higher than the typically stated 5% of the world's population. Interestingly, 8-27% of patients with diabetes mellitus, 20-30% of cardiac patients, and 40-50% of patients with oropharyngeal or pancreatic cancer manifest a depressive disorder.
Until a few days ago, I'd never heard of the Center for Gender Equity and National Center of Excellence in Women's Health. That's when I viewed the program "Anxiety Disorders: More Than a Case of Nerves". The keynote speaker was Ellen Haller, M.D., Professor Director of the WomenCare Mental Health Program in the UCSF's Department of Psychiatry.
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