Cannabis Contributes to 15% of Case of Schizophrenia

A study in Psychological Medicine (May 2, 2023) reported on ” Danish registry data spanning five decades and representing more than 6.9 million people in Denmark to estimate the population-level percentage of schizophrenia cases attributable to (cannabis use disorder) CUD. A total of 60,563 participants were diagnosed with CUD. Three quarters of cases were in men; there were 45,327 incident cases of schizophrenia during the study period. The researchers estimate that in 2021, about 15% of schizophrenia cases among males aged 16 to 49 could have been avoided by preventing CUD, compared with 4% among females in this age range. For young men aged 21 to 30, the proportion of preventable schizophrenia cases related to CUD may be as high as 30%, the authors report.

Editors Note: Other data also support an increased risk for bipolar disorder in those abusing cannabis. The notion that cannabis use carries few risks is baloney. Making pot legal does not make it safe.

Assets of Exercise

Highlights from the International Society for Bipolar Disorders Conference Posters and Presentations, Chicago, June 22-25, 2023

Ben Goldstein of the University of Toronto gave a plenary talk on the benefits of exercise.

He found poor aerobic fitness in 19 of 20 young bipolar patients. They had low cerebral blood flow in proportion to the severity of their exhaustion after exercise. He noted the importance of stressing an endpoint of fitness for exercise rather than weight loss. Using an exercise coach and running with family and friends was helpful in motivating patients for consistent exercise.

The Need for Psychotherapy for Bipolar Disorder

Highlights from the International Society for Bipolar Disorders Conference Posters and Presentations, Chicago, June 22-25, 2023

Greg Murray gave a talk on effectiveness of multiple types of psychotherapy for bipolar disorder and suggests that the choice be designed for each individual.

He describes 10 core elements of each type of therapy. These included dealing with:

  • 1. Knowledge, acceptance, and adherence
  • 2. The presence of anxiety in some 90% of patients
  • 3. Suicidality and crisis management
  • 4. Skills: monitoring, relapse prevention, life time events, recognition of early symptoms
  • 5. Identity, cognitive restructuring, dealing with stigma, train action and achievement, confronting perfectionism, CBT
  • 6. Sleep and circadian rhythms
  • 7. Trauma, child adversity, PTSD
  • 8. Emotion regulation
  • 9. Relationships: social, family, occupational roles (family or group)
  • 10. Substance use and avoidance, access, motivational interviewing, impulsivity

Childhood Bullying and Maltreatment Yield A Worse Course of Bipolar Illness

Highlights from the International Society for Bipolar Disorders Conference Posters and Presentations, Chicago, June 22-25, 2023

Georgina Hosang of Bart’s & The London, Queen Mary’s School of Medicine reported that bullying and maltreatment together were associated with more suicidal behaviors than either childhood experience alone.

Cognitive Function and White Matter Integrity in Individuals With Bipolar Disorder

Highlights from Posters Presented at the Society of Biological Psychiatry Meeting, April 27-29, 2023 in San Diego

Jennifer McDowell reported that they found “significantly reduced FA (fractional anisotropy) values in 85 bipolar probands compared to 66 controls” in multiple (n=8) white matter tracts. There were significantly lower scores in bipolar probands compared to controls on composite scores, ( p = 0.007), verbal fluency, ( p < 0.001), and symbol coding, (p = 0.023). They concluded that: “ Impacted connectivity in critical fiber tracts may be key to understanding the neural underpinnings of deficits, like cognition, observed in this clinical population.”

Editors note: It is of interest that lithium has been shown to normalize some white matter abnormalities in youngsters and help preserve cognitive function in older individuals. On this and many other accounts, way too little lithium is being used in the treatment of patients with bipolar disorder. Lithium not only increases neurogenesis (new grey matter neurons) and hippocampal volume, but also has positive effects on white matter tracts and even increases the length of one’s telomeres (which keeps you more healthy). In other ungrammatical words, “If your brain is not connected right, it don’t work right.”

LITHIUM’S AMAZING DIVERSITY OF ASSETS

Editor’s Note: Lithium is vastly underutilized. There is wide spread ignorance about its many assets and misconceptions about its few side effects. Here is an update that should be of interest to potential users, family members, and clinicians.

Lithium:

  • Prevents unipolar and bipolar depression
  • Augments effects of antidepressants in unipolar depression
  • Potentiates the effects of atypical antipsychotics in treating mania and depression
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Normalizes some aspects of cardiovascular risk
  • Normalizes secretions for monocytes and leukocytes
  • Increases neurogenesis, BCl-2, and hippocampal and thalamic volumes
  • The increases in neuroprotective factors occurs at brain levels below typical therapeutic dosages
  • Protects against memory deterioration
  • Lowers dementia risk in old age
  • Reduces suicide clinically and at minute concentrations in the water supply
  • Lengthens telomeres and increases longevity
  • Reduces size of lesions in models of stroke, AIDS, and Huntington’s chorea
  • Normalizes circadian rhythms
  • Reduces manic-like behavior induced by clock gene mutations
  • Prevents calcium currents and increased firing rate in stem cells from bipolar patients
  • Induces minimal to no weight gain on long term follow up
  • Does not increase risk of kidney failure when given at blood levels of .6 to .8 blood levels
  • Protects against spine and hip osteoporosis

Conclusion: With so many assets and so few liabilities, physicians and patients should reconsider the benefits of lithium and use it more often, not only in the few who respond to it as a monotherapy, but as a adjunct to the many other treatments of bipolar disorder. This should be a “no brainer” as lithium will very likely help some have fewer problems from their illness and may even help them live longer.

Many of these points are summarized in the open access publication: Robert M Post, The New News About Lithium: An Underutilized Treatment in The United States, Neuropsychopharmacology accepted article preview 4 October 2017; several new updates have been added from the International Society on Bipolar Disorders meeting, Chicago, June, 2023.

Even Psychotic Mania Does Not Preclude Remarkable Success

Highlights from the International Society for Bipolar Disorders Conference Posters and Presentations, Chicago, June 22-25, 2023

Major (Two Star) General Gregg F. Martin described his lifetime hyperthermia (high energy) as a youngster morphing into full-blown mania and then a fulminatory psychotic mania. This was undiagnosed and untreated for almost 20 years and was accompanied by anxiety and Iraq war-induced PTSD and, eventually, terrifying delusions and hallucinations; all the while he was somehow functioning at a very high level and getting repeated promotions.

When finally and properly diagnosed, he was told he had to resign. He was treated with lithium and other agents, and achieved a complete recovery. He is now lecturing about his experience with bipolar illness and working on efforts directed at better illness recognition, treatment, and destigmatization. He is not only a war hero, but also an illness hero.

The Systematic Treatment Optimization Program for Early Mania

Highlights from the International Society for Bipolar Disorders Conference Posters and Presentations, Chicago, June 22-25, 2023

A. Rathseesh and L. Yatham reported on the importance of systematic vigorous treatment of a first manic episode. If more episodes occurred, losses in cognition did not fully recover. All patients remitted within 1 year of their first mania. Recurrence occurred in 58% by year 1 and 74% by year 4. Predictors of functional recovery included sustained euthymia, especially absence of depressive symptoms, good cognitive functioning, and maintaining a normal weight. More aggressive treatment to prevent relapses in years 1-4 after a first manic episode appears needed and how exactly to achieve this requires further study.

Early Antidepressant Use is Associated with Rapid Cycling Bipolar Disorder

Highlights from Posters Presented at the Society of Biological Psychiatry Meeting, April 27-29, 2023 in San Diego

A.C. Courtes and Jair Soares reported that “Antidepressants were prescribed as the first psychiatry medication in 74/114 (65%) of BD patients.” This and alcohol use disorder were independent predictors of rapid cycling.

Serotonin is Back

A review by Moncrieff et al in Molecular Psychiatry 2022 concluded that : “there is no convincing evidence that depression is associated with, or caused by, lower serotonin concentrations or activity.” This was widely reported in the news media.

A new analysis by 26 experts in the field finds many faults with this analysis (Jauhar et al 2023). Instead, they conclude “A more accurate, constructive conclusion would be that acute tryptophan depletion and decreased plasma tryptophan in depression indicate a role for 5-HT in those vulnerable to or suffering from depression, and that molecular imaging suggests the system is perturbed. The proven efficacy of SSRIs in a proportion of people with depression lends credibility to this position.” Long live serotonin’s role in depression.

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