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June 29, 2006

Yale Findings Hold Promise for Stopping Progression of Bipolar Disorder

Researchers at Yale University found that the changes seen in the ventral prefrontal cortex (part of the brain located above the eyes and regulates emotion) of bipolar patients werent present till young adulthood. These changes were also less predominant in bipolar patients who were taking mood-stabilizing medications.

Leading this research is Hilary Blumberg, M.D., associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry and director of Yale's Mood Disorders Research Program. She hopes that this research can lead to preventing the progression of bipolar disorder.

Read Full Article:

“Yale Findings Hold Promise for Stopping Progression of Bipolar Disorder.” Science Daily ( February 2006.

Yale Psychiatric Dept.

Posted by Michelle Roberts at 6:51 PM | Comments (3)

Bipolar Suffers Monitor Moods Online

An Australian study is attempting to use the internet as a tool for people with bipolar disorder to monitor mood swings and hopefully control the disease. This 12 month study will include 300 participants with bipolar disorder utilizing a specialized internet program to monitor their moods and receive advice on their individualized scores.

"We think constant support and advice online will help balance things out and make people feel like they're becoming an expert in their own illness," said Dr. Barnes of Sydneys Black Dog Institute. "Potentially, this type of online help can supplement traditional health care which is already stretched to meet community needs."

The research team will watch participants scores and notify their doctors if dangerous symptoms like suicidal thoughts are present. The internet program can also help with medication adherance.

Read the full article:
"Bipolar Suffers Monitor Moods Online." The Age. ( June 18, 2006.

Click here for PDF press release on this study.

click to participate in this study

Posted by Michelle Roberts at 5:43 PM | Comments (3)

June 28, 2006

Infectious Agents in Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder

Since the beginning of the century, some scientists have theorized that bipolar disorder and even schizophrenia might be caused by an infection. This theory is supported with their similarities to other infectious diseases. AIDS, malaria, polio, and many more infectious diseases show a genetic predisposition, like both bipolar and schizophrenia. Even the neurotransmitter abnormalities provide support for this theory; alterations of dopamine, serotonin, and glutamate (neurotransmitters effected by bipolar and schizophrenia) have been seen in infectious diseases.

One study reviewed 108 psychiatric cases believed to be caused by CNS (central nervous system) viruses and concluded that 62 of those cases showed a specific virus. Syphilis, a STD, and Borrelia burgdorferi have been associated with producing schizophrenia like symptoms. More support for this theory is shown with over 200 studies that found an increased risk for developing bipolar and schizophrenia if born during the winter-spring seasons; which is consistent with an increased risk for other infectious diseases.

Dr. Robert Yolken and Dr. Fuller Torrey are examining 4 infectious agents they believe may be causes for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder (T gondii, HSV-1 and HSV-2, CMV, and endogenous retroviruses).

T gondii, one of the most prevalent human parasites, is hosted in cats and past to people through feces ingestion, or undercooked meat from animals that are infected. Exposure to it during pregnancy can cause CNS abnormalities in the fetus, and even stillbirths. A review of many studies found that persons with schizophrenia are 3 times more likely to be infected with T gondii than the control. There have even been reports of greater childhood exposure to cats in those suffering from schizophrenia.

Herpes Simplex Viruses (HSV-1 and HSV-2), usually spread by sexual contact, are fairly common infections in humans. A recent study found increased levels of HSV-2 in mothers of persons with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. HSV-1 has been shown to increase cognitive dysfunction in those with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, but not in the control.

Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is another herpes virus. People with schizophrenia have an increase in CMV antibodies, especially in those suffering with primarily negative symptoms. People with schizophrenia have also shown decrease in symptoms when treated with Val acyclovir, an antiviral medication used to treat herpes.

Endogenous Retroviruses are parts of DNA that join the human genome when infection in present. They can alter the transcription of genes and limit immune response. Studies have found that infection with T gondii and herpes viruses may activate the endogenous retroviruses, and be the connection between genetic abnormalities and infectious diseases in causing psychiatric disorders.

More research is needed to know the true connection between bipolar and schizophrenia with infectious diseases. Dr. Robert Yolken and Dr. Fuller Torrey along with the Stanley Medical Research Institute are currently studying the effects of antibiotics and antiviral medications on schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. The hope is that in the future a vaccine could be created to protect against infections that lead to these 2 disorders.

Source Article: “Infectious Agents in Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder.” Psychiatric Times (, June 2006, Vol XXIII, No. 7.

Recent Abstracts of Interest:

"The catechol O-methyltransferase Val158Met polymorphism and herpes simplex virus type 1 infection are risk factors for cognitive impairment in bipolar disorder: additive gene-environmental effects in a complex human psychiatric disorder." ( Bipolar Disorders, Volume 8 Page 124 - April 2006

"Human Endogenous Retrovirus Expression Profiles in Samples from Brains of Patients with Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorders." Journal of Virology (, September 2005, p. 10890-10901, Vol. 79, No. 17.

Posted by Michelle Roberts at 12:03 PM | Comments (2)

June 10, 2006

Free Online Game to Reduce Social Stress, Improve Self Esteem

As we've reported in the past, research indicates that people who have bipolar disorder are more likely to suffer from social stress and have difficulty interpreting facial expressions. Additionally, research is suggesting that if you can lower the levels of social stress then people who have bipolar disorder will be less likely to relapse, and more likely to have good outcomes. There have also been research that suggests that bipolar disorder who have lower social stress have a lower risk of developing bipolar disorder.

There is a new free internet-based game that has been developed by psychiatric researchers at McGill University in Canada. The game has in at least one scientific study been proven to improve self esteem and lower social stress. It seems possible that this might also be of significant value to people who have bipolar disorder as well as family members. An advanced version is also available for purchase ($17.99) for download to your computer from the Mindhabits web site.

We encourage you to try the game (see below). After trying it for a week or two - leave us a comment below and let us know whether you find it helpful at all. To start, just click on the "Play the Game" button below, and then find the smiling face and click on it as fast as you can. You can play for as long and as frequently as you like.

The game was developed by a small company in Montreal named MindHabits, Inc. (founded by the researchers from McGill University).

Company: MindHabits, Inc.

Posted by szadmin at 7:10 PM | Comments (4)