New Brain-Neuron Fabric Gift Wrap Wallpaper!

December 8, 2014 at 7:20 am | Posted in 2014, Anxiety, Art, artist, arts & crafts, astrocytes, axon, axon hillock, Biology, Bipolar, body parts, Brain, Cartoon, cerebellum, clothing, craft, creative, dendrites, Depression, design, design your own fabric, doctor, drawings, fabric, fabric design, Fashion, frontal lobe, gift wrap, golgi apparatus, Health, Holidays, Illustrated, illustrator, Kristin Bell, Mania, Manic, Manic-Depressive, Mental Health, Mental Illness, myelin, neuron, neuron impulse, neuroscience, neurotransmitters, oligodendrocyte, Paranoid Schizophrenia, pillow, Pillows, Prefrontal Cortex, Psych Meds, Psychiatrist, Psychiatry, Psychology, Psychosis, wrapping paper | Leave a comment

Hey Everybody! I recently made this new brain/neuron fabric and gift wrap! I made a giant brain pillow for my psychiatrist too, and he seemed to like it which was awesome! :) Here are some pics! Also, the fabric, gift wrap, and wall paper are available on spoonflower here: http://www.spoonflower.com/fabric/3713721

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Hello Abilify Maintena!

May 24, 2013 at 9:45 pm | Posted in 2013, Abilify, Abilify Maintena, Anti-psychotics, Chemistry, drugs, extended release, Haldol, Haldol DEC, Haldol Decanoate, Health, Injections, Kristin Bell, long-acting injectables, Mental Health, Mental Illness, negative symptoms, neuroscience, neurotransmitters, Paranoid Schizophrenia, Prescription Meds, Psych Meds, Psychiatrist, Psychiatry, Psychiatry Denial, Psycho, Psychoactive Substances, psychoanalysis, Psychology, Psychosis, Risperdal, schizoaffective disorder, Schizophrenia, Seroquel, stigma, symptoms, Trazadone, treatment, treatment-resistant, Trilifon, Zyprexa | Leave a comment

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Some of you may remember that I have been getting Haldol Decanoate injections for the past 13 years or so in order to keep my schizophrenia in check. I wrote about it here: https://kristinbell.org/2012/06/14/the-haldol-injections-after-10-years/. Recently Abilify Maintena, the long-acting injectable form of Abilify came onto the market. After discussing it with my doctor, we decided to give it a try. I have been taking the oral form of Abilify along with the Haldol Dec injections for about two or three years with no adverse side effects, and it has really improved my functioning as well. The long term risks of side effects like tardive dyskinesia are much higher with the Haldol than with the Abilify which is one reason why we decided to switch. Abilify also has fewer metabolic side effects (things like less weight gain are associated with Abilify). We are taking a giant leap into the great unknown. I got my first injection of the Abilify tonight. It comes in an injection kit with sterile water that must be mixed with the powder Abilify and then injected. The Haldol is an oil-based mixture that is also injected. I am hoping to also have less sedation side effects from the Abilify. I’m just crossing my fingers that all will go well. I will keep you all updated as time passes. It is also interesting to note that Abilify Maintena has been approved for much longer in many other countries, but it just became available in the US. The US also lags behind many European countries in the administration of injectable forms of antipsychotics. Personally, I think that all people with chronic schizophrenia should give injectable antipsychotics a try. The injections don’t hurt and it is much easier to manage than oral medications. I’m including some pics of what my injection kit looks like too. It looks complicated, but it really only took about 4-5 minutes to administer including reading the directions! I’m saying Hello to Abilify Maintena and goodbye to my old friend Haldol Decanoate!

Schizophrenia and Negative Symptoms: Q&A with Dr. Potkin

May 20, 2013 at 7:48 pm | Posted in 2013, Abilify, affective flattening, alogia, Anti-anxiety meds, Anti-depressants, Anti-psychotics, asociality, avolition, Biology, Bipolar, Brain, Depakote, Depression, dopamine hypothesis, Dr. Steven G. Potkin, drugs, Education, Genentech, Geodon, Haldol, Haldol DEC, Haldol Decanoate, Health, insanity, Irvine (UCI), Kristin Bell, Lithium, Mania, Manic, Medicine, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Mood Stabilizers, N-methyl-D-aspartate, NAMI, negative symptoms, neuron, neuroscience, neurotransmitters, NMDA, NMDA receptor hypofunction hypothesis, Paranoid Schizophrenia, Paxil, Prescription Meds, Psych Meds, Psychiatrist, Psychiatry, Psychiatry Denial, Psycho, Psychoactive Substances, psychoanalysis, Psychology, Psychosis, Risperdal, schizoaffective disorder, Schizophrenia, Science, Seroquel, stigma, Support System, Surviving, symptoms, synapse, sz, Therapist, Trazadone, treatment, treatment-resistant, Trilifon, Wellbutrin, Zoloft, Zyprexa | Leave a comment

negsymp I have some great news! I was able to ask Dr. Steven G. Potkin, Professor of Psychiatry in the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) Medical Center, some questions regarding the negative symptoms of schizophrenia. He is also the Robert R. Sprague Endowed Chair in Brain Imaging. It was a brief, by email interview, but I’m happy to share what I’ve learned with you all! The following is the Q&A:

Kristin: What are negative symptoms?
Dr. Potkin: “Negative” does not refer to a person’s attitude, but instead to a lack of characteristics that should be present. Symptoms include reduced amount and content of speech, even when encouraged to interact (alogia), lack of emotional and facial expression (affective flattening), diminished ability to begin and sustain activities (avolition), decreased ability to find pleasure in everyday life (anhedonia) and social withdrawal (asociality). [1] [2]

Negative symptoms can appear a few years before other symptoms appear in young adulthood in the so-called “prodromal” stage of the illness.[3] Unfortunately these symptoms often go undetected because they manifest themselves as issues common among teenagers: social withdrawal, problems with school work, irritability, depression and sleeping problems.[4]

Kristin: Do all people with schizophrenia have negative symptoms?
Dr. Potkin: No, but at any point in time, negative symptoms can affect approximately 50 percent or more of people with schizophrenia.[5] [6]

Kristin: How do negative symptoms affect a person with schizophrenia? How do they affect their family and friends?
Dr. Potkin: Research suggests that for people living with schizophrenia, negative symptoms are key factors in poor quality of life as well as problems with personal hygiene, school and work performance, maintaining relationships, interacting within the community, and participating in social activities. [7] [8] [9] [10]

For caregivers of people with schizophrenia, negative symptoms may cause more burden than do other types of symptoms as they see their loved ones life isolated and lacking in meaning or joy. [11]

Kristin: How are negative symptoms currently treated?
Dr. Potkin: Current treatments for schizophrenia focus on reducing characteristic symptoms and can include both medication and psychosocial interventions.[12] No effective medication treatment has yet been approved for specific treatment of negative symptoms. Despite progress in the medication side of treatment, there are still unmet needs in terms of symptom control. A large study found that despite treatment, approximately 57 percent of people receiving treatment for a schizophrenia spectrum disorder still had at least one negative symptom.[10]

Kristin: What is the research that Genentech is doing regarding negative symptoms?
Dr. Potkin: Researchers at Genentech are pursuing new treatment strategies for schizophrenia, including increasing N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor activity in the brain in order to target the mechanism that may be a common link between the positive, negative and cognitive symptoms of the disorder.[7] [9] [11] [12]

Specifically, through a clinical trial program, Genentech is looking at an investigational medication for people with schizophrenia, including people who experience mostly negative symptoms of schizophrenia, despite taking medication. For more information, please visit www.SearchLyteschizophrenia.com

Kristin: How can family and friends of someone with schizophrenia help someone with negative symptoms?
Dr. Potkin: Caregivers can talk to doctors about interventions including medication, psychosocial rehabilitation (work, school, relationships), medical care and wellness, and therapy (e.g. cognitive behavioral therapy and peer support groups), as well as ongoing clinical trials.[13] They can work with physicians to find the medications and non-medicine therapies that are right for their loved one. Different medicines may have different side effects. Caregivers can also consider programs from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) including:

• NAMI Hearts and Minds

– Online, interactive wellness initiative

www.nami.org/heartsandminds

• NAMI Peer-to-Peer

– Free, 9-week educational course on recovery

www.nami.org/peertopeer

• NAMI Connection

– Recovery support group for adults

www.nami.org/connection

Kristin: Do scientists know the biological mechanisms involved in negative symptoms? If so, what are the areas of the brain and/or mechanisms involved in negative symptoms?
Dr. Potkin: In the 1970s, the “dopamine hypothesis” of schizophrenia emerged, suggesting the biological basis of schizophrenia was an excess of signaling by dopamine, a chemical messenger in the brain. This theory, however, could not explain negative or cognitive symptoms.[6] In the late 1980’s a newer theory suggested positive, negative and cognitive symptoms could all be due to reduced function of NMDA receptors in the brain. This theory is now known as the “NMDA receptor hypofunction hypothesis.”[6] [7] [8] [9]

Researchers are pursuing new treatment strategies for schizophrenia, including increasing NMDA receptor function in the brain in order to target the mechanism that may be a common link between the positive, negative and cognitive symptoms of the disorder.[7] [9] [11] [12] It is thought that NMDA receptor activity is an important pathway in psychiatric disorders, especially schizophrenia.

End of article.

*Note: I would like to thank Dr. Potkin for helping me put together this interview. This research is very exciting and I hope that negative symptoms can be tackled in this decade! I know how debilitating they can be!

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1.     Gard DE, Kring AM, Gard MG, Horan WP, Green MF. Anhedonia in schizophrenia: distinctions between anticipatory and consummatory pleasure. Schizophr Res. Jul 2007;93(1-3):253-260.

2.     Strauss GP, Gold JM. A new perspective on anhedonia in schizophrenia. Am J Psychiatry. Apr 2012;169(4):364-373.

3.     Stahl SM. Stahl’s Essential Psychopharacology: Neuroscientific Basis and Practical Applications. 3rd ed. New York: Cambridge University Press; 2008.

4.     National Institute of Mental Health. Schizophrenia. 2009; http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/schizophrenia/complete-index.shtml. Accessed July 7, 2012.

5.     Kirkpatrick B, Fenton WS, Carpenter WT, Jr., Marder SR. The NIMH-MATRICS consensus statement on negative symptoms. Schizophr Bull. Apr 2006;32(2):214-219.

6.     Bobes J, Arango C, Garcia-Garcia M, Rejas J. Prevalence of negative symptoms in outpatients with schizophrenia spectrum disorders treated with antipsychotics in routine clinical practice: findings from the CLAMORS study. J Clin Psychiatry. Mar 2010;71(3):280-286.

7.     Ho BC, Nopoulos P, Flaum M, Arndt S, Andreasen NC. Two-year outcome in first-episode schizophrenia: predictive value of symptoms for quality of life. Am J Psychiatry. Sep 1998;155(9):1196-1201.

8.     Kirkpatrick B, Fenton WS, Carpenter WT, Jr., Marder SR. The NIMH-MATRICS consensus statement on negative symptoms. Schizophr Bull. Apr 2006;32(2):214-219.

9.     Kurtz MM. Symptoms versus neurocognitive skills as correlates of everyday functioning in severe mental illness. Expert Rev Neurother. Jan 2006;6(1):47-56.

10.   Milev P, Ho BC, Arndt S, Andreasen NC. Predictive values of neurocognition and negative symptoms on functional outcome in schizophrenia: a longitudinal first-episode study with 7-year follow-up. Am J Psychiatry. Mar 2005;162(3):495-506.

11.   Provencher HL, Mueser KT. Positive and negative symptom behaviors and caregiver burden in the relatives of persons with schizophrenia. Schizophr Res. Jul 25 1997;26(1):71-80.

12.   National Institute of Mental Health. Schizophrenia. 2009; http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/schizophrenia/complete-index.shtml. Accessed July 7, 2012.

13.   National Institute of Mental Health. Schizophrenia. 2009; http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/schizophrenia/complete-index.shtml. Accessed July 7, 2012.

Bring Change 2 Mind!

October 28, 2012 at 8:16 pm | Posted in 2012, Activism, Allies, Anti-anxiety meds, Anti-depressants, Anti-psychotics, awareness, Bipolar, Bring Change 2 Mind, Depression, Kristin Bell, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Mood Stabilizers, neuroscience, Psych Meds, Psychiatrist, Psychiatry, Psychiatry Denial, Psychology, Psychosis, schizoaffective disorder, Schizophrenia, stigma | Leave a comment

Hi! As you might know if you have scanned my blog, I make it a point to talk about mental health/illness, because I have schizophrenia and I believe in stomping out the stigma of mental illness. Well, I have this cute story to share! I was waiting outside of the classroom for my biology lab class to start this fall and started talking to a supernice girl who was in my class. We got to talking and to try to explain why I had been in school so long I decided to tell her that I have schizophrenia. Lo and behold she says “oh yah, my mom has bipolar and my brother has schizophrenia too!” What a small world!!! It turns out her whole family is active in the mental health field in advocating for the erasure of stigma related to mental illness and they have a website called http://bringchange2mind.org/ . I am always surprised when I talk to people about my own illness and then they also know someone or are someone with mental illness too! It is such a big thing in peoples’ lives and when we talk about it, it is surprising/amazing/wonderful that we aren’t alone in our struggles. So, I just wanted to share this little story and a link to the Bring Change 2 Mind website. It was a wonderful feeling to meet someone else at school who knows first hand about mental illness and to be able to talk openly about it! :) Three cheers for no more stigma!!! :)

Genetic Testing! Yay!

August 24, 2012 at 9:30 pm | Posted in Abilify, Anti-anxiety meds, Anti-depressants, Anti-psychotics, Anxiety, benadryl, Biology, Bipolar, Body, BPD, Buspar, Depakote, Depression, dna, drugs, Effexor, genetic testing, Genetics, Haldol, Haldol DEC, Haldol Decanoate, Kristin Bell, Lithium, Mania, Manic, Manic-Depressive, MAO Inhibitors, Medicine, Mental Health, Mental Illness, metabolic pathways, metabolize, Mood Stabilizers, Navane, neuroscience, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, ocd, Paranoid Schizophrenia, Paxil, plavix, Prescription Meds, Prozac, Psych Meds, Psychiatrist, Psychiatry, Psychoactive Substances, Psychology, Psychosis, Risperdal, schizoaffective disorder, Schizophrenia, Science, Seroquel, Technology, testing, Trazadone, Trilifon, warfarin, Wellbutrin, Zoloft, Zyprexa | Leave a comment

http://www.genemedrx.com/

Hey Everybody! I wanted to share with you this cool genetics testing that is available to people. I just got it done, because my nurse practitioner ordered it and Medicare pays for it. (Medicare pays for this testing, because it saves a LOT of money and can save lives!) It is really cool, because it tells you how medications will interact with your specific genetic makeup! It is extremely important if you are taking really any kind of medication. For example, had I known about my results before I took Wellbutrin years ago, it would have saved me from basically having a manic reaction to the medication. It turns out that I metabolize differently than normal on some of the metabolic pathways. This means that I will metabolize the meds on those pathways different than people without this issue. If you have Medicare, I strongly urge you to get this testing done. It could save your life from a bad genetic-medication mistake. I think many other insurance carriers might also pay for it. It also explains why I can take a lower dose of many medications and still get the desired effect from the medication. I would say that anyone who is trying to figure out their psych meds should really get this testing done too. It doesn’t just tell about psych meds though, it tells about stuff involving all other sorts of meds. Seriously, this is pretty awesome! Again, here is the link: http://www.genemedrx.com/

The End of Asperger’s?

April 22, 2012 at 11:33 pm | Posted in 2012, Asperger's, Aspies, DSM-5, Kristin Bell, Mental Health, Mental Illness, neuroscience, Psychiatry, Psychology, revisions | 1 Comment

I was just posting about this on Facebook, so I thought I’d drop a note about it here too. According to Scientific American Mind, May/June 2012, one of the changes that is coming to the DSM-5 (aside from dropping the roman numerals) is that they will be getting rid of the category of Asperger’s. Instead, people with this disorder will be labeled on a spectrum disorder with levels of severity noted. I’m including the short article here, so you can read more about it. It was kind of surprising to me to hear about this. I know that there are a lot of people with Asperger’s who have parts of their identity wrapped up in the diagnostic criteria. It would be like them getting rid of schizophrenia I guess. Suddenly some part of your identity is renamed. It is kinda strange. I don’t know if it is good or bad. That is part of the tricky thing about mental disorders and labels…most people with a mental disorder usually wind up having some part of their identity tied to a label. For good or bad or whatever…it just seems to happen.

Schizowhat? Website!

April 20, 2012 at 1:29 am | Posted in Acceptance, Activism, Kristin Bell, Lunatic, Mental Health, Mental Illness, neuroscience, Problems, Psych Meds, Psychiatrist, Psychiatry, Psychiatry Denial, Psycho, Psychoactive Substances, Psychology, Psychosis, schizoaffective disorder, Schizophrenia, schizowhat?, Shame, stigma, Stories | 1 Comment

I was just informed of this great project called Schizowhat? that is a website aimed at raising awareness about schizophrenia. For those of you who don’t know, I have schizophrenia. I was first diagnosed when I was about 15/16 years old. I hope others of you who are interested or in some way impacted by schizophrenia will check out the website and contribute! Let’s fight the stigma! Yay!

The Visual System: 7th Drawing for Neuro Class

March 4, 2012 at 5:43 am | Posted in Art, drawings, eyes, fovea, Illustrated, Kristin Bell, Mental Health, neuroscience, optic, Psychiatry, Psychology, retina, rods and cones, Science, Seeing, sight, visual system | Leave a comment

I didn’t have time to do a complete job on this one, but I got it done! lol To see a bigger image, just click on the picture.

The Auditory System: 6th Drawing for Neuroscience Class

February 20, 2012 at 12:55 am | Posted in Art, audio, audition, auditory system, basilar membrane, Biology, Brain, cochlea, drawings, ear drum, ears, hearing, Heschl's Gyrus, Kristin Bell, Medicine, Mental Health, Mental Illness, neuroscience, ossicles, Psychiatry, Psychology, Science, sound, tectorial membrane | 2 Comments

This last week we were learning about the auditory system in neuroscience class. These are the drawings I came up with for the assignment we had to do. He said that they didn’t have to be anatomically correct and could be schematic, so the second picture is more of a schematic drawing.

Chinese Patients with Schizophrenia, Their Siblings, and Facial Emotion Processing

February 14, 2012 at 10:48 pm | Posted in Academic, Chinese, facial emotion processing, Kristin Bell, left middle frontal gyrus, neuroscience, Prefrontal Cortex, Psychiatry, Psychology, Psychosis, Schizophrenia | Leave a comment

A study performed by Hui-jie Li et. al. based in Beijing, China and published in Schizophrenia Research vol. 134 (2012) tested 12 patients with schizophrenia for facial emotion processing. In the study, 12 of the non-ill siblings of the patients were also tested along with a control group of 12 people who were matched for demographic variables like IQ, age, gender, and education levels.

The researchers were especially interested in evaluating whether or not the patients with schizophrenia had deficits in facial emotional processing like other studies from Western populations have indicated. In essence, this was a replication study paired with a cultural component to test if facial emotional processing deficits are universal or not.

The data obtained from 8-minute fMRI scanning sessions where participants were shown 20 happy faces, 20 fearful faces and 20 neutral faces (at different times with different time intervals) were analyzed and it was found that the patients with schizophrenia showed abnormal activation of the “social brain neural circuit.” In addition, the sibling participants showed slight abnormalities that fell between what the patients with schizophrenia displayed and what the control group displayed. This result led researchers to hypothesize that there might be a deficit even in the non-ill siblings that the patients’ brains are trying to compensate for.

During the study the control group showed greater activation in various brain regions that processed the happy faces, but the patients with schizophrenia showed greater activation than the controls in the left middle frontal gyrus when processing the fearful faces. The sibling participants also showed greater activation than the controls (but less than their siblings with schizophrenia) when processing fearful faces, but had similar activation responses to controls with the happy faces.

The results of the study are similar to previous studies done to test for facial emotional processing in people with schizophrenia indicating that there are universal deficits in facial emotional processing that patients with schizophrenia must compensate for.

Medial View Human Brain: 5th Drawing for Neuro Class

February 5, 2012 at 3:41 am | Posted in Academic, Art, Brain, cerebellum, Colorful, drawings, Education, frontal lobe, gyrus, Illustrated, Kristin Bell, Medial view of human brain, medulla oblongata, neuroscience, occipital lobe, parietal lobe, Prefrontal Cortex, Psychology, temporal lobe | 2 Comments

 

I’m not quite sure if I got all of the parts in the right spots for this one. It is pretty hard to draw from multiple images and get everything in one pic. This is supposed to be the medial view of the human brain. :) Click the pic to enlarge.

Lateral Human Brain: 4th Neuro Drawing

January 28, 2012 at 9:53 pm | Posted in Art, Brain, Broca's Area, cerebellum, fissure, frontal lobe, gyrus, human, Kristin Bell, lateral view of brain, medulla oblongata, neuroscience, occipital lobe, parietal lobe, pons, Prefrontal Cortex, Psychiatry, Psychology, temporal lobe, Wernicke's Area | 1 Comment

 

This is the 4th pic for my neuro class. It is a drawing of the lateral human brain with only some of the parts. These are the parts we had to label.  :) You can click the picture for a larger view. NOTE: The orbitofrontal cortex was mis-labeled in this picture. It should be on the anterior part of the frontal lobe! So, I deleted the old pic and now this new one has whiteout on it. Oh well! Live and learn! :)

Voltage Changes During Neuron Impulse: 3rd Neuro Drawing

January 26, 2012 at 4:12 pm | Posted in action potential, Art, drawings, Kristin Bell, Mental Health, Mental Illness, neuron, neuron impulse, neuroscience, resting potential, voltage changes | Leave a comment

This is my third drawing for neuroscience class and it is showing the voltage changes and what is going on during the time when a neuron fires. The resting potential is about -70 millivolts, it shoots up to about +30 millivolts and then comes back down below the resting potential before it returns to the resting potential of -70 mV. This all happens in about 1-5 milliseconds depending on the particular neuron. FAST! :) Oh, also keep in mind that we have about 100-500 BILLION neurons in our heads too and nine times as many glial cells!!!

The Synapses: 2nd Drawing for Neuro Class

January 26, 2012 at 3:56 pm | Posted in Art, drawings, ionotropic, Kristin Bell, metabotropic, neuron, neuroscience, neurotransmitters, Psychiatry, Psychology, synapse | 1 Comment

Here is my second drawing for neuroscience class. It is a picture of the synaptic gap basically and shows ionotropic and metabotropic receptors and other brain stuff. lol. :)

My Drawing of the Neuron

January 12, 2012 at 6:47 pm | Posted in Art, astrocytes, axon, Brain, chromosomes, College, dendrites, dna, drawings, ion pump, Kristin Bell, myelin, neuron, neuroscience, neurotransmitters, node of ranvier, oligodendrocyte, Psychiatry, Psychology, synapse | 2 Comments

 

 

I had to draw the neuron and its parts for my neuroscience class. Here is what I made! Click the pic for a larger view. :) NOTE: I had to change my picture a bit, because I didn’t have the astrocytes connecting to the synapses. I also added a few other things. It is a little more crowded now, but I guess more correct. Another NOTE: I deleted the first two pics because they had mistakes. Here is the final version which may also have mistakes, but I think it is the most correct version. :)

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