Mental health awareness month: schizophrenia.

Schizophrenia is a serious disorder which affects how a person thinks, feels and acts. Someone with schizophrenia may have difficulty distinguishing between what is real and what is imaginary; may be unresponsive or withdrawn; and may have difficulty expressing normal emotions in social situations.  Schizophrenia is a devastating disorder for most people who are afflicted, and very costly for families and society.

“The overall U.S. 2002 cost of schizophrenia was estimated to be $62.7 billion, with $22.7 billion excess direct health care cost ($7.0 billion outpatient, $5.0 billion drugs, $2.8 billion inpatient, $8.0 billion long-term care). (source: Analysis Group, Inc.).

“Schizophrenia is a disease that typically begins in early adulthood. It starts between the ages of 15 and 25. Men tend to get develop schizophrenia  earlier than women and  most males become ill between 16 and 25 years old. Most females develop symptoms several years later, and the incidence in women is higher in women after age 30. The average age  is 18 in men and 25 in women.


  • Hearing or seeing something that isn’t there;
  • a costant feeling of being watched;
  • peculiar or nonsensical way of speaking or writing;
  • strange body positioning;
  • feeling indifferent to very important situations;
  • deterioration of academic or work performance;
  • a change in personal hygiene and appearance;
  • a change in personality;
  • increasing retirement from social situations;
  • irrational, angry or fearful response to loved ones;
  • inability to sleep or concentrate;
  • inappropriate or bizarre behavior;
  • disorder thinking and speech.



Schizophrenia is not caused by childhood experiences, poor parenting or lack of willpower, nor are the symptoms identical for each person. The cause of schizophrenia is still unclear. Some theories about the cause of this disease include: genetics (heredity), biology (abnormalities in the brain’s chemistry or structure); and/or possible viral infections and immune disorders. Drugs can cause schizophrenia, especially cannabis an marijuana. ”Today the leading theory of why people get schizophrenia is that it is a result of a genetic predisposition combined with an environmental exposures and / or stresses during pregnancy or childhood that contribute to, or trigger, the disorder. Already researchers have identified several of the key genes – that when damaged – seem to create a predisposition, or increased risk, for schizophrenia. The genes, in combination with suspected environmental factors – are believed to be the factors that result in schizophrenia. These genes that seem to cause increased risk of schizophrenia include the DISC1, Dysbindin, Neuregulin and G72 genes, but it has been estimated that up a dozen or more genes could be involved in schizophrenia risk.” (source. )


While no cure for schizophrenia exists, many people with this illness can lead productive and fulfilling lives with the proper treatment. They can be treated with antipsychotic medication.

There are two major types of antipsychotic medication:

  • Typical (“conventional”) antipsychotics effectively control the “positive”symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions, and confusion of schizophrenia. We have:
  1. Chlorpromazine (Thorazine);
  2. Haloperidol (Haldol);
  3. Mesoridazine (Serentil);
  4. Perphenazine (Trilafon);
  5. Fluphenazine (Proxlixin).


  • Atypical (“New Generation”) antipsychotics treat both the positive and negative symptoms of schizophrenia, often with fewer side effects. We have:
  1. Aripiprazole (Abilify, Aristada);
  2. Asenapine (Saphris);
  3. Brexpiprazole (Rexulti);
  4. Cariprazine (Vraylar);
  5. Clozapine (Clozaril, FazaClo, Versacloz);
  6. Iloperidone (Fanapt);
  7. Lurasidone (Latuda).


If you or someone you know are in crisis, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).





E i pensieri fluivano sulla cartaCome un fiumiciattolo che scorre lentamente.

E inizio a scrivere,

dando alle parole una vita propria.

Le sento come se fossero vive

Come se fossero dei bambini appena nati.

All’improvviso queste parole si trasformano in un fiume

E come un fiume che scorre velocemente, non ho nulla con cui fermarle.

E continuo, continuo a scrivere sperando che la carta possa capirmi,

Sperando che qualcuno leggendo capisca, 

Sperando che questa assorba un pezzo della mia anima per creare quella magia

Che rende tutto un po’ diverso dalla realtà.

Non sono questi fiumi che forse, una volta tanto, ci salvano la vita?

Mental health awareness month: anxiety disorder.

Remember this: People diagnosed with Anxiety have high levels of empathy and they’re able to understand others pain and joy easier. They understand things on deeper level and they doubly strong levels of intuition accuracy.

Occasional anxiety is a normal part of life. Feeling anxious when faced with a problem at work, before taking a test, or making an important decision is normal, but anxiety disorders involve more than temporary worry or fear. For a person with an anxiety disorder, the anxiety does not go away and can get worse over time. The feelings can interfere with daily activities such as job performance, school work, and relationships. There are several different types of anxiety disorders like  generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and social anxiety disorder.


Symptoms and signs.

People with generalized anxiety disorder display excessive anxiety or worry for months and face several anxiety-related symptoms. We have:

  • being easily fatigued;
  • difficulty concentrating or having their minds go blank;
  • irritability;
  • muscle tension;
  • difficulty controlling the worry;
  • sleep problems (difficulty falling or staying asleep or restless, unsatisfying sleep).


Panic Disorder.

People with panic disorder have recurrent unexpected panic attacks, which are sudden periods of intense fear that may include palpitations, pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate,  shaking, sensations of shortness of breath or choking. There could be intense worry about when the next attack will happen, fear or avoidance of places where panic attacks have occurred in the past and feelings of being out of control during a panic attacks.

Social anxiety.

People with social anxiety disorder (sometimes called “social phobia”) have a marked fear of social or performance situations in which they expect to feel embarrassed, judged, rejected or fearful of offending others. People can feel highly anxious about being with other people and having a hard time talking to them, feel very self-conscious in front of other people and worried about feeling humiliated, embarrassed, or rejected, or fearful of offending others or they can be afraid that other people will judge them. They stay away from places where there can be a lot of people, they have hard times at keeping in touch with someone, they feel sick or their hands shake when they’re around groups of people. Some physical health conditions, such as an overactive thyroid or low blood sugar, as well as taking certain medications, can imitate or worsen an anxiety disorder.



Researchers are finding that genetic and environmental factors, frequently in interaction with one another, are risk factors for anxiety disorders. Specific factors include:

  • shyness, or behavioral inhibition, in childhood;
  • having few econmic resources;
  • being divorced or widowed;
  • exposure to stressful life events in childhood and adulthood;
  • anxiety disorders in close biological relatives;
  • parental history of mental disorders.



Psychotherapy or “talk therapy” can help people with anxiety disorders. To be effective, psychotherapy must be directed at the person’s specific anxieties. A typical “side effect” of psychotherapy is temporary discomfort involved with thinking about confronting feared situations. We have CBT here too. CBT can also help people learn and practice social skills, which is vital for treating social anxiety disorder. Two specific components of CBT used to treat social anxiety disorder are cognitive therapy and exposure therapy. Cognitive therapy focuses on identifying, challenging, and  neutralizing unhelpful thoughts. There can be useful support group or you can practice self-help. Stress management techniques and meditation can help people with anxiety disorders calm themselves and may enhance the effects of therapy. Anti-anxiety medications help reduce the symptoms of anxiety, such as panic attacks, or extreme fear and worry. The most common anti-anxiety medications are called benzodiazepines. Benzodiazepines used to treat anxiety disorders are:

  • alprazolam;
  • lorazepam.

Buspirone (it is unrelated to the benzodiazepines) is sometimes used for the long-term treatment of chronic anxiety. Antidepressants are used to treat depression, but they also are helpful for treating anxiety disorders. But be careful, reader, antidepressants can be risky because they can cause some people to have suicidal thoughts or make suicide attempts.





Mental health awareness month: obsessive- compulsive disorder and personality disorder (OCD)-(OCPD).

Remember this: people diagnosed with  OCD have higher level of determination, they have naturally a good memory and they’re doubly as compelled to learn new things.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a common, chronic and long-lasting disorder in which a person has uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts (obsessions) and behaviors (compulsions) that he/she feels the urge to repeat a lot of times everyday. So it’s a mental health condition characterized by distressing, intrusive, obsessive thoughts and repetitive, compulsive physical or mental acts.


Millions of people are affected by OCD.  Current estimates are that approximately 1 in 40 adults in the U.S. (about 2.3% of the population) and 1 in 100 children have this condition.

  • 2.2 million, 1.0%
    Equally common among men and women.
    The median age of beginning is 19, with 25 percent of cases occurring by age 14. One-third of affected adults first experienced symptoms in childhood


  • Fear of germs or contamination;
  • unwanted forbidden or taboo thoughts involving sex, religion;
  • having things symmetrical or in a perfect order;
  • excessive cleaning and/or handwashing;
  • ordering and arranging things in a particular, precise way;
  • repeatedly checking on things, such as repeatedly checking to see if the door is locked or that the oven is off.
  • tic disorder: these are sudden and brief such as eye blinking and other eye movements or facial grimacing;
  • repetitive thoughts, images, or urges that they do not feel able to control;
  • the person is aware of these intrusive thoughts and feelings and does not want to have these ideas.


Other conditions sharing some features of OCD occur more frequently in family members of OCD patients. These include body dysmorphic disorder (preoccupation with imagined ugliness), hypochondriasis (preoccupation with physical illness), trichotillomania (hair pulling), some eating disorders such as binge eating disorder, and  Tourette’s syndrome.

The causes  can be genetic or they depend on the structure of the brain and the enviroment.

  • Genetic: family studies have shown that people with first-degree relatives (such as a parent, sibling) who have OCD are at a higher risk for developing OCD themselves;
  • brain structure:  there appears to be a connection between the OCD symptoms and abnormalities in certain areas of the brain, but that connection is still not clear;
  • enviroment: people who have experienced abuse  in childhood or other trauma are at an increased risk for developing OCD.ef3bf80500528d54803c197816f7ff49


Treatments and Therapies.

First-line treatments for OCD will include:

  • CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy);
  • SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors);
  • a combination of SSRI and CBT.



CBT is a type of psychotherapy (talking therapy) that aims to help the patient change the way they think, feel, and behave. It refers to two treatments:

  • exposure and response prevention (ERP). They talk about what they’ve felt and how to prevent to reduce anxiety;
  • cognitive therapy. People participate in CT work eliminating compulsive behaviours.


Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIS).

There are a drugs available for treating OCD, with the development of SSRIs expanding the range of treatment options. SSRIs that may be prescribed to help people to  manage OCD. They are used when the situation is more serious. We have:

  • clomipramine;
  • fluoxetine;
  • fluvoxamine;
  • paroxetine hydrochloride;
  • sertraline;
  • citalopram;
  • escitalopram.



Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder looks entirely different from OCD at first glance. Typical symptoms include:

  • Being excessively fixated with lists, rules and details;
  • being inflexible when it comes to rules, morals or ethical codes;
  • having a sense of pefectionism that interferes with completing tasks;
  • being obsessed with work and working so much that it interferes with relationships and social activities;
  • an inability to be generous.

Like all personality disorders, OCPD can be thought of as an extreme exaggeration of a certain personality style. Many of us likely know someone who is somewhat like this.It’s only a personality disorder when it is so extreme that it interferes with daily life.


The treatments for OCPD are similar to the treatments for OCD and may include antidepressants, psychotherapy and relaxation exercises.

The differences.

Although they may seem similar, Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD) is a different condition from the more commonly known Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). OCD is often characterized by a repetition or adherence to rituals. OCPD is characterized more by an unhealthy adherence to perfectionism.

If you look hard, you can see why OCD and OCPD have similar names. Both involve the tendency to obsess and to act compulsively. OCD is an illness that can develop at different points in life. Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder must have begun by early adulthood. It refers to a deeply embedded personality style, rather than to a set of acute symptoms that get in the way.

Maybe the biggest difference between OCD and OCPD is that while people with OCD do not want to have the troubling thoughts they have and they realize that those thoughts are irrational and unreasonable, those with OCPD believe their thinking and behavior is perfectly rational. Many people with OCPD don’trealize they need treatment, but people with OCD often realize they need help to deal with the overwhelming thoughts. OCD affects everything in the sufferer’s life, including work/school, relationships and functioning, while OCPD tends to only affect interpersonal relationships.

I think these sites can be useful:





Mental health awareness month: bipolar disorder.

This is the month of mental ilnesses awareness so let’s talk about the Bipolar Disorder.

Remember this: people diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder are four times as capable in art, they have an intense creativity level and they have an increased ability in observing.

” Bipolar disorder is the great stew of mental ilness: a lil ADHD, a bit of OCD, a dash of eccentricity, a sliver of paranoia, a splash of impulsivity, a touch of random neuroses, a tad of grandiosity, and strokes of genius! ”


It’s not just feeling moody or stress. I’ve heard a lot of people that claim themselves to be bipolar just for these! Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels. Bipolar spectrum disorders are a major public health problem, with estimates of lifetime prevalence in the general population of the United States at 3.9% , with a range from 1.5 to 6.0%. It’s also associated with significant mortality risk, with approximately 25% of patients attempting suicide.

There are four types of bipolar disorder and the moods range from periods of extremely “up” to periods of ”down”(like depressive disorders).

So we have:

  • Bipolar disorder I: defined by manic episodes that last at least 7 days or severe depressive episodes that the person needs to be immediately hospitalized. This episode can even last 2 weeks and there can be both depressive crisis and manic episodes.
  • Bipolar disorder II: depressive and manic episodes but less sever than the above ones.
  • Cyclothymic disorder: there are numerous periods of hypomanic symptoms as well numerous periods of depressive symptoms lasting for at least 2 years.
  • Other Specified and Unspecified Bipolar and Related Disorders : the symptoms are different than the others listed above.

Bipolar I disorder starts on average at 18 years and bipolar II disorder at 22 years.  A community study using the Mood Disorder Questionnaire (MDQ) revealed a prevalence of 3.7 percent. The National Comorbidity Study showed outset typically between 18 and 44, with higher amounts between 18 and 34 than 35 and 54. Bipolar disorder has not  been associated with sociodemographic factors. Males and females are both equally affected by bipolar I, while bipolar II is more common in women. No clear association between race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status or rural/ urban enviroments. There is a higher rate of bipolar disorder in unmarried people.

Signs and symptoms.

There are ”mood episodes” that are drastically different from the moods and behaviors of normal people. Here there’s a list of the possible symptoms.


Bipolar disorder can  present even less severe mood swings. We have hyomanic episodes where the person can feel very productive and energetic. That person maybe doesn’t notice the change but family or friends can do it. Poeple with this disorder can develop mania or depression.

Some symptoms are similar to other ilnesses. People with bipolar disorder are also at higher risk for thyroid disease, obesity, heart diseases and chronic headache.

  • Psychosis: Sometimes, a person with severe episodes of mania or depression also has psychotic symptoms, such as hallucinations . The psychotic symptoms tend to match the person’s extreme mood. The person can think to be rich, famous or to be a superhero. Sometimes he can believe he committed a crime;
  • Anxiety disorder or ADHD;
  • Substance abuse: people with bipolar disorder can do drugs or abuse alcohol. Sometimes they have problems with school or relationships.

The causes can be:

  1. Genetics: people with certain kinds of genes can suffer of this disease;
  2. Family history: people who have parents with bipolar disorder can develop it;
  3. Brain structure and functioning: studies show how the structure of the brain can  differ from other brains.

About medications

A number of medications are used to treat bipolar disorder, including:

  • Mood stabilizers such as tegretol, lamictal or lithobid;
  • Antypsichotics;
  • Antidepressants;
  • Antianxiety medications.

Antipsychotic drugs may also be used to control depressive episodes or mania, especially when delusions or hallucinations are going on. For example: Abilify (aripiprazole), Saphris (asenapine), Symbyax (olanzapine and fluoxetine) and Seroquel (quietapine).

Rember: if you need help call 1-800-273-TALK (8255), available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. There are also organizations such as :