Flu During Pregnancy May Increase Child’s Risk for Bipolar Disorder

Pregnant mothers’ exposure to the flu was associated with a nearly fourfold increased risk that their child would develop bipolar disorder in adulthood, in a study funded by the National Institutes of Health. The findings add to mounting evidence of possible shared underlying causes and illness processes with schizophrenia, which some studies have also linked to prenatal exposure to influenza.

Pregnant with the flu

New Medical Specialty Proposed for Combined Depression and Heart Disease

New research suggests that there is a strong link between depression and heart disease. Angelos Halaris, M.D., Ph.D., a psychiatrist at the Loyola University Medical Center, is so impressed by the strength of the correlation that he proposes a new medical subspecialty specifically to study and treat combined depression/heart disease patients. The new subspecialty, “Psychocardiology,” would be for the purpose of increasing physician and patient awareness of the strong link between the two disease processes, and would also increase the likelihood that patients with one of the two diseases — who would therefore be at risk of developing the other — would receive appropriate monitoring.

Psychocardiology

Voices in the Brain: Disruption of the Default Network Linked to Hallucinations

Hearing voices that are not there was once thought to be a core symptom of schizophrenia and signify severe mental illness. It has been increasingly acknowledged that people with no other symptoms of schizophrenia or psychosis do hear voices [1]. There are several theories about what causes these auditory hallucinations. For example, there is good evidence that hearing voices can be linked to trauma [2]. Attempting to understand the phenomenon is not only scientifically interesting but also relates to how society views people with these experiences and if and how they may be treated. A search for how these experiences are associated with brain function is ongoing. New research published in the journal Human Brain Mapping suggests that the predisposition to hearing voices may relate to abnormal functioning of the brain whilst at rest [3].

Voices

A Heavy Heart: Depression and Cardiac Function

Two recently published studies have found that changes in heart function are seen during major depression [1] and also seen in some people who have recovered from depression [2]. This link between mental health and physical health emphasises how the body and mind are linked. Furthermore, it also suggests that some people with depression may be at increased risk of cardiac disease. The research also sheds further light on the biological pathways of depression.

Depressed woman

May is Mental Health Month 2012

More than 50 years ago, Mental Health America started the tradition of celebrating “May is Mental Health Month” to raise awareness of mental health conditions and mental wellness for all. For 2012, Mental Health America is addressing mental health conditions and mental wellness through two themes.

Mental health month