Bipolar Disorder May Lead to Addictions


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A consulting psychiatrist with Healthcare Alternative Systems, Dr. Carol Lynn Childers treats patients with substance abuse issues at the company’s residential treatment center. Dr. Carol Lynn Childers is a member of the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) and has experience in a variety of issues related to addictions and mood disorders.

Bipolar disorder, a serious mood disorder, features substantial changes in energy, mood, and behavior. Formerly known as manic depression, bipolar disorder includes periods of severe depression and mania.

People with bipolar disorder often experience alcohol or drug addictions. One national study in The American Journal of Managed Care indicated that 56 percent of individuals with bipolar disorder had dealt with some sort of addiction. These addictions often result from attempts to alleviate the symptoms of bipolar disorder.

For example, alcohol may lessen mania, while stimulant drugs such as cocaine may diminish depression. Although these drugs provide some temporary relief, their use leads to addictions and often aggravates symptoms of bipolar disorder.


Disrupted Stress Response Identified In Persons with Schizophrenia


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Dr. Carol Lynn Childers serves as a consulting psychiatrist at Trilogy Behavioral Healthcare, a not-for-profit organization that serves individuals with severe mental illnesses. Dr. Carol Lynn Childers, a member of the American Psychiatric Society and the Illinois Psychiatric Society, treats patients with a range of serious disorders, including schizophrenia.

Through a recent study out of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Canada, researchers identified a disrupted stress response in patients with schizophrenia. The research team, under the leadership of Dr. Christin Schifani of the Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute, identified this connection by analyzing the release of the stress chemicals dopamine and cortisol in a cohort of 40 individuals. Of these, 14 had schizophrenia and 14 were identified as high risk for psychosis, a common symptom of schizophrenia, while 12 had no diagnosis of a mental illness.

Previous research had noted that for individuals with high risk of psychosis as well as those experiencing the symptom for the first time, stress caused an increased release of dopamine in the striatum of the brain. This particular study focused on the prefrontal cortex, which controls dopamine release in the striatum, and found no significant differences among the three groups when under stress. According to researchers, this disconnect indicates a dysfunction in the stress hormone pathways.

The study team has noted that these findings may help scientists and clinicians to develop new preventive strategies for persons at risk of schizophrenia. Through future research, new stress management techniques may emerge as strategies for reducing these risks.