Glutamate, Dopamine & Schizophrenia

2 Oct

According to an article By Traci Pedersen and reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on October 1, 2010 in PsychCentral

New research has discovered that when there is an abnormal relationship between dopamine and glutamate — two signaling chemicals in the brain — the result is often psychosis.

Previously, drug treatment of severe psychosis involved focusing on dopamine inhibition.  However, new research has linked psychosis to a dysfunction between the brain chemicals dopamine AND glutamate.  Hopefully this new connection will shed light on potential treatment options.  Schizophrenia is a mental disorder which can cause visual and audio hallucinations.  According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), schizophrenia affects a little over 1% of the population and usually starts in the late twenties/early thirties.  Check out the NIMH site! It has great resources for signs/symptoms, medical advancements, links to podcasts, and information about initial care after the first schizophrenic episode.

Movie Spoilers ahead:

Media/Movies have highlighted schizophrenia and psychosis.  The Messenger, the movie about Joan of Arc, took the perspective of implying a mental illness.  A Beautiful Mind, involves genius/hallucinations/ and schizophrenia.  Recently the movie Shutter Island discussed psychosis and the limits of the mind as well as person-centered versus pharmaceutical treatment and philosophy. (Image from the movie A Beautiful Mind.  Click the image to go to the imdb site.)

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2 Responses to “Glutamate, Dopamine & Schizophrenia”

  1. thypolarlife October 2, 2010 at 2:28 PM #

    Great post. I loved the movie A Beautiful Mind and Shutter Island wasn’t half bad either. I recently watched a Discovery Health special on a little girl named January Schofield, one of the youngest diagnosed schizophrenics, and found it extremely interesting and very educational. Hopefully the new connection discovered between dopamine and glutamate will be beneficial to her family.

    • coffeecounsel October 2, 2010 at 2:33 PM #

      I too hope this new approach is successful with her family and others.:) The problem is we don’t “know” what causes schizophrenia. It’s hard to fix a problem when we don’t know what the problem is, and unfortunately medications to date have caused more side-effects/long-term issues than the disorder treated. I think we watched the same documentary:)

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