The Voices of Schizophrenia and the Potential in the Pipeline

The Voices of Schizophrenia and the Potential in the Pipeline

07.15.14 | By Preet Bilinski

A recent CNN segment titled “Exercise in Empathy: Hearing Voices,” featured Anderson Cooper learning what it may feel like to have schizophrenia.

Around 2.4 million American adults have schizophrenia each year and onset can be caused by a combination of genetic predisposition and external stressors. The schizophrenia simulator used in the video was developed by clinical psychologist Pat Deegan, a schizophrenia patient herself, in an effort to give a glimpse into the life of people living with this mental illness.

The voices varied in volume and content and occurred at random times throughout the 45 minute exercise. Cooper found it extremely difficult to focus on and even complete many everyday tasks and regarded it overall as an isolating experience.

Mental illness often makes headlines and considering one in four American adults – or 61.5 million people – have been diagnosed with a mental disorder, it’s an extremely important topic. Mental health continues to challenge scientists and doctors, but as research advances, we are getting closer to understanding these complex disorders.

The biopharmaceutical pipeline shows 119 medicines in development, according to the Medicines in Development for Mental Health report, to help patients battling these diseases. Continuing development of effective treatments for mental disorders is difficult for a variety of reasons. Accurate diagnosis is often complicated, as is monitoring disease progression and understanding how current medicines work.

Several of the medicines currently in development for schizophrenia are inhibitors of a subtype of an enzyme that is a key regulator of signaling the brain. These new treatments mirror the effects of current ones, while also activating receptors that may reduce side effects and have positive effects on cognition. 

The report also includes potential medicines in development for other illnesses including depression, Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and even cocaine addiction. Progressive new treatments offer increased options for patients while improving their quality of life by minimizing side effects and reducing dosage frequency.

The video from CNN raises awareness for mental disorders, while giving all of us an insight into how difficult these illnesses can be to live with. Through raised awareness, understanding and research we can continue to improve the lives of so many Americans who face mental illness on a daily basis.

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