Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Having One Mental Health Disorder Increases Your Risks of Getting Another

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Having One Mental Health Disorder Increases Your Risks of Getting Another

Article excerpt

Having one mental health disorder increases your risks of getting another

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This article was originally published on The Conversation, an independent and nonprofit source of news, analysis and commentary from academic experts. Disclosure information is available on the original site.

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Authors: Christine Bear, Professor, Faculty of Medicine, Fellow of the Munk School of Global Journalism, University of Toronto; Anne Bassett, Professor of Psychiatry, University of Toronto, and Stephen W. Scherer, Director, McLaughlin Centre for Molecular Medicine, University of Toronto

New studies reveal that most psychiatric illnesses are related to one another. Tracing these connections, like the mapping of a river system, promises to help define the main cause of these disorders and the drugs that could alleviate their symptoms.

The Danish Psychiatric Central Research Register is an enormous treasure trove of clinical data documenting every hospitalization for mental illness in Denmark over the course of 16 years.

In a recent study published in January 2019,

Oleguer Plana-Ripoll from Aarhus University in Denmark and his colleagues analyzed records from close to six million Danes. They found that being affected with one mental disorder increased the risk of developing another -- pointing to their possible relatedness.

For example, when young women were diagnosed with a mood disorder such as depression before age 20, they had a high risk of developing another disorder such as obsessive-compulsive disorder within the next five years.

The authors provided an interactive web-based tool to help clinicians and researchers see the connections among all types of psychiatric illness in the NB-COMO project.

A canary in the psychiatric coalmine

This clinical study followed on the heels of a paper published in Science magazine last year by the large international collaborative group called the Brainstorm Consortium.

Using new statistical methods, these researchers showed that there is a surprising connectivity among people with different mental illnesses at the level of their inherited, genetic backgrounds.

They studied a quarter of a million patients and found there was a core cluster of similar genetic variations that showed up in all patients, regardless of the kind of illness they were diagnosed with.

This cluster heralded an increased risk for most disorders and, like a canary in the coalmine, constituted a warning system for the future risk of any psychiatric disorder including major depressive disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

A common disturbance in fetal development

In March 2019, Andrew Schork and colleagues of the Institute of Biological Psychiatry in Denmark published a paper in Nature Neuroscience. …

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