What is Paraphrenia?

Introduction

Paraphrenia is a mental disorder characterised by an organised system of paranoid delusions with or without hallucinations (the positive symptoms of schizophrenia) and without deterioration of intellect or personality (its negative symptom).

This disorder is also distinguished from schizophrenia by a lower hereditary occurrence, less premorbid maladjustment, and a slower rate of progression. Onset of symptoms generally occurs later in life, near the age of 60. The prevalence of the disorder among the elderly is between 0.1% and 4%.

Paraphrenia is not included in the DSM-5; psychiatrists often diagnose patients presenting with paraphrenia as having atypical psychosis, delusional disorder, psychosis not otherwise specified, schizoaffective disorders, and persistent persecutory states of older adults. Recently, mental health professionals have also been classifying paraphrenia as very late-onset schizophrenia-like psychosis.

In the Russian psychiatric manuals, paraphrenia (or paraphrenic syndrome) is the last stage of development of paranoid schizophrenia. “Systematised paraphrenia” (with systematised delusions i. e. delusions with complex logical structure) and “expansive-paranoid paraphrenia” (with expansive/grandiose delusions and persecutory delusions) are the variants of paranoid schizophrenia (F20.0). Sometimes systematised paraphrenia can be seen with delusional disorder (F22.0). The word is from Ancient Greek: παρά – beside, near + φρήν – intellect, mind.

Brief History

The term paraphrenia was originally popularised by Karl Ludwig Kahlbaum in 1863 to describe the tendency of certain psychiatric disorders to occur during certain transitional periods in life (describing paraphrenia hebetica as the insanity of the adolescence and paraphrenia senilis as the insanity of the elders.

The term was also used by Sigmund Freud for a short time starting in 1911 as an alternative to the terms schizophrenia and dementia praecox, which in his estimation did not correctly identify the underlying condition, and by Emil Kraepelin in 1912/1913, who changed its meaning to describe paraphrenia as it is understood today, as a small group of individuals that have many of the symptoms of schizophrenia with a lack of deterioration and thought disorder. Kraepelin’s study was discredited by Wilhelm Mayer in 1921 when he conducted a follow-up study using Kraepelin’s data. His study suggested that there was little to no discrimination between schizophrenia and paraphrenia; given enough time, patients presenting with paraphrenia will merge into the schizophrenic pool. However, Meyer’s data are open to various interpretations. In 1952, Roth and Morrissey conducted a large study in which they surveyed the mental hospital admissions of older patients. They characterised patients as having:

“paraphrenic delusions which… occurred in each case in the setting of a well-preserved intellect and personality, were often ‘primary’ in character, and were usually associated with the passivity failings or other volitional disturbances and hallucinations in clear consciousness pathognomonic of schizophrenia”.

In recent medicine, the term paraphrenia has been replaced by the diagnosis of “very late-onset schizophrenia-like psychosis” and has also been called “atypical psychoses, delusional disorder, psychoses not otherwise specified, schizoaffective disorders, and persistent persecutory states of older adults” by psychotherapists.[4] Current studies, however, recognize the condition as “a viable diagnostic entity that is distinct from schizophrenia, with organic factors playing a role in a significant portion of patients.”[4]

Signs and Symptoms

The main symptoms of paraphrenia are paranoid delusions and hallucinations. The delusions often involve the individual being the subject of persecution, although they can also be erotic, hypochondriacal, or grandiose in nature. The majority of hallucinations associated with paraphrenia are auditory, with 75% of patients reporting such an experience; however, visual, tactile, and olfactory hallucinations have also been reported. The paranoia and hallucinations can combine in the form of “threatening or accusatory voices coming from neighbouring houses [and] are frequently reported by the patients as disturbing and undeserved”. Patients also present with a lack of symptoms commonly found in other mental disorders similar to paraphrenia. There is no significant deterioration of intellect, personality, or habits and patients often remain clean and mostly self-sufficient. Patients also remain oriented well in time and space.

Paraphrenia is different from schizophrenia because, while both disorders result in delusions and hallucinations, individuals with schizophrenia exhibit changes and deterioration of personality whereas individuals with paraphrenia maintain a well-preserved personality and affective response.

Causes

Neurological

Paraphrenia is often associated with a physical change in the brain, such as a tumour, stroke, ventricular enlargement, or neurodegenerative process. Research that reviewed the relationship between organic brain lesions and the development of delusions suggested that “brain lesions which lead to subcortical dysfunction could produce delusions when elaborated by an intact cortex”.

Predisposing Factors

Many patients who present with paraphrenia have significant auditory or visual loss, are socially isolated with a lack of social contact, do not have a permanent home, are unmarried and without children, and have maladaptive personality traits. While these factors do not cause paraphrenia, they do make individuals more likely to develop the disorder later in life.

Diagnosis

While the diagnosis of paraphrenia is absent from recent revisions of the DSM and the ICD, many studies have recognised the condition as “a viable diagnostic entity that is distinct from schizophrenia, with organic factors playing a role in a significant portion of patients.” As such, paraphrenia is seen as being distinct from both schizophrenia and progressive dementia in old age. Ravindran (1999) developed a list of criteria for the diagnosis of paraphrenia, which agrees with much of the research done up to the time it was published.

  1. A delusional disorder of at least six months duration characterized by the following:
    1. Preoccupation with one or more semi-systematised delusions, often accompanied by auditory hallucinations.
    2. Affect notably well-preserved and appropriate. Ability to maintain rapport with others.
    3. None of:
      1. Intellectual deterioration.
      2. Visual hallucinations.
      3. Incoherence.
      4. Flat or grossly inappropriate affect.
      5. Grossly disorganised behaviour at times other than during the acute episode.
    4. Disturbance of behaviour understandable in relation to the content of the delusions and hallucinations.
    5. Only partly meets criterion A for schizophrenia. No significant organic brain disorder.

Management

Research suggests that paraphrenics respond well to antipsychotic drug therapy if doctors can successfully achieve sufficient compliance. Herbert found that Stelazine combined with Disipal was an effective treatment. It promoted the discharging of patients and kept discharged patients from being readmitted later. While behaviour therapy may help patients reduce their preoccupation with delusions, psychotherapy is not currently of primary value.

Prognosis

Individuals who develop paraphrenia have a life expectancy similar to the normal population. Recovery from the psychotic symptoms seems to be rare, and in most cases paraphrenia results in in-patient status for the remainder of the life of the patient. Patients experience a slow deterioration of cognitive functions and the disorder can lead to dementia in some cases, but this development is no greater than the normal population.

Epidemiology

Studies suggest that the prevalence of paraphrenia in the elderly population is around 2-4%.

Sex Differences

While paraphrenia can occur in both men and women, it is more common in women, even after the difference has been adjusted for life expectancies. The ratio of women with paraphrenia to men with paraphrenia is anywhere from 3:1 to 45:2.

Age

It is seen mainly in patients over the age of 60, but has been known to occur in patients in their 40s and 50s.

Personality Type and Living Situation

It is suggested that individuals who develop paraphrenia later in life have premorbid personalities, and can be described as “quarrelsome, religious, suspicious or sensitive, unsociable and cold-hearted.” Many patients were also described as being solitary, eccentric, isolated and difficult individuals; these characteristics were also long-standing rather than introduced by the disorder. Most of the traits recognised prior to the onset of paraphrenia in individuals can be grouped as either paranoid or schizoid. Patients presenting with paraphrenia were most often found to be living by themselves (either single, widowed, or divorced). There have also been reports of low marriage rate among paraphrenics and these individuals also have few or no children (possibly because of this premorbid personality).

Physical Factors

The development of paranoia and hallucinations in old age have been related to both auditory and visual impairment, and individuals with paraphrenia often present with one or both of these impairments. Hearing loss in paraphrenics is associated with early age of onset, long duration, and profound auditory loss.

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What is Schizophrenics Anonymous?

Introduction

Schizophrenics Anonymous is a peer support group to help people who are affected by schizophrenia and related disorders including bipolar disorder, schizoaffective disorder, psychotic depression and psychosis.

Brief History

The programme was established in Detroit in 1985. The founder was Joanne Verbanic, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 1970. Shortly before forming SA, Verbanic publicly disclosed her diagnosis and discussed her illness on national television in an effort to challenge the stigma associated with the condition. She was a 2006 recipient of a Lilly Reintegration Award in recognition of her lifetime contributions to the mental health community, and she continued to be active as a spokesperson for persons with schizophrenia and other mental illness until her death on 07 May 2015.

By 2007, more than 150 local SA groups operated in 31 of the 50 United States, and in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, France, India and Venezuela.

Technical support for Schizophrenics Anonymous was provided by the National Schizophrenia Foundation (NSF) until 2007 when NSF ceased operations. In response to the loss of a national sponsor, a group of consumers, family members, and mental health providers came together to form a not-for-profit organisation, Schizophrenia and Related Disorders Alliance of America (SARDAA).

SARDAA promotes recovery for persons with schizophrenia and related brain disorders including bipolar disorder, schizoaffective disorder, depression with psychosis, and experience with psychosis. They envision a future in which every person with a schizophrenia-related brain disorder has the opportunity to recover from their disorders. The name Schizophrenics Anonymous was changed to Schizophrenia Alliance in 2015 and added Psychosis Support and Acceptance in 2018. They provide an online directory of SA groups, sponsor five weekly SA conference calls, and one Family and Friends conference call. At their annual conference, the group trains individuals and groups who have started or would like to start an SA group.

Although some SA groups are organised by mental health professionals, research has suggested that peer-led SA groups are more sustainable and longer lasting. Some groups are organised in psychiatric hospitals or jails and are not open to the public.

Programme Principles

The SA programme is based on the twelve-step model, but includes just six steps. The organisation describes the programme’s purpose of helping participants to learn about schizophrenia, “restore dignity and sense of purpose,” obtain “fellowship, positive support, and companionship,” improve their attitudes about their lives and their illnesses, and take “positive steps towards recovery.”

Joanne Verbanic wrote the original “Schizophrenics Anonymous” book, better known as “The Blue Book,” which describes the six steps to recovery. The steps require members to admit they need help, take responsibility for their choices and consequences, believe they have the inner strength to help themselves and others, forgive themselves and others, understand that false beliefs contribute to their problems and change those beliefs, and decide to turn their lives over to a higher power.

Research

One study about the risks of professional partnerships centres on the partnership between Schizophrenics Anonymous (SA) and the Mental Health Association of Michigan (MHAM) over a 14-year period. The study shows that the professional partnership resulted in increased access to SA Groups across Michigan and organisation expansion and development within SA. The professional influence also lead more SA Groups to be held in more traditional mental health treatment settings and led to more professional-led SA groups.

Self-help groups are more available to people who live independently. Researchers at Michigan State University studied whether SA would be successful in group homes. The results were positive: the groups had high attendance and participation and were well liked. However, staff members controlled who could lead and who could attend the meetings, and how the meetings should be run. The programs fell apart. The same obstacle occurred in SA groups started in prisons and monitored by employees.

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What is Persecutory Delusion?

Introduction

Persecutory delusions are a set of delusional conditions in which the affected persons believe they are being persecuted, despite a lack of evidence.

Background

Specifically, they have been defined as containing two central elements:

  • The individual thinks that harm is occurring, or is going to occur.
  • The individual thinks that the perceived persecutor has the intention to cause harm.

According to the DSM-IV-TR, persecutory delusions are the most common form of delusions in paranoid schizophrenia, where the person believes “he or she is being tormented, followed, tricked, spied on, or ridiculed”, or that their food is being poisoned. They are also often seen in schizoaffective disorder and, as recognised by DSM-IV-TR, constitute the cardinal feature of the persecutory subtype of delusional disorder, by far the most common.

Delusions of persecution may also appear in manic and mixed episodes of bipolar disorder, polysubstance abuse, and severe depressive episodes with psychotic features, particularly when associated with bipolar illness.

Prevalence

A 2020 study by Sheridan and colleagues gave figures for lifetime prevalence of perceived stalking by groups, a common form of persecutory delusion, at 0.66% for adult women and 0.17% for adult men.

When the focus is to remedy some injustice by legal action, persecutory delusions are sometimes termed “querulous paranoia”.

In cases where reporters of stalking behaviour have been judged to be making false reports, a majority of them were judged to be delusional.

Treatment

Medications for schizophrenia are often used, especially when positive symptoms are present. Both first-generation antipsychotics and second-generation antipsychotics may be useful. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) has also been used.

What is Mania?

Introduction

Mania, also known as manic syndrome, is a mental and behavioural disorder defined as a state of abnormally elevated arousal, affect, and energy level, or “a state of heightened overall activation with enhanced affective expression together with lability of affect.”

During a manic episode, an individual will experience rapidly changing emotions and moods, highly influenced by surrounding stimuli. Although mania is often conceived as a “mirror image” to depression, the heightened mood can be either euphoric or dysphoric. As the mania intensifies, irritability can be more pronounced and result in anxiety or anger.

The symptoms of mania include elevated mood (either euphoric or irritable), flight of ideas and pressure of speech, increased energy, decreased need and desire for sleep, and hyperactivity. They are most plainly evident in fully developed hypomanic states. However, in full-blown mania, they undergo progressively severe exacerbations and become more and more obscured by other signs and symptoms, such as delusions and fragmentation of behaviour.

Refer to Bipolar I Disorder, Bipolar II Disorder, and Mixed Affective State.

Etymology

The nosology of the various stages of a manic episode has changed over the decades. The word derives from the Ancient Greek μανία (manía), “madness, frenzy” and the verb μαίνομαι (maínomai), “to be mad, to rage, to be furious”.

Causes and Diagnosis

Mania is a syndrome with multiple causes. Although the vast majority of cases occur in the context of bipolar disorder, it is a key component of other psychiatric disorders (such as schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type) and may also occur secondary to various general medical conditions, such as multiple sclerosis; certain medications may perpetuate a manic state, for example prednisone; or substances prone to abuse, especially stimulants, such as caffeine and cocaine. In the current DSM-5, hypomanic episodes are separated from the more severe full manic episodes, which, in turn, are characterised as either mild, moderate, or severe, with certain diagnostic criteria (e.g. catatonia, psychosis). Mania is divided into three stages:

  • Hypomania, or stage I;
  • Acute mania, or stage II; and
  • Delirious mania (delirium), or stage III.

This “staging” of a manic episode is useful from a descriptive and differential diagnostic point of view.

Mania varies in intensity, from mild mania (hypomania) to delirious mania, marked by such symptoms as disorientation, florid psychosis, incoherence, and catatonia. Standardised tools such as Altman Self-Rating Mania Scale and Young Mania Rating Scale can be used to measure severity of manic episodes. Because mania and hypomania have also long been associated with creativity and artistic talent, it is not always the case that the clearly manic/hypomanic bipolar patient needs or wants medical help; such persons often either retain sufficient self-control to function normally or are unaware that they have “gone manic” severely enough to be committed or to commit themselves. Manic persons often can be mistaken for being under the influence of drugs.

Classification

Mixed States

Refer to Mixed Affective State.

In a mixed affective state, the individual, though meeting the general criteria for a hypomanic (discussed below) or manic episode, experiences three or more concurrent depressive symptoms. This has caused some speculation, among clinicians, that mania and depression, rather than constituting “true” polar opposites, are, rather, two independent axes in a unipolar – bipolar spectrum.

A mixed affective state, especially with prominent manic symptoms, places the patient at a greater risk for suicide. Depression on its own is a risk factor but, when coupled with an increase in energy and goal-directed activity, the patient is far more likely to act with violence on suicidal impulses.

Hypomania

Refer to Hypomania.

Hypomania, which means “less than mania”, is a lowered state of mania that does little to impair function or decrease quality of life. It may, in fact, increase productivity and creativity. In hypomania, there is less need for sleep and both goal-motivated behaviour and metabolism increase. Some studies exploring brain metabolism in subjects with hypomania, however, did not find any conclusive link; while there are studies that reported abnormalities, some failed to detect differences. Though the elevated mood and energy level typical of hypomania could be seen as a benefit, true mania itself generally has many undesirable consequences including suicidal tendencies, and hypomania can, if the prominent mood is irritable as opposed to euphoric, be a rather unpleasant experience. In addition, the exaggerated case of hypomania can lead to problems. For instance, trait-based positivity for a person could make them more engaging and outgoing, and cause them to have a positive outlook in life. When exaggerated in hypomania, however, such a person can display excessive optimism, grandiosity, and poor decision making, often with little regard to the consequences.

Associated Disorders

A single manic episode, in the absence of secondary causes, (i.e. substance use disorders, pharmacologics, or general medical conditions) is often sufficient to diagnose bipolar I disorder. Hypomania may be indicative of bipolar II disorder. Manic episodes are often complicated by delusions and/or hallucinations; and if the psychotic features persist for a duration significantly longer than the episode of typical mania (two weeks or more), a diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder is more appropriate. Certain obsessive-compulsive spectrum disorders as well as impulse control disorders share the suffix “-mania,” namely, kleptomania, pyromania, and trichotillomania. Despite the unfortunate association implied by the name, however, no connection exists between mania or bipolar disorder and these disorders. Furthermore, evidence indicates a B12 deficiency can also cause symptoms characteristic of mania and psychosis.

Hyperthyroidism can produce similar symptoms to those of mania, such as agitation, elevated mood, increased energy, hyperactivity, sleep disturbances and sometimes, especially in severe cases, psychosis.

Signs and Symptoms

A manic episode is defined in the American Psychiatric Association’s diagnostic manual as a “distinct period of abnormally and persistently elevated, expansive, or irritable mood and abnormally and persistently increased activity or energy, lasting at least 1 week and present most of the day, nearly every day (or any duration, if hospitalisation is necessary),” where the mood is not caused by drugs/medication or a non-mental medical illness (e.g. hyperthyroidism), and: (a) is causing obvious difficulties at work or in social relationships and activities, or (b) requires admission to hospital to protect the person or others, or (c) the person is suffering psychosis.

To be classified as a manic episode, while the disturbed mood and an increase in goal-directed activity or energy is present, at least three (or four, if only irritability is present) of the following must have been consistently present:

  • Inflated self-esteem or grandiosity.
  • Decreased need for sleep (e.g. feels rested after 3 hours of sleep).
  • More talkative than usual, or acts pressured to keep talking.
  • Flights of ideas or subjective experience that thoughts are racing.
  • Increase in goal-directed activity, or psychomotor acceleration.
  • Distractibility (too easily drawn to unimportant or irrelevant external stimuli).
  • Excessive involvement in activities with a high likelihood of painful consequences.(e.g. extravagant shopping, improbable commercial schemes, hypersexuality).

Though the activities one participates in while in a manic state are not always negative, those with the potential to have negative outcomes are far more likely.

If the person is concurrently depressed, they are said to be having a mixed episode.

The World Health Organisation’s classification system defines a manic episode as one where mood is higher than the person’s situation warrants and may vary from relaxed high spirits to barely controllable exuberance, is accompanied by hyperactivity, a compulsion to speak, a reduced sleep requirement, difficulty sustaining attention, and/or often increased distractibility. Frequently, confidence and self-esteem are excessively enlarged, and grand, extravagant ideas are expressed. Behaviour that is out-of-character and risky, foolish or inappropriate may result from a loss of normal social restraint.

Some people also have physical symptoms, such as sweating, pacing, and weight loss. In full-blown mania, often the manic person will feel as though their goal(s) are of paramount importance, that there are no consequences, or that negative consequences would be minimal, and that they need not exercise restraint in the pursuit of what they are after. Hypomania is different, as it may cause little or no impairment in function. The hypomanic person’s connection with the external world, and its standards of interaction, remain intact, although intensity of moods is heightened. But those who suffer from prolonged unresolved hypomania do run the risk of developing full mania, and may cross that “line” without even realising they have done so.

One of the signature symptoms of mania (and to a lesser extent, hypomania) is what many have described as racing thoughts. These are usually instances in which the manic person is excessively distracted by objectively unimportant stimuli. This experience creates an absent-mindedness where the manic individual’s thoughts totally preoccupy them, making them unable to keep track of time, or be aware of anything besides the flow of thoughts. Racing thoughts also interfere with the ability to fall asleep.

Manic states are always relative to the normal state of intensity of the afflicted individual; thus, already irritable patients may find themselves losing their tempers even more quickly, and an academically gifted person may, during the hypomanic stage, adopt seemingly “genius” characteristics and an ability to perform and articulate at a level far beyond that which they would be capable of during euthymia. A very simple indicator of a manic state would be if a heretofore clinically depressed patient suddenly becomes inordinately energetic, enthusiastic, cheerful, aggressive, or “over-happy”. Other, often less obvious, elements of mania include delusions (generally of either grandeur or persecution, according to whether the predominant mood is euphoric or irritable), hypersensitivity, hypervigilance, hypersexuality, hyper-religiosity, hyperactivity and impulsivity, a compulsion to over explain (typically accompanied by pressure of speech), grandiose schemes and ideas, and a decreased need for sleep (for example, feeling rested after only 3 or 4 hours of sleep). In the case of the latter, the eyes of such patients may both look and seem abnormally “wide open”, rarely blinking, and may contribute to some clinicians’ erroneous belief that these patients are under the influence of a stimulant drug, when the patient, in fact, is either not on any mind-altering substances or is actually on a depressant drug. Individuals may also engage in out-of-character behaviour during the episode, such as questionable business transactions, wasteful expenditures of money (e.g. spending sprees), risky sexual activity, abuse of recreational substances, excessive gambling, reckless behaviour (such as extreme speeding or other daredevil activity), abnormal social interaction (e.g. over-familiarity and conversing with strangers), or highly vocal arguments. These behaviours may increase stress in personal relationships, lead to problems at work, and increase the risk of altercations with law enforcement. There is a high risk of impulsively taking part in activities potentially harmful to the self and others.

Although “severely elevated mood” sounds somewhat desirable and enjoyable, the experience of mania is ultimately often quite unpleasant and sometimes disturbing, if not frightening, for the person involved and for those close to them, and it may lead to impulsive behaviour that may later be regretted. It can also often be complicated by the sufferer’s lack of judgment and insight regarding periods of exacerbation of characteristic states. Manic patients are frequently grandiose, obsessive, impulsive, irritable, belligerent, and frequently deny anything is wrong with them. Because mania frequently encourages high energy and decreased perception of need or ability to sleep, within a few days of a manic cycle, sleep-deprived psychosis may appear, further complicating the ability to think clearly. Racing thoughts and misperceptions lead to frustration and decreased ability to communicate with others.

Mania may also, as earlier mentioned, be divided into three “stages”. Stage I corresponds with hypomania and may feature typical hypomanic characteristics, such as gregariousness and euphoria. In stages II and III mania, however, the patient may be extraordinarily irritable, psychotic or even delirious. These latter two stages are referred to as acute and delirious (or Bell’s), respectively.

Cause

Various triggers have been associated with switching from euthymic or depressed states into mania. One common trigger of mania is antidepressant therapy. Studies show that the risk of switching while on an antidepressant is between 6-69%. Dopaminergic drugs such as reuptake inhibitors and dopamine agonists may also increase risk of switch. Other medication possibly include glutaminergic agents and drugs that alter the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. Lifestyle triggers include irregular sleep-wake schedules and sleep deprivation, as well as extremely emotional or stressful stimuli.

Various genes that have been implicated in genetic studies of bipolar have been manipulated in preclinical animal models to produce syndromes reflecting different aspects of mania. CLOCK and DBP polymorphisms have been linked to bipolar in population studies, and behavioural changes induced by knockout are reversed by lithium treatment. Metabotropic glutamate receptor 6 has been genetically linked to bipolar, and found to be under-expressed in the cortex. Pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating peptide has been associated with bipolar in gene linkage studies, and knockout in mice produces mania like-behaviour. Targets of various treatments such as GSK-3, and ERK1 have also demonstrated mania like behaviour in preclinical models.

Mania may be associated with strokes, especially cerebral lesions in the right hemisphere.

Deep brain stimulation of the subthalamic nucleus in Parkinson’s disease has been associated with mania, especially with electrodes placed in the ventromedial STN. A proposed mechanism involves increased excitatory input from the STN to dopaminergic nuclei.

Mania can also be caused by physical trauma or illness. When the causes are physical, it is called secondary mania.

Mechanism

Refer to Biology of Bipolar Disorder.

The mechanism underlying mania is unknown, but the neurocognitive profile of mania is highly consistent with dysfunction in the right prefrontal cortex, a common finding in neuroimaging studies. Various lines of evidence from post-mortem studies and the putative mechanisms of anti-manic agents point to abnormalities in GSK-3, dopamine, Protein kinase C and Inositol monophosphatase.

Meta analysis of neuroimaging studies demonstrate increased thalamic activity, and bilaterally reduced inferior frontal gyrus activation. Activity in the amygdala and other subcortical structures such as the ventral striatum tend to be increased, although results are inconsistent and likely dependent upon task characteristics such as valence. Reduced functional connectivity between the ventral prefrontal cortex and amygdala along with variable findings supports a hypothesis of general dysregulation of subcortical structures by the prefrontal cortex. A bias towards positively valenced stimuli, and increased responsiveness in reward circuitry may predispose towards mania. Mania tends to be associated with right hemisphere lesions, while depression tends to be associated with left hemisphere lesions.

Post-mortem examinations of bipolar disorder demonstrate increased expression of Protein Kinase C (PKC). While limited, some studies demonstrate manipulation of PKC in animals produces behavioural changes mirroring mania, and treatment with PKC inhibitor tamoxifen (also an anti-oestrogen drug) demonstrates antimanic effects. Traditional antimanic drugs also demonstrate PKC inhibiting properties, among other effects such as GSK3 inhibition.

Manic episodes may be triggered by dopamine receptor agonists, and this combined with tentative reports of increased VMAT2 activity, measured via PET scans of radioligand binding, suggests a role of dopamine in mania. Decreased cerebrospinal fluid levels of the serotonin metabolite 5-HIAA have been found in manic patients too, which may be explained by a failure of serotonergic regulation and dopaminergic hyperactivity.

Limited evidence suggests that mania is associated with behavioural reward hypersensitivity, as well as with neural reward hypersensitivity. Electrophysiological evidence supporting this comes from studies associating left frontal EEG activity with mania. As left frontal EEG activity is generally thought to be a reflection of behavioural activation system activity, this is thought to support a role for reward hypersensitivity in mania. Tentative evidence also comes from one study that reported an association between manic traits and feedback negativity during receipt of monetary reward or loss. Neuroimaging evidence during acute mania is sparse, but one study reported elevated orbitofrontal cortex activity to monetary reward, and another study reported elevated striatal activity to reward omission. The latter finding was interpreted in the context of either elevated baseline activity (resulting in a null finding of reward hypersensitivity), or reduced ability to discriminate between reward and punishment, still supporting reward hyperactivity in mania. Punishment hyposensitivity, as reflected in a number of neuroimaging studies as reduced lateral orbitofrontal response to punishment, has been proposed as a mechanism of reward hypersensitivity in mania.

Diagnosis

In the ICD-10 there are several disorders with the manic syndrome:

  • Organic manic disorder (F06.30).
  • Mania without psychotic symptoms (F30.1).
  • Mania with psychotic symptoms (F30.2).
  • Other manic episodes (F30.8).
  • Unspecified manic episode (F30.9).
  • Manic type of schizoaffective disorder (F25.0).
  • Bipolar affective disorder, current episode manic without psychotic symptoms (F31.1).
  • Bipolar affective disorder, current episode manic with psychotic symptoms (F31.2).

Treatment

Before beginning treatment for mania, careful differential diagnosis must be performed to rule out secondary causes.

The acute treatment of a manic episode of bipolar disorder involves the utilisation of either a mood stabiliser (Carbamazepine, valproate, lithium, or lamotrigine) or an atypical antipsychotic (olanzapine, quetiapine, risperidone, or aripiprazole). The use of antipsychotic agents in the treatment of acute mania was reviewed by Tohen and Vieta in 2009.

When the manic behaviours have gone, long-term treatment then focuses on prophylactic treatment to try to stabilise the patient’s mood, typically through a combination of pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy. The likelihood of having a relapse is very high for those who have experienced two or more episodes of mania or depression. While medication for bipolar disorder is important to manage symptoms of mania and depression, studies show relying on medications alone is not the most effective method of treatment. Medication is most effective when used in combination with other bipolar disorder treatments, including psychotherapy, self-help coping strategies, and healthy lifestyle choices.

Lithium is the classic mood stabiliser to prevent further manic and depressive episodes. A systematic review found that long term lithium treatment substantially reduces the risk of bipolar manic relapse, by 42%. Anticonvulsants such as valproate, oxcarbazepine and carbamazepine are also used for prophylaxis. More recent drug solutions include lamotrigine and topiramate, both anticonvulsants as well.

In some cases, long-acting benzodiazepines, particularly clonazepam, are used after other options are exhausted. In more urgent circumstances, such as in emergency rooms, lorazepam, combined with haloperidol, is used to promptly alleviate symptoms of agitation, aggression, and psychosis.

Antidepressant monotherapy is not recommended for the treatment of depression in patients with bipolar disorders I or II, and no benefit has been demonstrated by combining antidepressants with mood stabilisers in these patients. Some atypical antidepressants, however, such as mirtazepine and trazodone have been occasionally used after other options have failed.

Society and Culture

In Electroboy: A Memoir of Mania by Andy Behrman, he describes his experience of mania as “the most perfect prescription glasses with which to see the world… life appears in front of you like an oversized movie screen”. Behrman indicates early in his memoir that he sees himself not as a person suffering from an uncontrollable disabling illness, but as a director of the movie that is his vivid and emotionally alive life. There is some evidence that people in the creative industries suffer from bipolar disorder more often than those in other occupations. Winston Churchill had periods of manic symptoms that may have been both an asset and a liability.

English actor Stephen Fry, who suffers from bipolar disorder, recounts manic behaviour during his adolescence: “When I was about 17 … going around London on two stolen credit cards, it was a sort of fantastic reinvention of myself, an attempt to. I bought ridiculous suits with stiff collars and silk ties from the 1920s, and would go to the Savoy and Ritz and drink cocktails.” While he has experienced suicidal thoughts, he says the manic side of his condition has had positive contributions on his life.

What is Paliperidone?

Introduction

Paliperidone, sold under the trade name Invega among others, is an atypical antipsychotic. It is mainly used to treat schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder.

It is marketed by Janssen Pharmaceuticals. An extended release formulation is available that uses the OROS extended release system to allow for once-daily dosing. Paliperidone palmitate is a long-acting injectable formulation of paliperidone palmitoyl ester.

It is on the World Health Organisation’s List of Essential Medicines.

Brief History

Paliperidone (as Invega) was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of schizophrenia in 2006. Paliperidone was approved by the FDA for the treatment of schizoaffective disorder in 2009. The long-acting injectable form of paliperidone, marketed as Invega Sustenna in US and Xeplion in Europe, was approved by the FDA on 31 July 2009. It is the only available brand in Bangladesh under the brand name “Palimax ER” manufactured & marketed by ACI Pharmaceuticals.

It was initially approved in Europe in 2007 for schizophrenia, the extended release form and use for schizoaffective disorder were approved in Europe in 2010, and extension to use in adolescents older than 15 years old was approved in 2014.

Medical Uses

It is used for the treatment of schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder.

Adverse Effects

  • Very Common (>10% incidence):
    • Headache.
    • Tachycardia.
    • Somnolence (causes less sedation than most atypical antipsychotics).
    • Insomnia.
    • Hyperprolactinaemia (seems to cause comparable prolactin elevation to its parent drug, risperidone).
    • Sexual Dysfunction.
  • Common (1-10% incidence):
    • Cough.
    • Extrapyramidal side effects (EPSE; e.g. dystonia, akathisia, muscle rigidity, parkinsonism. It appears to produce similar EPSE to risperidone, asenapine and ziprasidone and more EPSE than olanzapine, clozapine, aripiprazole, quetiapine, amisulpride and sertindole).
    • Orthostatic hypotension.
    • Weight gain (tends to produce a moderate degree of weight gain, possibly related to its potent blockade of the 5-HT2C receptor).
    • QT interval prolongation (tends to produce less QT interval prolongation than most other atypical antipsychotics and approximately as much QT interval prolongation as aripiprazole and lurasidone).
    • Nasopharyngitis.
    • Anxiety.
    • Indigestion.
    • Constipation.

Discontinuation

The British National Formulary recommends a gradual withdrawal when discontinuing antipsychotics to avoid acute withdrawal syndrome or rapid relapse. Symptoms of withdrawal commonly include nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite. Other symptoms may include restlessness, increased sweating, and trouble sleeping. Less commonly there may be a feeling of the world spinning, numbness, or muscle pains. Symptoms generally resolve after a short period of time.

There is tentative evidence that discontinuation of antipsychotics can result in psychosis. It may also result in reoccurrence of the condition that is being treated. Rarely tardive dyskinesia can occur when the medication is stopped.

Deaths

In April 2014, it was reported that 21 Japanese people who had received shots of the long-acting injectable paliperidone to date had died, out of 10,700 individuals prescribed the drug.

Pharmacology

Paliperidone is the primary active metabolite of the older antipsychotic risperidone. While its specific mechanism of action is unknown, it is believed paliperidone and risperidone act via similar, if not identical, pathways. Its efficacy is believed to result from central dopaminergic and serotonergic antagonism. Food is known to increase the absorption of Invega type ER OROS prolonged-release tablets. Food increased exposure of paliperidone by up to 50-60%, however, half-life was not significantly affected. The effect was probably due to a delay in the transit of the ER OROS formulation in the upper part of the GI channel, resulting in increased absorption.

The half-life is 23 hours.

Risperidone and its metabolite paliperidone are reduced in efficacy by P-glycoprotein inducers such as St John’s wort.

Brand Names

On 18 May 2015, a new formulation of paliperidone palmitate was approved by the FDA under the brand name Invega Trinza. A similar 3 -monthly injection of prolonged release suspension was approved in 2016 by the European Medicines Agency originally under the brand name Paliperidone Janssen, later renamed to Trevicta. On 01 September 2021, a newer formulation of paliperidone palmitate, Invega Hafyera, was approved by the FDA which is available as an injection every six months.

What are Hallucinations in Psychosis?

Introduction

Visual hallucinations in psychosis are hallucinations accompanied by delusions, which are abnormal beliefs that are endorsed by patients as real, that persist in spite of evidence to the contrary, and that are not part of a patient’s culture or subculture.

Presentation

Visual hallucinations in psychoses are reported to have physical properties similar to real perceptions. They are often life-sized, detailed, and solid, and are projected into the external world. They typically appear anchored in external space, just beyond the reach of individuals, or further away. They can have three-dimensional shapes, with depth and shadows, and distinct edges. They can be colourful or in black and white and can be static or have movement.

Simple versus Complex

Visual hallucinations may be simple, or non-formed visual hallucinations, or complex, or formed visual hallucinations.

Simple visual hallucinations are also referred to as non-formed or elementary visual hallucinations. They can take the form of multicoloured lights, colours, geometric shapes, indiscrete objects. Simple visual hallucinations without structure are known as phosphenes and those with geometric structure are known as photopsias. These hallucinations are caused by irritation to the primary visual cortex (Brodmann’s area 17).

Complex visual hallucinations are also referred to as formed visual hallucinations. They tend to be clear, lifelike images or scenes, such as faces of animals or people. Sometimes, hallucinations are ‘Lilliputian’, i.e. patients experience visual hallucinations where there are miniature people, often undertaking unusual actions. Lilliputian hallucinations may be accompanied by wonder, rather than terror.

Content

The frequency of hallucinations varies widely from rare to frequent, as does duration (seconds to minutes). The content of hallucinations varies as well. Complex (formed) visual hallucinations are more common than Simple (non-formed) visual hallucinations. In contrast to hallucinations experienced in organic conditions, hallucinations experienced as symptoms of psychoses tend to be more frightening. An example of this would be hallucinations that have imagery of bugs, dogs, snakes, distorted faces. Visual hallucinations may also be present in those with Parkinson’s, where visions of dead individuals can be present. In psychoses, this is relatively rare, although visions of God, angels, the devil, saints, and fairies are common. Individuals often report being surprised when hallucinations occur and are generally helpless to change or stop them. In general, individuals believe that visions are experienced only by themselves.

Causes

Two neurotransmitters are particularly important in visual hallucinations – serotonin and acetylcholine. They are concentrated in the visual thalamic nuclei and visual cortex.

The similarity of visual hallucinations that stem from diverse conditions suggest a common pathway for visual hallucinations. Three pathophysiologic mechanisms are thought to explain this.

The first mechanism has to do with cortical centres responsible for visual processing. Irritation of visual association cortices (Brodmann’s areas 18 and 19) cause complex visual hallucinations.

The second mechanism is deafferentation, the interruption or destruction of the afferent connections of nerve cells, of the visual system, caused by lesions, leading to the removal of normal inhibitory processes on cortical input to visual association areas, leading to complex hallucinations as a release phenomenon.

The third mechanism has to do with the reticular activating system, which plays a role in the maintenance of arousal. Lesions in the brain stem can cause visual hallucinations. Visual hallucinations are frequent in those with certain sleep disorders, occurring more often when drowsy. This suggests that the reticular activating system plays a part in visual hallucinations, although the precise mechanism has still not fully been established.

Prevalence

Hallucinations in those with psychoses are often experienced in colour, and most often are multi-modal, consisting of visual and auditory components. They frequently accompany paranoia or other thought disorders, and tend to occur during the daytime and are associated with episodes of excess excitability. The DSM-V lists visual hallucinations as a primary diagnostic criterion for several psychotic disorders, including schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder.

The lifetime prevalence of all psychotic disorders is 3.48% and that of the different diagnostic groups are as follows:

  • 0.87% for schizophrenia.
  • 0.32% for schizoaffective disorder.
  • 0.07% for schizophreniform disorder.
  • 0.18% for delusional disorder.
  • 0.24% for bipolar I disorder.
  • 0.35% for major depressive disorder with psychotic features.
  • 0.42% for substance-induced psychotic disorders.
  • 0.21% for psychotic disorders due to a general medical condition.

Visual hallucinations can occur as a symptom of the above psychotic disorders in 24% to 72% of patients at some point in the course of their illness. Not all individuals who experience hallucinations have a psychotic disorder. Many physical and psychiatric disorders can manifest with hallucinations, and some individuals may have more than one disorder that could cause different types of hallucinations.

Book: Wrestling With My Thoughts: A Doctor With Severe Mental Illness Discovers Strength

Book Title:

Wrestling With My Thoughts: A Doctor With Severe Mental Illness Discovers Strength.

Author(s): Sharon Hastings.

Year: 2020.

Edition: First (1st).

Publisher: IVP.

Type(s): Paperback and Kindle.

Synopsis:

She couldn’t believe it. There she was with her medical qualifications sitting on the floor of a mental hospital. She’d offered her life to God, wanted to serve him anywhere, but no, surely not this… Sharon Hastings is absolutely passionate about helping anyone who suffers from ‘severe and enduring mental illness’ (SEMI): schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and schizoaffective disorder. She wants the church to know all about these illnesses: how they devastate ordinary people and how they need to be treated. By telling her story, warts and all, showing her own tortuous, painful journey, she equips us to come alongside loved ones, fellow church members, friends and neighbours, understanding the social and spiritual ramifications of their illnesses, including them in our activities (where appropriate) and encouraging their spiritual growth. A natural storyteller, the author draws us in. We journey with her. With wisdom, kindness and the heart of a bruised survivor, she interweaves her exceptional story with vital teaching which simply cannot be ignored by anyone within the church today.

Book: Heavy Light: A Journey Through Madness, Mania and Healing

Book Title:

Heavy Light: A Journey Through Madness, Mania and Healing.

Author(s): Horatio Clare.

Year: 2021.

Edition: First (1st).

Publisher: Chatto & Windus.

Type(s): Hardcover, Audiobook, and Kindle.

Synopsis:

Heavy Light is the story of a breakdown: a journey through mania, psychosis and treatment in a psychiatric hospital, and onwards to release, recovery and healing.

After a lifetime of ups and downs, Horatio Clare was committed to hospital under Section 2 of the Mental Health Act.

From hypomania in the Alps, to a complete breakdown and a locked ward in Wakefield, this is a gripping account of how the mind loses touch with reality, how we fall apart and how we can be healed – or not – by treatment. A story of the wonder and intensity of the manic experience, as well as its peril and strangeness, it is shot through with the love, kindness, humour and care of those who deal with someone who becomes dangerously ill.

Partly a tribute to those who looked after Horatio, from family and friends to strangers and professionals, and partly an investigation into how we understand and treat acute crises of mental health, Heavy Light’s beauty, power and compassion illuminate a fundamental part of human experience. It asks urgent questions about mental health that affect each and every one of us.

Book: Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia

Book Title:

Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia (Bloomsbury Revelations).

Author(s): Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari.

Year: 2013.

Edition: First (1st).

Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic.

Type(s): Hardcover, Paperback, and Kindle.

Synopsis:

The collaboration of the philosopher Gilles Deleuze and the psychoanalyst Felix Guattari has been one of the most profoundly influential partnerships in contemporary thought. Anti-Oedipus is the first part of their masterpiece, Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Ranging widely across the radical tradition of 20th Century thought and culture that preceded them – from Foucault, Lacan and Jung to Samuel Beckett and Henry Miller – this revolutionary analysis of the intertwining of desire, reality and capitalist society is an essential read for anyone interested in post-war continental thought.

Book: Surviving Schizophrenia: A Family Manual

Book Title:

Surviving Schizophrenia: A Family Manual.

Author(s): E. Fuller Torrey.

Year: 2019.

Edition: Seventh (7th).

Publisher: HarpPeren.

Type(s): Paperback and Kindle.

Synopsis:

Since its first publication in 1983, Surviving Schizophrenia has become the standard reference book on the disease and has helped thousands of patients, their families, and mental health professionals.

In clear language, this much-praised and important book describes the nature, causes, symptoms, treatment, and course of schizophrenia and also explores living with it from both the patient’s and the family’s point of view. This new, completely updated seventh edition includes the latest research findings on what causes the illness, as well as information about the newest drugs for treatment, and answers the questions most often asked by families, consumers, and providers.

An indispensable guide for those afflicted by schizophrenia as well those who care for them, Surviving Schizophrenia covers every aspect of the condition and sheds new light on an often-misunderstood illness.