Research to Help Understand and Treat Rapid Aging Effects of Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is a chronic mental illness that affects approximately one percent of the adult U.S. population. The illness deeply affects the individual’s personality. Common symptoms include experiencing delusions and difficulty discerning between real and imagined events. This disconnect with reality typically leads to social isolation.
The illness is also often accompanied by hurried physical aging, including the serious physical health problems usually encountered later in life. The physiological companions to schizophrenia are the main reason why the lifespan of a person with the illness is often cut short by as much as 25 years. A National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH) funded study will look deeper into this association.
Previous research has shown that the body of a person with schizophrenia actually ages faster than normal. In the past, healthcare professionals attributed the rapid aging to limited availability of treatment. However, despite significant improvements in treatment access and therapies, physiological ill-effects can remain. The planned study will therefore look deeper for new answers to improve treatment. The study is scheduled to last five years and will closely examine 250 plus middle-aged patients with schizophrenia.
Once each year for five years, study participants will undergo medical and psychiatric scrutiny. Investigators plan to track things like oxidative stress, telomere length, insulin dysregulation, cell aging and how taking one or more medications over a period of years may impact the aging process. By looking at the biological mechanisms of aging as well as the impact of current drug therapies, researchers aim to find out what leads to the speeding up of aging. Then new treatments could be devised to slow down the process more.
If someone in your life is affected by schizophrenia, directly or indirectly, you need to learn all you can about this mental health condition. People living with the illness and those caring for them need a place to go where someone understands the challenges they are facing. At Family Guidance Center we can be that place. Call us or stop by today.