Uncovering the relationship between the human brain and body has been a focus of research for years. While experts have identified which areas of the nervous system influence certain emotions and behaviors, the specific processes that take place are still unknown for the most part. However, many recent scientific observations have highlighted key factors in this important interplay of bodily systems.
One of the various goals of this exploration is to better understand mental disorders and how they develop. The latest academic endeavor in this field of research was conducted in January by UCLA Professor Daniel Geschwind and a team of likeminded scholars. The experts of neurology, psychiatry and genetics established that there are shared genetic characteristics in people with common psychiatric illnesses. The study found that schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression and other disorders have an association with immune function and DNA regulation.
Specifically, the researchers examined over 60,000 participants with various degrees of mental health conditions for their respective biological issues. The study revealed that there is a trend of specific genes and molecular changes responsible for immunity and DNA activity. Geschwind and the team then formulated a “gene network” to track the changes of these particular pathways in the brain over time. Altogether, the project’s scope aimed to offer an unprecedented, in depth view of psychological disorders.
Although there are multiple factors that contribute to psychological dysfunction, learning what biological aspects are involved in these phenomena are integral to help prevent and treat them earlier. External, environmental elements are substantial, yet subjective to each person’s unique circumstances. It is difficult to ignore the measurable and chemical imbalances that occur during the onset of depression, anxiety or other ailments of the brain. If one’s mind is analogous to a well-oiled machine, a mechanic must know the sum of its parts in order to maintain its functionality.
The current findings complement similar breakthroughs this year. Most notable is the identification of the Gomafu gene by scientists at UC Irvine and Australia’s University of Queensland and the Garvan Institute of Medical Research. The team activated and deactivated the strand of molecular RNA and discovered that it plays a major role in the regulation of adaptive behaviors that rapidly respond to environmental changes. Previously thought to have no function at all, the absence of Gomafu leads to behaviors that are symptomatic of anxiety disorders and schizophrenia. As with the UCLA research, the smallest strands of genetic material appear to have massive roles in determining how a specific individual thinks, feels and behaves. As technological advances lead to more detailed observations, isolating how the building blocks of life function will systematically improve the understanding of why humans act the way they do.
By understanding mental illness and what the causes are, clinicians and other specialized treatment providers can target the inner mechanisms of disorders and make diagnoses and treatment plans much more efficient. As it stands now, many mental disorders can only be managed rather than reversed completely. New discoveries may lead to innovative procedures within the field. Most importantly, these findings will save more lives. Geschwind showed his support for the idea by stating, “This is an approach that will only grow more powerful as more loci are identified with even larger studies in the next few years.”
Until the beneficial implications of these crucial studies make it to the medical field, Sovereign Health of California prides itself on implementing the most current, comprehensive strategies in healing the human mind. From evidence-based therapy to holistic and experiential activities, Sovereign’s experienced staff of mental health professionals is equipped to make diagnoses accurate and recovery as smooth as possible. If anyone in your life suffers from an incapacitating mental illness, contact a consultant as soon as possible for support. Live chat online or call (866) 819-0427.
Written by Lee Yates, Sovereign Health Group writer