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Schizophrenia turns a Harvard graduate into a homeless person

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Photo: Washington Post

By NewsGram Staff Writer

Alfred Postell, a bearded homeless man wearing a towel on his head, roams on the streets of Washington, especially around the intersection of 17th and I Streets NW. He was a Harvard Law school graduate who had graduated with Chief Justice John Roberts. But, after schizophrenia took over him some thirty years back, he never recovered according to The Independent.

Photo: Washington Post
Photo: Washington Post

People in the surrounding areas who frequently saw this homeless man were completely unaware of his history. It was only when media uncovered his past and published reports about it that people came to recognize him.

The Independent quotes one such person who said: “We look at the homeless man sitting on a crate and we think, ‘Smelly beggar.’ We ask ourselves how they can live like that. (…) But many also were full of hopes, dreams and possibilities beyond comprehension before mental illness struck them down.”

But, Alfred Postell refuses to take medication for his illness. The guidelines does not allow the District’s Department of Behavioral Health to administer medication to a mentally ill person without his consent, except in cases where a doctor believes the person to be harmful to himself or others.

Green Door, a mental health agency, had taken him under care in February. But he refused to take any medication.

He remained non-compliant with treatment over the next month and was found by the treatment team on a downtown street in D.C. on March 18, 2015,” writes the psychologist of the Green Door who treated Alfred Postell according to The Independent. She further writes that he willingly spoke to the staff who wanted to monitor his progress, but refused to take any medication.

Green Door President Richard Bebout lists two probable reasons why many mentally-ill homeless people refuse to take help from service agencies: one, the paranoia that manifests due to mental illness; two, “adapted fearfulness.”

Some homeless people who had previously undergone bad experiences while living in the shelter (like being attacked), tend to hold on to their fears and hence are distrustful of service agencies.

For these reasons, people like Alfred Postell refuse to take any medication or help from service agencies, and they prefer to live on their own way as they see fit.

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Treating insomnia in young people can ease mental health problems like Anxiety, Depression: Study

The study is published in The Lancet Psychiatry journal

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A study published Wednesday found that treating insomnia in young people could ease mental health problems such as anxiety and depression
A study published Wednesday found that treating insomnia in young people could ease mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. VOA

London, USA, September 7, 2017: Treating young people who suffer from insomnia by using online cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) could reduce debilitating mental health problems such as anxiety and depression, scientists said Wednesday.

In a large trial published in The Lancet Psychiatry journal, researchers at Oxford University’s Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Institute also found that successfully treating sleep disruption eased psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations and paranoia.

“Sleep problems are very common in people with mental health disorders, but for too long insomnia has been trivialized as merely a symptom, rather than a cause, of psychological difficulties,” said Daniel Freeman, a professor of clinical psychology who led the work.

“This study turns that old idea on its head, showing that insomnia may actually be a contributory cause of mental health problems.”

The research involved 3,755 university students from across Britain who were randomized into two groups. One group had six sessions of online CBT, each lasting about 20 minutes, and delivered via a digital program called Sleepio. The others had access to standard treatments but no CBT.

Freeman’s team monitored participants’ mental health with a series of online questionnaires at zero, three, 10 and 22 weeks from the start of treatment.

The researchers found that those who had the CBT sleep treatment reduced their insomnia significantly as well as showing small but sustained reductions in paranoia and hallucinatory experiences.

The CBT also led to improvements in depression, anxiety, nightmares, psychological well-being, and daytime work and home functioning.

Andrew Welchman, head of neuroscience and mental health at the Wellcome Trust health charity, which helped fund the research, said the results suggested improving sleep may provide a promising route into early treatment to improve mental health.

Freeman added: “A good night’s sleep really can make a difference to people’s psychological health. Helping people get better sleep could be an important first step in tackling many psychological problems and emotional problems.” (VOA)

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High-Frequency Magnetic Pulses May Treat “Hearing of Voices” Condition of Schizophrenia Patients: Study

People with schizophrenia experience delusions, muddled thoughts, and hallucinations

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schizophrenia
"Hearing of voices" condition experienced by schizophrenia patients. Pixabay

London, Sep 06, 2017: Researchers have found that high-frequency magnetic pulses can improve “hearing of voices” condition experienced by many patients with schizophrenia.

The research presented at the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ECNP) conference in Paris identified the area of the brain involved in the condition in some patients.

Also Read: New hormone test may distinguish schizophrenia, depression  

“This is the first controlled trial to precisely determine an anatomically defined brain area where high frequency magnetic pulses can improve the hearing of voices,” said lead researcher Sonia Dollfus, Professor at Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Caen in France.

Schizophrenia is a serious long-term mental health problem. People with schizophrenia experience a range of symptoms, which may include delusions, muddled thoughts and hallucinations.

One of the best-known is hearing voices, also known as Auditory Verbal Hallucination (AVH), which around 70 per cent of people with schizophrenia experience at some point.

These voices, may be ‘heard’ as having a variety of different characteristics, for example as internal or external, friendly or threatening, they may be continuously present or present only occasionally, and so on.

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS), which uses magnetic pulses to the brain, has been suggested as a possible way of treating the hearing of voices in schizophrenia.

However, there is a lack of controlled trials to show that TMS works effectively in treating “hearing of voices”.

The French research team worked with a small group of patients who received active TMS treatment. A control group received sham (placebo) treatment.

The researchers interviewed the patients using a standard protocol — the Auditory Hallucinations Rating Scale — which revealed most of the characteristic features of the voices which they were hearing.

The treated patients received a series of 20 Hz high-frequency magnetic pulses over two sessions a day for two days.

Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), the pulses were targetted at a specific brain area in the temporal lobe, which is associated with language.

After two weeks, the patients were re-evaluated. The researchers found that 34.6 per cent of the patients being treated by TMS showed a significant response, whereas only 9.1 per cent of patients in the sham group responded. (IANS)

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A 22-year-old Sikh mistaken for being Muslim gets Abused and Harassed at US store in Massachusetts

A 22 year-old Sikh was harassed in a store after a man thinks that he is a Muslim

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People of Sikh community (Representational Image), Pixabay

Boston, November 21, 2016: Everyone is unique, no matter what community they belong to or the language they speak. But some people fail to share the same view and think otherwise.

Some people generalise characteristics of a community and think that all belonging to the same community will believe or follow the same direction. This leads to hateful marginalisation and harassment. After Donald trump emerged victorious in the 2016 US presidential elections, the number of cases of such hateful harassment have increased and over 200 incidents have been reported, mentioned PTI.

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[bctt tweet=”Harmann Singh was confronted by a man who called him a ‘(expletive) Muslim.’  ” username=””]

A 22-year-old Sikh student at the Harvard Law School has come across such incident of discrimination. He was harassed on November 11 at a store in the vicinity of the campus by someone who assumed that he was Muslim. Harmann Singh, from Buffalo, New York is a first-year law student at Harvard and was speaking to his mother on the phone during the entire incident.

“Over the weekend, I was confronted by a man who called me a ‘(expletive) Muslim’ and followed me around a store aggressively asking where I was from, and no one in the store said a thing. I was on the phone with my mom the entire time, and we were both concerned for my safety as this man stood inches away from me,” Singh wrote in The Boston Globe.

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He also wrote that “While deeply painful, what happened to me pales in comparison to the hate and violence many of my brothers and sisters have faced across the country.” Singh said that the man was following him all around the store and kept asking him where he was from while harassing him. Singh tried to ignore the man and continue his conversation on the phone, mentioned PTI report.

The owner of the store said that he did see the man who spoke to Harmann and intended to ask the man to leave but he was at the back of the store when the incident occurred and both of them had left when he returned.

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The owner also said that he did not know who the man was and was hoping to never see him again.

Harmann said that the most efficient way to encounter such marginalisation is to be there for each other. He said that even a bystander who interrupts to check in with the victim being harassed can make a difference.

-prepared by Shivam Thaker of NewsGram. Twitter: @Shivam_Thaker