at Silvia Turin
Suffering episodes of bullying is linked to a greater possibility of having hallucinations, paranoia and alterations in thinking or behavior. Psychosis detectable by measuring the levels of a neurotransmitter
Adolescents who are bullied are at increased risk of developing episodes of psychosis.
One established it study conducted by scientists from the University of Tokyo published in Nature who used magnetic resonance spectroscopy, or MRS (a type of radiological imaging used to depict the structure and function of the brain), to measure glutamate levels in the brain’s anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), a region that plays a role crucial in the regulation of emotions, decision making and cognitive control.
The scientists monitored glutamate levels because individuals experiencing their first episode of psychosis (or suffering from schizophrenia) have lower-than-normal levels of glutamate, a neurotransmitter involved in a wide range of functions, including learning. , memory and mood regulation. Alterations in glutamate levels have been implicated in various psychiatric disorders, including schizophrenia, depression, and anxiety.
Psychosis is a mental state characterized by loss of contact with reality, inconsistent speech and behavior and/or hallucinations and delusions.
Glutamate levels were measured in Japanese adolescents at first and second time points. Bullying victimization was monitored via questionnaires completed by the adolescents themselves. The researchers then used formal psychiatric measures to assess the experiences of bullying victims (e.g. counting the frequency of incidents, assessing the nature of events and physical or verbal aggression, measuring the impact
ct on mental health in general).
They found that bullying was associated with higher levels of subclinical psychotic experiences in early adolescence and that higher levels of these experiences were in turn associated with lower levels of glutamate. Subclinical episodes are defined as episodes that present symptoms that approximate psychosis, but do not meet all the criteria for a clinical diagnosis of a psychotic disorder, such as schizophrenia. These symptoms or experiences can include hallucinations, paranoia, or radical changes in thinking or behavior and can have a significant impact on a child’s well-being and life, even in the absence of a diagnosis of a psychotic disorder.
Studying these subclinical psychotic experiences is important for us to understand the early stages of psychotic disorders and to identify individuals who may be at greater risk of developing a clinical psychotic illness later on, said lead study author Naohiro Okada, Professor at the International Research Center for Neurointelligence at the University of Tokyo. Although Okada’s group identified a potential target for pharmacological interventions (glutamate), he added that non-pharmacological interventions such as cognitive behavioral therapy or mindfulness-based interventions can also serve to counteract this neurotransmitter imbalance.
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February 9, 2024 (modified February 9, 2024 | 07:42)
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