Psychopharmacology and Mental Health

Psychopharmacology and Mental Health


Genetics play a role in many serious mental health disorders, and one mental health disorder that has a strong heritability rate is schizophrenia. Presumably, individuals who share greater proportions of their DNA with a schizophrenic will have increased risk of developing the disorder. Heritability of this neurodevelopmental disorder is estimated to be approximately seventy-six percent (Hiker, 2018). Although these studies indicate a strong genetic component in schizophrenia, scientists do not know what genes are directly involved. This is a very complicated process because the disorder is both polygenic and pleiotropic (Zheutlin, 2019). Therefore, the common genetic loci for individuals with schizophrenia have been grouped into three broad categories.

One category are genes that code for synaptic proteins involved in neuronal excitability and plasticity. This category would be genes that code for NMDA receptors, cytoskeletal proteins, or long lasting (L type) calcium channels (Iasevoli, 2014). Another category is cell to cell recognition molecules that play a role in synapse formation and stabilization. Synapse formation and stabilization involves genes such as the DISC-1 gene, and Neuregulin 1 (NRG-1) and its receptor erbB-3 (Selemon, 2015). The last category includes other types of structural proteins. These include the peptide FMRP and other related proteins (Iasevoli, 2014). Although we do not know exactly what causes the deficits in schizophrenia, they seem to be related to establishing neuronal synapses, keeping those synapses working, and maintaining all of the molecules at the synapse in their proper location so that the synapse can function typically. Thus, one may conclude that genetic vulnerability that alters neurodevelopment might include developmental deficits in cell differentiation, migration, or synaptogenesis.


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Christy and Brigitte LewisChristy Lewis holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Texas at Arlington and a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from The Professional School of Psychology.. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and has counseled for a combined 17 years in several clinical and medical settings and has offered career/life coaching for an additional 10 years. Christy is also Board Certified in Biofeedback and Neurofeedback through BCIA, the Biofeedback Certification International Alliance organization.Brigitte graduated in August 2020 from Baylor University in Waco, Texas with a Bachelor of Science degree in Neuroscience. She is currently working toward her BCN (Board Certification in Neurofeedback) certification. Brigitte currently works at the Biofeedback, Education, & Training Center in Plano, Texas as a Sleep/Health Coach and Clinical Intake Coordinator. Sleep/Health Coaching includes providing new clients with educational information regarding behavioral changes and sleep hygiene to help improve overall perceived sleep quality. In the future, Brigitte plans to attend graduate school to study Clinical Psychology with an emphasis on sleep quality and how it affects overall health.

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