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Science Behind Mental Health Disorders
Category: Stigma
Tags: Science bipolar schizophrenia depression
The Science Behind Mental Health Disorders

​The five main regions of the brain are the frontal lobe, the parietal lobe, the temporal lobe, the occipital lobe, and the cerebellum. The frontal lobe is the main connection between the temporal lobe and the parietal lobe. The temporal lobe processes auditory perception. The parietal lobe processes sensory information about the body, visually interprets information in its view, and processes language and mathematics. The parietal lobe is alsothe area of the brain where concepts and knowledge are stored.

Unusual activity in the frontal lobe is thought to be responsible for symptoms of mental health disorders, including schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. It is also believed to assist our brains incombining information in new and creative ways, explainingthe link between mental health disorders and creativity.

An example of unusual frontal lobe brain activity includes those diagnosed with schizophrenia.To see this, doctors examine the brainscans of thosediagnosed with schizophrenia. People with this disorder have high levels of dopamine in the prefrontal cortex, which covers the front part of the frontal lobe. The high levels of dopamine lead to symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions, paranoia, and disorganized thought.

Another example of unusual frontal lobe brain activity is in the brains of those diagnosed with bipolar disorder.These brainscans show a constant cycling of norephinephrine in the frontal lobe. High levels of norephinephrine are known to cause symptoms of depression, while low levels create new connections in the brain, causing the ablity to make new thought-associations. Low levels also cause symptoms such as rapid thinking and pressured speech.

Mental Health Disorders and the Brain

People often question psychiatrists for their methods of diagnosing mental health disorders based on symptoms alone, with no biological basis (such as a brain scan). Where is the proof that these people who are diagnosed are truly in need of these therapies?

Well, a study from Stanford found an unexpected insight: after analyzing 16,000 whole brain images, researchers found a loss of gray matter in three (3) brain structures, several centimeters apart from one another. The brain structures affected are the left and right anterior insula and the dorsal anterior cingulate.

These brain structures are associated with higher-level executive functions such as concentration, task-switching, planning and decision-making, and inhibition of counterproductive impulses. This loss of gray matter was similar across patients with different psychiatric conditions. This reveals a link between psychiatric disorders and loss of gray matter in the brain and the subsequent symptoms that result.

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