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Author Topic: A complex link between marijuana and schizophrenia
tonylovern
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story here.


On the one hand I'm happy that research is finally being done. Scizophrenia and bi-polar disorder have the same genetic precursor, so it would stand to reason that research regarding bi-polar disorder will eventually happen. for those of you that don't know, i've been bi-polar for a long time and spent roughly 13 years self medicating with marijuana. during that time i was more productive, more stable and enjoyed greater cognitive functioning than i do now on a cocktail of legal medications. the impairment of cognitive functioning is the reason for my sharp decline in interaction on this board, as well as my almost complete withdrawal from any kind of a social life. I simply can't keep up anymore. My brain Doesn't work as fast. conversations are harder to follow. responses take too long to formulate. this article gives me some small glimmer of hope that new drugs based on cannabis compounds will someday be available.

On the other hand, not all of the research was positive. the article focuses mostly on a purported link between marijuana use and an earlier onset of psychotic episodes in schizophrenics. if the research i'm hoping for happens, it could very well follow that while i was self medicating, i was excaserbating my condition. i dont think this is true. i think the opposite. i believe that my self medication served to mitigate some of the more damaging aspects of bi-polar disorder. so, if the research comes back different from what i believe i'm going to have a hard time accepting it.

All in all this seems like a good topic for ornery. there is research supporting both sides of the argument. the research itself is openly debatable and there is no possible way anyone can reasonably blame this on obama.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
the article focuses mostly on a purported link between marijuana use and an earlier onset of psychotic episodes in schizophrenics
My brother is a "self-medicating" schizophrenic, and while I can't point to marijuana as a definitive cause of some of his psychotic episodes, I have definitely noticed that, over the fifteen years he's been diagnosed, he has far more such episodes (and of far worse severity) when he's using.
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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by tonylovern:
On the other hand, not all of the research was positive. the article focuses mostly on a purported link between marijuana use and an earlier onset of psychotic episodes in schizophrenics. if the research i'm hoping for happens, it could very well follow that while i was self medicating, i was excaserbating my condition. i dont think this is true. i think the opposite. i believe that my self medication served to mitigate some of the more damaging aspects of bi-polar disorder. so, if the research comes back different from what i believe i'm going to have a hard time accepting it.

Is there necessarily any contradiction? Even if the disorders have the same genetic precursor, it seems plausible that a drug that mitigates one disorder might aggravate the other.
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tonylovern
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Tom, The research certainly seems to back up your observations. i hope your brother is doing alright.


Pete,

Thats a very good point and one of the main reasons i'm hoping for more research. there are however certain similarities between the 2 conditions. I hear voices, have uncontrollable mood swings and a decrease in social functioning.

there are enough similarities to suggest (to me at least) that the difference between the 2 conditions is just a matter of severity.

still, the point remains. the link i percieve might not have as much basis in fact as i believe. there are likely just as many differences as there are similarities and those differences could manifest in ways i dont anticipate.

At the same time we have the difference between THC and CBD. with the compounded differentiating factors theres enough room for me to hope for a positive outcome of research.

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Pete at Home
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I'm going by nothing but pot rumors and stereotypes here, but it seems perfectly reasonable to me that even if we assumed that the two syndromes were essentially the same condition, pot might stabilize (mellow) the mood swings while aggravating the hallucinations.
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seekingprometheus
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Ditto to everything TD said, except the 15 years part. My brother got diagnosed a couple of years ago, and pot definitely seems to exacerbate his symptoms.

Tony,

How long you been on the psych scrips? Acclimating to a new psychopharm cocktail takes time. The consciousness needs to learn to swim in a different kind of soup.

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seekingprometheus
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What Pete said jibes with my thoughts on the matter.

Just spitballing here, but I think pot takes the edge off of the emotional charges but shuts the exit doors when the brain starts wandering down hallucinogenic hallways. And even when emotional edges are dampened, the dysphoria of a mind trapped in a hallucination produces huge emotional charges.

[ July 25, 2010, 04:49 PM: Message edited by: seekingprometheus ]

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tonylovern
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I've been on the anti-psychotics and ambien for a little over a year and my current anti-depressant for about 2 months. it's the anti-psychotics that cause the biggest problems, but they're also the most necessary for controlling my symptoms. i've had plenty of time to acclimate to them but i havent regained the mental function like i hoped i would over time.

The new anti-depressants help a little bit, but dont actually do too much for the depression. long story short, i'm still working to find a balance that works as well as an ounce of weed a week did.

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seekingprometheus
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Yeah, those anti-psychotics are a bitch from what I understand. Better than the alternative, though.

Sorry to hear about your troubles, bro. Good luck.

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tonylovern
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Thank you. my troubles could be worse. at least i have a supportive family that understands why i dont leave the house unless i have to.
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JoshuaD
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Hey tony. I remember meeting you back at OrneryCon 2005 (or 2006?) and thinking you were a fun and interesting guy.

I had a bout with severe depression for about a year, and I developed a comprehensive plan that has transformed me into one of the happiest people I know. I believe that 90% of the mental depression-related maladies we suffer can be treated with these steps:

1) Eat healthy. Entirely remove High Fructose Corn Syrup from your diet and severely curb sugar intake. Take up cooking. Avoid vegetable oil. Olive oil and butter are your friends. Avoid anything that has ingredients that you can't pronounce. Eat things like oatmeal and yogurt and nuts and fruit. If you're vegetarian lots of bean dishes. If you eat meat, try to get meat with less chemicals in it. Switch to Organic milk and eggs. No more cereal for breakfast.

2) Cut out all substance from your life. For the next three years (at least), no cigarettes, weed, harder drugs, or alcohol. Not a drop.

2) Remove negative people from your life. I was surrounded by a number of "friends" who were sources of a huge amount of negativity. I had to entirely cut them out of my life.

3) Take up some sort of meditation. The less mysticism, the better. I practice Vipassana and it is one of the primary reasons I am happy. With that technique and determination, I have reprogrammed the automatic reactions of my brain so that I react positively to situations rather than negatively.

4) Get off the medication. It's bone-saw medicine. This may be more difficult than just quitting cold-turkey, but have a conversation with your doctor about kicking it all, and set in for some rough waters over the next year or two. Depend on your family and good friends during this time period, and set a few basic rules in your head that fall under the "not to be broken any circumstances" category and then never reconsider them. #1 is don't kill yourself. #2 is to create a list of people you trust and love now, and don't reconsider that list until you're better. #3 is that you'll see it through until you're better.

5) Take up exercise. Do as much as you can as often as you can. Become almost obsessed.

I could go on with a bit more, but I believe these are the key points for transforming your mind. It's a hard path and it might take quite some time (years) before you start seeing the full benefits of the change in your lifestyle, but you should almost immediately start seeing positive results.

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scifibum
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That all seems like good advice except maybe #4, which in some circumstances/cases might be a terrible idea.
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JoshuaD
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scifbum: #4 is the most dangerous piece of advice there, and I wouldn't recommend it unless Tony has a group of people (good family and friends) that he can depend on to make decisions for him from time to time. I had to hand over the majority of my decision making processes to a trusted friend for about 6 months. If I had a decision that was serious or set off a red-flag (because it consisted of something that might be paranoia or self-damaging), I would run it by him and trust his judgment. I might have tried to convince him (and occasionally succeeded), but in the end, I executed his decision even if I had doubts about it.

Getting off the medicine should definitely be one of the long term goals. Our psychiatric medicine is really, really bad right now. It's a step above leachcraft. The entire paradigm is broken. The medication is a short-term band-aid that causes the wound to fester rather than heal.

[ July 26, 2010, 05:04 PM: Message edited by: JoshuaD ]

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JoshuaD
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Here's a post I made in another forum a few months back. This was in response to someone who was "diagnosed" with ADHD and depression and was considering getting medication. It sounds like Tony's situation is more severe than this person's was, but I stand by all of the advice for Tony as well.

It's going to cover some of the same ground as what I just posted above, but it also has some ideas I didn't cover:

quote:
JoshuaD: Skip the drugs. They simply do not work in the long run. They suppress the problem until you develop a resistance and now the problem is worse.

Depression and ADHD are habit patterns of the mind. Start changing the habits. When you're having a panic attack watch the physical sensations of the attack and don't react to them. If you can't control it and you react forgive yourself and keep trying. When you become depressed, don't do the things you would normally do. Go do different things. Do things that are outside of your comfort zone. I took up Vipassana meditation (www.dhamma.org) to conquer my demons. In conjunction with the other things I'm outlining here, I went from suicidal to sincerely enjoying and loving life in 3 years. You can do it too.

Change your diet so you eat only fresh food. Avoid preservatives and saturated fats. Absolutely stop drinking any sodas. High Fructose Corn Syrup is poison, treat it as such.

Change your environment. If you have destructive friends that tear you down get rid of them. You don't need that.

Believe in yourself. Read any of the books out there on the power of positive thought and run with it.

Respect your demons, don't try to destroy them. Try to convert them. They will always be a part of you and they can become your biggest strength.

Start exercising. Walking 2+ miles a day, or a 15 minute work out routine in the morning is enough. Stretch too.

Improve your posture. Research the Alexander technique. Lay on the floor and let your back stretch straight. Stand against a wall with the backs of your feet, butt, shoulders and head touching the wall. Memorize this posture. Walk with it. Stand with it.

Start smiling at people as you walk by them. Be friendly and initiate light conversations with people.

Convert the negative voices in your head into positive voices. When a voice in your head tells you you can't do something, ask it "What are you good intentions?" Listen to it's answer. Then ask it "How can we do this thing I want to do and achieve your good intentions?" Listen to it's answer. Engage it. Turn it from a negative voice into a positive voice. The change stays.

Believe in yourself. Don't look to an external source for your salvation from bad habits. Realize that you're in control of your life and you can change everything.


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seekingprometheus
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Josh,

I agree with your general attitude toward psychopharmacologicals, but psychosis is a different animal than depression.

With depression, if you have a strong will, you can give away the shotgun, do breathing exercises and recite a mantra as the darkness closes in, because the "enemy" is a steady, suffocating pressure that ebbs and flows. When it's at its worst, you can shut down non-essential systems, hold on, and wait for the light to come.

And when you can find a slant of light, you can move toward it, and try to shake off the darkness.

Psychosis isn't like that. There are demons moving in the darkness. The "enemy" attacks suddenly from the rear. You can be having a "good" day, only to suddenly find yourself in a nightmare.

Psychosis doesn't sap your strength, it picks a fight.

The natural reaction to depression is withdrawal. The natural reaction to psychosis is engagement.

Different beast.

Your advice is good for someone with depression. If someone is experiencing schizotypal symptoms, following that advice could create really bad results really quickly.

[ July 26, 2010, 06:34 PM: Message edited by: seekingprometheus ]

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seekingprometheus
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quote:
Convert the negative voices in your head into positive voices. When a voice in your head tells you you can't do something, ask it "What are you good intentions?" Listen to it's answer. Then ask it "How can we do this thing I want to do and achieve your good intentions?" Listen to it's answer. Engage it. Turn it from a negative voice into a positive voice. The change stays.
This is fine when there is no confusion about whether the voice originated from your mind, inside your head.

When my brother is experiencing voices, they come from enemies outside the window, or from the hapless person sitting quietly next to him.

You don't tell the lady who hears voices that say her baby is the anti-christ and must be sacrificed that she should engage the voice and try to find out how they can work out a positive solution.

All psych diagnoses are pretty soft because we understand so little about the cause and nature of the problems. Bipolar shares a lot of overlap with depression, but it also overlaps with schizophrenia.

There are voices, and then there are VOICES.

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Daruma28
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Josh, I'll agree with your entire ideas here except for one:

"Change your diet so you eat only fresh food. Avoid preservatives and saturated fats."

Saturated fats are actually vital to your body to be able to produce the hormones, neurotransmitters, and other substances your body needs to achieve a healthy balance.

Saturated fats have been demonized by a conglomerate of grain manufacturers and a pharmaceutical industry that would have every American taking Statin drugs to "control their cholesterol."

The reason why pot works as a double edge sword, I think, is due to the mechanism of THC that gives you the high...the THC stimulates your dopamine production. When you get high, you feel great...but once it wears off, your body doesn't regulate your dopamine production to keep you feeling normal. In other words, when you come down from the high, you start slipping back into your malnourished, depleted state. This is why self-medicated people need to smoke and maintain their high every waking moment.

I still say that's probably better than the pharma mind drugs they got you on. Nothing good will ever come from those drugs. They will not cure you. At best, they'll have you on a "maintenance" for which you will have to take their drugs for the rest of your life. See how profitable it is for them to address your symptoms while ignoring the underlying issue?

Your best bet is to change your diet, avoid Omega 6 oils as much as possible, avoid sugar, HFCS, and start eating an Omega 3 fatty acid rich diet. Salmon, sardines, anchovies, grass fed, organic meats and dairy. Roasted nuts (make sure they're not fried in oil, which is typically peanut oil).

Cook with butter and eat lots of whole organic dairy. All of that saturated fats gives your bodies the tools it needs to manufacture all of the hormones and substances that regulate your moods, emotions and overall well being.

Look, a lot of people guffaw or dismissive whenever I talk about this subject.

All I can say is give it a try for one month.

Surely, even if you do believe all the lies and propaganda that say saturated fats are bad for you, you won't develop heart disease and clogged arteries from a single month of eating it without abandon...(you wouldn't from a lifetime of eating it, but I understand the skepticism is very hard to overcome...).

But you WILL feel differently.

Good luck.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
Do as much as you can as often as you can. Become almost obsessed.
This is interesting advice, because it has certainly been my (casual, unprofessional) observation that most of the schizophrenics I know are also deeply obsessive people. And thus they tend to bounce from obsession to obsession, until one burns out and they revert to their default -- namely, self-destructive paranoiac fantasy. I know many schizophrenics who wound up replacing their belief in voices who spoke to them through the radio (or the like) with strong beliefs in religion, aliens, One World Government, the value of exercise and diet, etc. I don't know any schizophrenics who simply woke up with a normal level of interest in normal things.

Of all the things to get obsessed with, I would imagine that religion and diet/exercise are among the healthiest.

[ July 26, 2010, 07:33 PM: Message edited by: TomDavidson ]

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tonylovern
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just to be clear, i dont hear evil voices telling me to do things. what i hear is someone saying my name off over my shoulder somewhere behind me. if the house is empty or my back is to a wall its pretty easy for me to realize that it's just in my head, if i'm in a crowd or there are people moving around in the house behind me i might stop and look around. either way, i eventually figure it out.

while i realize that better diet and excercise would make me feel better in the long term, i have a lot of bad habits that are very hard for me to break. i love my comfort food and my flavored air. i dont drink though. every time i do i end up either crying or starting a fight, neither of those outcomes are desired.

i fully accept that i'll be in and out of the hospital for the rest of my life. i accept that i'll always have problems finding work due to my inability to keep my mouth shut on the job. i accept that my condition is chronic and degenerative. there are a lot of obstacles in my path. but i'll keep Plugging away.

It's not all gloom and doom though. I've started doing some data entry work from home. it doesnt pay much, but after being out of work for 2 years, i'll take what i can get. my disability claim is going before a judge soon, so i'm hopeful about that.

i'm pretty good about monitoring my symptoms. i've been thinking about it for a long time and have the benefit of understanding how the disease affects me. it gives me a fighting chance at the very least.

Like i said before, i'm just hoping that someone finally starts studying the effects of marijuana on bi-polar. i think the advances they could make in treating a whole host of mental maladies could benefit a lot more than just me. i could just move to california, but i would have to find some way to act independant of my support system.

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tonylovern
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quote:
I know many schizophrenics who wound up replacing their belief in voices who spoke to them through the radio (or the like) with strong beliefs in religion, aliens, One World Government, the value of exercise and diet, etc.
I recently met a woman who thouroughly believed that god was telling her to do stuff. Too religious is scary.
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TomDavidson
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*nod* I mentioned the radio thing because my brother believed the radio would occasionally stop and address him directly, telling him to do things. When he "found God" and was "reborn" as a Baptist, for a while that new faith helped quiet the voices; later, when they started again, he believed that God was communicating with him using the radio.

I suggested not listening to the radio at all, but obviously that wasn't an option. *wry laugh*

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Michelle
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quote:
Originally posted by tonylovern:
I've been on the anti-psychotics and ambien for a little over a year and my current anti-depressant for about 2 months. it's the anti-psychotics that cause the biggest problems, but they're also the most necessary for controlling my symptoms. i've had plenty of time to acclimate to them but i havent regained the mental function like i hoped i would over time.

The new anti-depressants help a little bit, but dont actually do too much for the depression. long story short, i'm still working to find a balance that works as well as an ounce of weed a week did.

I think you need a new doctor, or at the very least a reevaluation. You said you are diagnosed with a bi-polar condition. Someone with a bi=polar condition may experience auditory hallucinations while suffering a psychotic break, but quickly recovers on a short-term administration of an anti-psychotic. A regimen of anti=depressants and a mood stabilizer is how a bi=polar is routinely managed. The anti-psychotic should be reserved for the severest of episodes. Anti-psychotics can cause depression. In fact most of the drugs geared toward the mentally-ill can cause the very problems they are trying to resolve.

The presence of auditory hallucinations are the hallmark of a schizophrenic diagnoses. Paranoid delusions may/or may not be present. An anti=psychotic is necessary to control and suppress the auditory hallucinations. That is, if the patient is not suffering from such a severe case that they are rendered drug resistant. Usually, the drugs are administer for a lifetime.

Now, schizophrenia is considered a thought disorder, but on the opposite side of the same spectrum you might find someone diagnosed with a schizo-affective disorder, which is more of an mood disorder -- like a bi-polar condition. A person suffering from a schizo=effective disorder suffers from auditory hallucinations, which is unlike a bi-polar condition.

Anti-psychotics should be administered to control the hallucinations. I'm not a doctor, but I've been an advocate for a schizo-affective relative for fifteen years. I've seen it all. All the drugs, all the treatments, including ECT's.

I've never seen a bi-polar person benefit from being on an anti-psychotic long-term.

I also have fought many years to keep my schizophrenic relative on the only anti-psychotic drug that has ever stabilized her, and left her with the ability to function normally. The early years of hospitalizations had doctors sticking her on any new drug they were currently marketing. As far as I am concerned, they prolonged her breaks. She is very lucky to have me as an advocate, because without the checks and balances, she would have been institutionalized years ago. Truth is, all the new generation drugs for mentally-ill patients, are no more effective or beneficial then what was on the market thirty years ago.

Anyway, bi-polars are most likely to suffer a full-blown psychotic break while in a manic phase. During the hospitalization period they may need to put you on an anti=psychotic, but once a bi-polar has made a recovery, it's time to wean them off of the anti-psychotic, and mange their condition with a mood-stabilizer, and maybe an anti-depressant. Some of those drugs, while beneficial while you are completely delusional, are a detriment on a long-term basis.

That's my .02.

As far as treating any of these conditions with pot? Hahaha. No one with a paranoid condition should go anywhere near the drug.

Maybe a manic-depressant could benefit from smoking during a manic-phase, using the drug as a counter-agent? I don't know, maybe. Certainly nothing long-term, because pot causes a lack of motivation, and mild-depression if used habitually over a period of time.

This study just seems so frivolous and self-indulging. Why don't we see if Jack Daniels can cure warts?

Tony, it sounds like you like the way pot makes you focus. That's not the same as improving cognitive skills. We all need -- not only to be able to focus, but have awareness of our surroundings and be able to prioritize what should have our attention at the moment. Pot just lets you shut out the sensory input of your surroundings, giving you the false sense that you are zeroing in on one task.

Unfortunately, there are no drugs that improve cognitive skills at this time. A well-balanced diet is the only thing I know that can make safe improvements on your focus and memory.

[ July 28, 2010, 09:47 AM: Message edited by: Michelle ]

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Michelle
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quote:
Originally posted by tonylovern:
quote:
I know many schizophrenics who wound up replacing their belief in voices who spoke to them through the radio (or the like) with strong beliefs in religion, aliens, One World Government, the value of exercise and diet, etc.
I recently met a woman who thouroughly believed that god was telling her to do stuff. Too religious is scary.
Schizophrenics are victims of religious zealots. They lack the insight to separate fact from fantasy. They often join a church, and if it's one of those 'healing' churches, they often go off their meds thinking God will heal them. They beleive everything they are told, (unless the voices tell them different.) During one hospitalization, my relative shared a psych ward with five other patients who went off their meds because they believed God told them to.

Interestingly, although very young children are unlikely to develop schizophrenia, when they do, their delusions involve monsters in the closet are under the bed, rather than angels and demons.

This suggest to me that maybe we should be focusing on the amydala part of the brain and it's relationship with the neo-cortex.

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Al Wessex
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Tony, after reading this thread my only piece of advice is to ignore all of our advice. Sounds like you are under the care of doctors who understand your condition and have a well-regulated medical regimen. I really appreciate your ability to articulate both the effects this is having on you and your strategies to deal with it.

So now I'll give my advice, which you should feel free to ignore. Good diet, exercise and healthy physical and social habits are just plain good practices for everybody. Your disease may not notice, but the rest of your body will.

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tonylovern
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This study just seems so frivolous and self-indulging. Why don't we see if Jack Daniels can cure warts?
given the frequency of marijuana use among schizophrenics i think this study needed to be done. if for no other reason than to have the data for educational purposes.

I know better diet and exercise would make me feel better in the long run. i'm not arguing that point. I'm just not in a place where i care right now. at least i dont care enough to do anything about it. i'm not saying thats a permanent condition, just the current one. it's not just limited to diet and exercise either, i dont care about anything. as pathetic as that sounds, it's a hard rut to break out of. i have to care about my situation in order to change my situation, but i dont care about my situation, because its a crappy one.

I am working to address that. finding work i could do without too many complications was a big step. alright. i'll stop here before i do any more depressed whining.

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