Can Glutathione Assist in the Prevention and Treatment of Mental Illness?
Millions of people worldwide suffer the debilitating effects of mental disorders. A mental disease or disorder is described as an emotional or psychological disorder that typically causes serious behavioral and psychological disturbances that result in a person's inability to function in daily life. There are many types of mental disorders including anxiety disorder, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and mood disorders. Treatment modalities include psychotherapy and medications, many of which cause severe side effects.
Major depression, also referred to as clinical depression is a mood disorder that causes sadness, despair and feelings of hopelessness. Symptoms include feelings of unhappiness and a lack of interest in normal activities. Symptoms can occur sporadically or can last for several weeks or months. Angry outbursts, irritability and sleep disturbances are recognized as clinical signs of depression. Severe depression can cause disorders ranging from a general lack of interest in food or a tendency to over-indulge, resulting in weight loss or weight gain. Major depression is also characterized by agitation, anxiety, panic attacks, changes in thinking patterns and short-term memory loss. Many people afflicted with major depression express thoughts of death or suicide. If untreated, major depression can lead to suicide attempts or suicide.
There are several types of depression, classified by psychological behavior and features. Anxiety associated with depression can include both depressive and manic features. In cases of mania, a person may have a sense of elevated self-esteem. Racing thoughts and an inability to speak clearly are also signs of mania. Major depression also has melancholic features in which a person has a lack of normal responses to previously pleasurable experiences and activities. Atypical features of depression may also include unusual sensitivity to criticism, which is often associated with feelings of rejection.
Bipolar disorders are characterized by a combination of depressive and manic episodes. Common symptoms include mood swings, as well as low energy levels. People with severe bipolar disorder may lose the ability to function in everyday activities. The causes of bipolar disorder are unclear. Scientists are currently examining the link between genetics and environmental factors as potential risks for developing the disorder. Severe bipolar disorder usually causes unusual emotional states that occur in patterns, known as mood episodes. Each episode is characterized by drastic changes in mood and behavior. Manic episodes include overly joyful or happy states, which are typically followed by depressive episodes, causing extreme sadness and hopelessness. A mixed bipolar episode can include symptoms of both mania and depression.
Symptoms of a manic episode include drastic mood changes in which a person may experience intense happiness, intermixed with extreme irritability and unexpected outbursts of anger. Bipolar disorder can also cause distorted thoughts and an inability to remain focused on certain tasks. Uncontrolled impulses can lead to high-risk behavior, including engaging in promiscuous sexual activity with several partners. Thoughts of suicide may be followed by actual suicide attempts.
Schizophrenia a serious mental illness that can affect people of all ages. Although minor signs often appear in late adolescence or early adulthood, the disease worsens as it progresses. There is no known cure for schizophrenia. Symptoms are typically managed with extensive psychotherapy and medications. Symptoms include altered perceptions of reality causing delusions, visual and auditory hallucinations and thought disorders. Once thought to be a personality disorder, schizophrenia includes antisocial, histrionic and narcissistic components. Antipsychotic medications can be effective in managing or minimizing severe symptoms.
Antidepressant and Antipsychotic Medications
Medications are routinely prescribed for the treatment and management of symptoms associated with mental illness. The common types of medications used to treat these disorders include antidepressants and antipsychotic drugs. Antidepressants are commonly prescribed to treat major depression and anxiety associated with many mental disorders. Anxiolytics and sedatives may be helpful to treat anxiety disorders. Mood stabilizers are primarily prescribed to manage the mood episodes caused by bipolar disorder. Antipsychotics are used to manage paranoia and hallucinations associated with schizophrenia.
Mood stabilizers such as lithium and anticonvulsant medications, such as Depakote have proven to be effective for the treatment of mania associated with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Lamictal, Neurontin and Topamax are generally prescribed for the treatment of major depression. Side effects of these medications include restlessness, muscle pain, drowsiness, gastrointestinal problems and mood fluctuations. Atypical antipsychotic medications, such as Zyprexa and Abilify have serious side effects including fatigue, lethargy, blurred vision, rapid heartbeat and fluctuations in blood pressure levels.
There are several types of antidepressants used to manage symptoms of depression and bipolar disorder. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) include Paxil, Prozac, Celexa, Zoloft and Lexapro. Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) include Cymbalta, Pristiq and Effexor XR are effective in the management of clinical depression and may also be prescribed to treat depressive episodes associated with bipolar disorder. Norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitors (NDRIs) include Wellbutrin, one of the most popular antidepressants on the market. Tricyclic antidepressants including Toframil and Pamelor are associated with severe side effects, which causes many patients to stop taking the drugs. Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) such as Parnate and Nardil are also associated with severe side effects. Mental health professionals often prescribe a combination of antidepressants and typically increase doses in order to obtain desired treatment levels. Unfortunately, people with mental illnesses continue to struggle with the debilitating consequences caused by unmanageable side effects.
Research Suggests Glutathione Does Assist in the Prevention and Treatment of Mental Disorders
Glutathione, a natural antioxidant produced by our bodies and found in all living cells acts as a natural detoxifier to protect the function of essential vitamins, many of which are lost through the digestive process. Glutathione neutralizes free radicals that can negatively affect cellular growth, development and health. Glutathione protects the body from invasions of toxins, bacteria and viruses, all of which can cause serious illnesses including cancer and mental disorders. Without sufficient levels of glutathione, cells become unable to divide and multiply naturally. Low levels of glutathione can lead to the development and progression of cancer, cardiovascular disease and mental illness. Low levels of glutathione in brain cells can lead to a miss-firing of neurons, causing several types of mental disorders.
Recent research studies indicate that low levels of glutathione are linked to a multitude of mental disorders including bipolar disorder, major depression and schizophrenia. Researchers are currently attempting to determine whether mental disease is actually caused by low levels of glutathione in brain cells. A study published in a July 2010 issue of a major neuropsychological journal suggested that levels of glutathione were significantly decreased in people diagnosed with psychiatric disorders. A 2009 study published in Trends in Pharmacological Sciences indicated that free radical-related oxidative stress is likely to be one of the leading causes of the underlying mechanisms contributing to the development of mental illness including clinical depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
It has been shown that glutathione plays a significant role in the prevention and treatment of mental disorders. The antioxidant effects allow the body to maintain healthy cellular balance, especially in brain cells that are responsible for the onset of mental disorders. The psychiatric, medical and scientific communities are beginning to realize the benefits of glutathione as an alternative treatment for mental disorders. Studies suggest that glutathione supplements may be more beneficial than antidepressant or antipsychotic drugs. Supplements containing the amino acids found in glutathione may manage symptoms of mental illness and allow those afflicted to live normal and healthy lives without devastating side effects caused by pharmaceutical drugs.