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Schizophrenia: NAMI Offers Public Education; Discusses New Research on Fish Oil and Marijuana

ARLINGTON, Va., March 31, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has launched a new website on schizophrenia and published a new brochure on the medical condition which affects more than 2.4 million American adults each year.

Onset of schizophrenia often strikes men in their late teens or early twenties, while appearing in women in their late twenties or early thirties. The cause and course of treatment are different for each individual.

"NAMI has launched the new schizophrenia website and published the new schizophrenia brochure to provide up-to-date information to individuals, families and others," said NAMI Executive Director Michael Fitzpatrick.

"Everyone should know the nature of schizophrenia and its symptoms. Everyone should know the latest medical thinking on prevention, triggers and treatment."

The schizophrenia brochure can be downloaded from the website at www.nami.org/schizophrenia or ordered in packets of 25 copies each for local groups, physician offices, health fairs, conferences or workplace education.

The website highlights two areas of recent research relating to onset of schizophrenia

  • "Fish oil" supplements may help prevent psychosis during critical years of brain development. Further studies are needed, but NAMI Medical Director Ken Duckworth advises individuals in their teens or twenties with early symptoms of psychosis to take Omega-3 fatty acids-available in supermarkets and pharmacies. There appear to be few risks compared to the potential benefit.
  • Smoking marijuana is increasingly seen as a causal factor that can trigger onset of schizophrenia in some people. NAMI cites three studies published in February and March 2011. As an environmental factor, marijuana is believed to "trigger" genetic factors, increasing the risk of psychotic incidents and ongoing experiences.

The schizophrenia web site includes discussion of anosognosia, more commonly known as a lack of insight. Individuals may lack awareness of their own illness-believed to be the result of problems with neurological processes in the frontal lobe of the brain. The condition can lead to tension within families and complicate treatment.

NAMI offers education and support programs to individuals and families confronting schizophrenia.

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