Nipping Severe Mental Illness in the Bud
Severe forms of mental illness, like schizophrenia, bipolar disease and severe depression, affect one in 20 people and are responsible for a great deal of suffering and economic burden worldwide. These illnesses often start in late adolescence or early adulthood and affect those afflicted for the rest of their lives. While there are effective treatments for severe forms of mental illness, there is no definitive cure.
Dr. Rudolf Uher, Canada Research Chair in Early Intervention in Psychiatry, believes the reason there is no cure for these illnesses may be due to the fact that treatment starts too late.
Uher has been exploring the genetic and environmental causes of mental illness to find out if they can help to predict which treatment will work for whom. He is now turning his focus to the early stages of the development of mental illness to see if there are ways to effectively nip it in the bud.
Uher is planning to develop targeted interventions in adolescence or early adulthood. He will first test these interventions in young people who are at high risk because one or both of their parents suffer from severe mental illness.
If Uher’s interventions are successful, they could help many more people lead fulfilled lives without the prospect of mental illness.