A recent study written about in The New York Times has found that five different disorders share several “genetic glitches” that eventually cause mental illness.
The study that was published in The Lancet this week, includes the following five disorders: schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, autism, major depression and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
They first discovered a connection when studying twins. They found that one would have one of the “five disorders” and the other would have another. There are many cases of someone with ASD and one or more of their family members have Depression or Bipolar.
The experts are still a long way off from seeing the wood for the trees, and working out that these five disorders cover all known mental illnesses, depending on which human diagnoses the individual. The NYT article includes the information that years ago, Autism was known as Childhood Schizophrenia. OK, so with tongue firmly in cheek, let’s say those two disorders are the same thing; that makes four disorders.
Then there’s Bipolar and Major Depression. If you have the inclination to look into the various forms of Bipolar Disorder, specifically of Type 2 Bipolar, one of which consists of many more depressive episodes than hypomania, even including hardly any mania at all. Wouldn’t that also be considered Major Depression, depending on who’s doing the diagnosing?
So we’re down to three disorders.
Then, as I have been at pains to point out, Bipolar and Aspergers (autism) have identical symptoms, if people would bother to look.
Down to two disorders.
Then there’s the common acceptance that ADHD is part of the autistic spectrum. Helloo? ADHD = ASD.
So there you go. One disorder: Autistic Spectrum Disorder.
Autistic Spectrum Disorder is the one huge umbrella: The Big Daddy, and all other “mental illnesses” fall under it like a huge family tree.
And I take the word “illnesses” lightly, as for many high functioning people, it doesn’t make them ill and is not that much of a hindrance to them or the people around them. But the study is not concerned with high functioning people. (Although I do find it ironic that they used “33,332 people with psychiatric illnesses and 27,888 people free of the illnesses for comparison”. Good luck finding 27,888 people free of mental illness – anywhere!)
Obviously I have over-simplified everything. But that is the point of this blog. The world of mental health over-complicates everything, by giving individual names for tiny differences in signs and symptoms. And doctors can only guess the diagnosis at best, often only based on what the patient tells them.
Thanks to Jared for sharing this link on the home page comments.