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Study dismisses stigma by breaking link between mental illness and violence

08-28-15 Category: Behavioral Health

Study dismisses stigma by breaking link between mental illness and violence

The criminal committing horrific acts of violence often drums up feelings of fear and assumptions about his or her mental state. While it is true that mental health problems can appear in certain criminals, a new study finds the correlation between violence and mind dysfunction weaker than most thought.

The study was published in the journal Clinical Psychological Science by Jennifer Skeem from the University of California, Berkeley and her colleagues. They examined data from the MacArthur Violence Risk Assessment Study, which involved interviews every 10 weeks for a year of over a thousand violent offenders released from jail. The surveys discussed the kind of violence the subjects committed along with personality traits and disorders, cognitive abilities, and problem behaviors.

Ten percent of those surveyed in the year after release from prison caused 50 percent of the violence reported. Even more interestingly, only half of the 10 percent reported symptoms of psychosis some time in that year. Just over 12 percent of those people had symptoms of psychosis preceding the violence.

Psychosis depends on the individual but often includes signs of delusions, hallucinations, disturbed thoughts, absent self-awareness and more. Disturbed thoughts, in particular, includes frequent jumps of subject, even mid-sentence.

The study ultimately concludes only one in 20 violent offenders involve psychosis in their criminal acts, further cementing the importance of true mental health education in the public.

Psychosis is not a mental illness in itself. Rather, it is an umbrella of symptoms often comingled with bipolar, major depression, substance abuse and schizophrenia disorders, among others. Certain physical problems can also precede psychosis, such as brain tumors, strokes and neurological disorders.

The exact machinations involved with psychosis are reduced grey matter, unhealthily high dopamine levels and other alterations of brain structure.

Early detection of psychosis symptoms can help with treatment not only of these signs, but the underlying illness causing them. Social withdrawal is an early sign of many mental issues, not just psychosis. Distress and agitation increasing over a period for seemingly no reason is also a reason for finding a mental health professional.

Finding the right mental health professional for an accurate diagnosis and strong treatment will help ensure complete recovery. Sovereign Health Group is a great resource for patients and families struggling to understand how to deal with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or other causes of psychosis. Don’t hesitate to reach out for help from our therapists by calling to speak to a member of our team at any time for a referral to a provider in your area.

Written by Nicholas Ruiz, Sovereign Health Group writer

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