Anomalies in the immune system of those suffering from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder prompted scientists to question if any infection-causing agents, triggering comparable immune responses, are responsible for such psychiatric disorders.
A recent study by the Johns Hopkins Medicine, published in the journal NPJ Schizophrenia in May 2016, found that men with mental illnesses, such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, were more likely to suffer from Candida yeast infections when contrasted with those with no history of psychiatric illnesses. In fact, yeast infections in men may trigger schizophrenia or bipolar disorder due to their exposure to these microorganisms that affect behavior, the study said.
Need to look for yeast infection in mentally ill patients
For the study titled “Candida albicans exposures, sex specificity and cognitive deficits in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder,” the researchers observed 808 people aged between 18 and 65 years, of which 270 respondents were suffering from bipolar disorder, 261 had schizophrenia and the remaining 277 participants had no history of any mental illness. The blood samples of the respondents were collected and used to measure the amount of lgC class antibodies to Candida.
Based on the findings, the scientists observed that 26 percent male respondents suffering from schizophrenia had Candida antibodies, as compared with 14 percent of those in the control group. Moreover, female participants with a history of mental illnesses, such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, had a high antibody count scored low on the memory tests, as opposed to those who did not have any such infections.
Though the study did not point at any direct association between various psychological brain processes and the Candida infection, it definitely highlighted that the infection was responsible for memory impairments in women with bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.
Stressing on the fact that the findings could not establish any causative relationship between mental illness and infections caused by yeasts, Dr. Emily Severance, assistant professor of pediatrics and member of the Stanley Division of Developmental Neurovirology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said, “It’s far too early to single out Candida infection as a cause of mental illness or vice versa. However, most Candida infections can be treated in their early stages, and clinicians should make it a point to look out for these infections in their patients with mental illness.”
Stressing on the need to conduct further study to understand the effect of yeast infection on the memory in women with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, Severance added, “Because Candida is a natural component of the human body microbiome, yeast overgrowth or infection in the digestive tract, for example, may disrupt the gut-brain axis. This disruption in conjunction with an abnormally functioning immune system could collectively disturb those brain processes that are important for memory.”
Road to recovery
According to a report by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), an estimated 43.8 million Americans suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder each year. Mental health conditions have engulfed Americans to the extent that most people are now seeking refuge in rehabs that can offer best-in-class treatment facilities.
The stigma and prejudice associated with mental diseases often discourage people to come forward and share their sufferings. If you or your loved one is suffering from any mental illness, you may contact the Florida Mental Health Helpline to seek information on one of the best rehab centers in Florida. You may call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-846-5588 or chat online for further expert advice on mental disorder treatment in Florida.