Genetic Counseling Helps Schizophrenia Patients

People with schizophrenia may benefit significantly from genetic counseling, according to a new study from the University of British Columbia.

Understanding the origin of mental health issues and how genes influence the psychological state can offer patients awareness and acceptance of their conditions, the research found.

"Traditionally genetic counselling is applied to conditions that are caused entirely by genes like Huntington's disease," said Jehannine Austin, associate professor at UBC. "Psychiatric disorders arise because of a combination of genes and experience and our study shows that genetic counselling is just as valuable for these patients."

Removing the stigma

In Austin's previous work, she found that people with psychiatric illnesses would create their own stories about the cause of their mental illness if they were not given an explanation rooted in facts.

This new study showed that genetic counseling can not only help patients understand why they are mentally ill, but can also teach them how to better cope with and protect their mental health moving forward.

"People with mental health problems often feel guilty, ashamed or stigmatized about where the illness came from and this has a profound effect on how they feel," Austin said.

Genetic counseling may also offer patients a critically important sense of control, which is often missing in these individuals.

"We helped people better understand the cause of their illness and helped them uncover issues like guilt and distress," Austin concluded.

Source: UCB

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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