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Research gives insight into schizophrenia's genetic factors

We often tend to think of disability in terms of physical functioning. But among some age groups, the leading cause of disability is actually mental illness. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, more than one in four individuals over the age of 18 have a diagnosable mental illness.

Although conditions like depression have become destigmatized, other mental disorders like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are still widely misunderstood and those with the diseases are too often feared and referred to as “crazy.” The good news, however, is that emerging research into these mental conditions is yielding exciting new discoveries and hope for better medical treatment.

A team of international researchers recently announced the results of a study that could better explain the genetic roots of schizophrenia. The study found 108 genes that are linked to schizophrenia, including 83 which had previously not been associated with the condition.

The results of the study are preliminary and additional research will be needed. But these findings are at least a reason to be hopeful that in identifying the causes of a disease afflicting approximately 24 million people worldwide, scientists may someday be able to develop better treatments and perhaps even a cure.

Until or unless this happens, many individuals suffering from schizophrenia may find it difficult or impossible to work a job. Therefore, it may be necessary for them to apply for disability benefits. An experienced attorney can help guide applicants through the process in order to make sure that they present the strongest possible case.

Source: Medical News Today, "Researchers identify more than 80 new genes linked to schizophrenia," Honor Whiteman, July 22, 2014

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