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The Differences Between Schizophrenia and Dissociative Identity Disorder

The Differences Between Schizophrenia and Dissociative Identity Disorder

A lot of the time, people confuse two uncommon mental disorders: Schizophrenia, and Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), also known as multiple personality disorder. Other than the fact that many people who have these disorders are stigmatized by society, they both have little in common.

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    Schizophrenia

    Schizophrenia[1] is a mental disorder characterized by hallucinations (seeing and hearing things and people that are not there), delusions, abnormal behavior, and failure to understand what is real and what is not real. It is usually diagnosed in the late teens or early to late 20’s, and has been found to occur more in men than women. Schizophrenic people often find it difficult to live normal lives and conduct normal activities, such as interacting with others or holding down a job; they can also be depressed because they hear voices they do not recognize in their head.

    Schizophrenia is difficult to treat because schizophrenic people have difficulty maintaining the treatment regimen, which usually involves medications and psychotherapy.

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    Dissociative Identity Disorder (Multiple Personality Disorder)

    Dissociative identity disorder (DID),[2] also known as multiple personality disorder, is characterized by two or more distinct identities or personalities that exist within a person. These identities are often formed as a coping mechanism due to traumatic experience(s). Sometimes, a person with DID will lose track of time or will be unable to account for some period of time during their day. This usually occurs when identities or personalities within the individual takes control of them.

    Contrasting the Two

    While trauma is associated with both disorders, the traditional difference is that with schizophrenia, trauma tends to be a consequence of the illness and not causative. Trauma doesn’t make someone have schizophrenia, whereas for almost everyone with DID, it has been found to be a reaction to trauma. Schizophrenia is classified as a psychological disorder, and managed mostly with drugs, whereas DID is considered a developmental disorder that is more responsive to behavioral modifications and psychotherapy.

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    The difference between the two disorders seems clear cut, but psychiatrist Brad Foote of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine warns his peers that it is possible to confuse the two conditions early in the course of treatment.

    Schizophrenic people usually have a more difficult time functioning in society, and have an even harder time with social relationships such as family, work, and friends because of the nature of the disorder. However, if they have strong family and community support, they can do well, and can lead fulfilling, happy, and healthy lives, with rewarding social and family relationships.

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      People with dissociative identity disorder can also often lead successful, “normal” lives, and healthy, happy relationships with others. While, like with schizophrenia they can “hear voices” in their head, the voices are that of different identities or personalities within them. Such personalities or identities may help or allow the person function in life with only momentary disruptions. However, others with DID may have a more difficult time, because the identities continually take over parts of their life, often making them lose track of time.  The struggle of trying to cope with the disorder may cause them to become depressed.

      While both schizophrenia and dissociative identity disorder are serious and chronic mental health disorders, the differences between the two disorders are stark. People with schizophrenia hear, see and believe things that aren’t real, and have trouble distinguishing reality from hallucination; they do not have multiple identities or personalities. People with DID do not have delusions or see things that aren’t there; the only voices they hear or talk to are their other personalities or identities.

      Featured photo credit: WiseGeek via wisegeek.org

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      Elise Bauer

      Freelance Writer, Lawyer & Blogger

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      Last Updated on June 5, 2020

      How Do Memory Vitamins Work? (And the Best Brain Supplements)

      How Do Memory Vitamins Work? (And the Best Brain Supplements)

      There are a whole bunch of alleged memory vitamins and supplements to help you concentrate and boost your brain function. Unfortunately, there’s also a lot of misinformation, dodgy studies, and things we just don’t know when it comes to which vitamins actually help with memory and concentration.

      This article will dig into the current research to pick four of the best vitamins and supplements to boost your memory and overall brain function.

      Vitamins Vs Supplements

      First, let’s talk about the difference between a vitamin and a supplement. Vitamins are simply organic compounds that are necessary in small quantities to sustain life[1]. We’re talking the vitamin A, B, and Cs here. Vitamins are in the unprocessed, healthy foods you eat every day and are also available as daily supplements in pill form or as chewy, edible cartoon characters.

      Supplements are just extra pills, liquids, or cartoon characters that you consume in addition to the actual food you eat. Supplements can include but are not limited to vitamins, minerals, amino acids, herbs, hormone building blocks, and other compounds that are synthesized or extracted from natural sources.

      What Research Says About Vitamins and Supplements

      Now, we need to talk about the current state of the research on memory vitamins and brain supplements.

      The only real consensus seems to be that much more research needs to be done to truly answer which vitamins and supplements are best for your memory.

      Supplements are big business. In 2015, Americans spent 643 million dollars on supplements, and a quarter of Americans over 50 take them regularly[2]. That’s a lot of money spent on an extremely unregulated and under-researched industry.

      Here’s what we do know:

      The brain needs vitamins and minerals to function properly. We also have some studies on rats and in small samples of humans that show preliminary glimmers of hope[3] that certain memory vitamins and brain supplements may also have positive effects on our brains.

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      How Do Memory Vitamins and Supplements Work?

      Vitamins and supplements work in many different ways to improve memory and brain function. So, let’s break down how some of the major vitamins and supplements work.

      Nootropics

      Any vitamin or supplement that aids memory falls into a category called nootropics. Nooptropic is now a term that refers to any natural or synthetic substance that has a positive impact on memory.[4]

      Each type of nootropic works differently in the body to affect memory.

      Antioxidants

      Some nootropics are antioxidants. Vitamins such as vitamin E fall into this category.

      Antioxidants help memory by protecting cells from free radicals. When free radicals build up in the body (a natural by-product of metabolism, aging, and exposure to environmental toxins), they cause cellular damage, so antioxidants help memory by preventing and reversing some of this damage.

      Regeneration

      Some nootropics help memory by going a step further than antioxidants. Some, like Lion’s Mane mushrooms, may help stimulate new cell growth. This regeneration would help memory by stimulating new neural growth.

      Memory relies on strong neural pathways, so nootropics that stimulate cell growth might be especially effective supplements.

      Stimulants

      In order to remember, we have to be awake and alert. The first part of memory is perception, so nootropics such as caffeine help us wake up enough to perceive in the first place. These sensory perceptions can then be turned into memories.

      Adaptogens

      Adaptogens are believed to regulate your adrenal glands, which helps your body deal with stress. More research is needed, but some think that adaptogens help control hormone levels, which helps your immune system, energy levels, and brain functioning[5].

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      Inflammation Reduction

      Another way some nootropics help memory is by reducing inflammation in the brain. Memory relies on strong neural connections, and inflammation hurts these connections. So, nootropics that relieve this inflammation may be helpful for people to improve their cognitive functioning and memory.

      Improving Sleep

      Research is starting to show that sleep may also be critical for memory. Studies show that memory may require an active forgetting process during REM sleep[6].

      While we sleep, we are actually clearing out less important memory pathways. This helps strengthen the memories that do matter, so sleep is a critical component in memory. Any nootropic that improves our sleep may also be helping to strengthen our memory and brain functioning.

      So, which four memory vitamins and brain supplements top the list?

      The Best Brain Supplements

      If you’re looking to boost your memory, try any one of these supplements.

      1. Vitamin E

      If we’re just talking about vitamins, I’d put my money on vitamin E to boost memory.

      Vitamin E is an antioxidant, which means it protects cells from free radicals. When there are too many free radicals in the body, they cause cellular damage. So, vitamin E helps slow the aging process (cellular damage), including the onset of Alzheimer’s-related dementia.

      Studies have shown that people with adequate levels of vitamin E performed better on cognitive and memory tests and significantly delayed Alzheimer’s-related dementia. To boost vitamin E’s effects even more, some studies have also shown that it performs better with adequate levels of vitamin C[7].

      2. Lion’s Mane

      Lion’s Mane mushroom has been around in Chinese medicine for thousands of years but may not be on your radar just yet. Some preliminary studies on rats have shown that it may improve memory and protect the brain.

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      Lion’s Mane has anti-oxidizing effects in the body, fighting off those free radicals, but it may also stimulate Nerve Growth Factor. As Dr. Mary Sabo L.Ac DACM explains:

      “These proteins stimulate the production of new brain cells and support the health of existing ones. They also support myelin and brain plasticity.”[8]

      Myelin is the fatty substance around nerve cell axons. Axons are like the wires between cells, so when we’re talking about memory, protecting the axon coverings is like protecting the plastic covering of electrical wires. When the covering is compromised, the wire itself is, too.

      Like all the other nootropics, much more research needs to be done on Lion’s Mane, but the early studies seem encouraging. It may help stimulate neural growth, protect brain cells, and remove free radicals, which may help improve your memory.

      3. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

      A lot of research has been done on fish oil and how it affects overall brain health. Just like vitamin E, we should be getting the fatty acids in fish oil in our actual diet. But if you don’t, a supplement might be just what the doctor ordered (and again, please check with your doctor before taking any supplements).

      Fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids. The 3 in omega-3 refers to the 3 different fatty acids in omega-3: EPA, DPA, and DHA.

      There still needs to be more studies to clarify which fatty acids have which effects on the brain, but preliminary studies show that omega-3, especially DHA, is the most important fatty acid for the memory of non-impaired adults[9].

      Omega 3s are found in cell membranes, and studies have shown that consuming them may help protect cell health in the brain by helping build cell membranes throughout the body[10].

      4. Rhodiola Rosacea

      There’s an herb called Rhodiola Rosacea that may also help mental and physical fatigue. Rhodiola Rosacea is an adaptogen, which means it helps regulate the adrenal glands. This helps you deal with stress better.

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      According to Dr. Sabo:

      “One double-blind, placebo-controlled study on physicians working night shift showed it [Rhodiola Rosacea] was helpful in boosting cognitive cerebral functions when taken daily in supplement form.”

      So if you’re looking for a supplement to help with your cognitive endurance, Rhodiola Rosacea may be the thing for you.

      The Bottom Line

      So, what should you keep in mind when considering memory vitamins and brain supplements?

      There is still not enough research to definitively say which memory vitamins are best or which supplements will boost your brain the most. What most doctors agree on is that a healthy diet with natural, unprocessed foods, a physically active lifestyle, a good night’s rest, and strong social relationships are actually the best things we can do for our memories and our brains more generally.

      However, if you’re making those positive changes with your diet, exercise, sleep, and relationships, you may also still be considering supplements. Consult your doctor first because memory problems may be a sign of something much more serious. As Dr. Sabo explains:

      “Problems with memory and concentration can be symptoms of other conditions such as hypothyroid, anxiety, depression, or insomnia. It can also be an early sign of Alzheimer’s or dementia in the elderly. While some supplements can help with these symptoms, getting the right diagnosis and medical care from an MD and targeted support from a holistic practitioner can be the best path for ongoing care.”

      So seek an expert’s opinion and ask informed questions about nootropics, adaptogens, and antioxidants to land on your own decision for which memory vitamins and brain boosters are best for you.

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      Featured photo credit: Ben Sweet via unsplash.com

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