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  • Is Aerobic Exercise Effective for Schizophrenic Patients? - Chromatography Investigates

Is Aerobic Exercise Effective for Schizophrenic Patients? - Chromatography Investigates

Sep 04 2020 Read 1008 Times

Schizophrenia is a long-term mental health condition that can cause a wide range of psychological problems. It is sometimes described as a form of psychosis, with a sufferer unable to distinguish their thoughts from reality. Treatment of the condition usually involves drugs and therapy which can involve antipsychotic drugs and cognitive behavioural therapy or CBT.

But the use of drugs can cause metabolic changes in the body. These changes can in themselves cause further problems for a patient already suffering from schizophrenia. A team of researchers in Brazil have investigated whether old-fashioned exercise can help schizophrenia patients keep the metabolic changes in check – and chromatography played its part.

Schizophrenia, drugs, and cortisol

Schizophrenia is a complex condition that affects the mental health of millions of people worldwide. Sufferers can experience delusions, hallucinations, muddles thoughts, and a loss of interest in friends and everyday activities. The treatment, involving hospital stays and medication, can have a large impact on the physical, cognitive, and emotional development of patients. This effects a patient’s ability to live independently which affects the families of patients and those close to them.

One of the main treatments for schizophrenia involves the use of antipsychotic drugs. This can help a sufferer live with their family and be part of the wider community. But these medications can sometimes lead to metabolic changes in the body including on the endocrine system – the chemical messenger system that releases hormones to help regulate bodily functions. One of these hormones is cortisol, a hormone released by the adrenal gland and the body’s main stress hormone.

Blood tests reveal high levels of cortisol and glucose in schizophrenia patients. High cortisol levels can lead to a condition called pseudo-Cushing’s syndrome – a condition characterized by increased fat levels, hypertension, and insulin resistance. Serotonin levels can also be reduced due to changes in the serotonergic mechanism. Can aerobic exercise help control these changes?

Aerobic exercise lowers the cortisol levels

The researchers in Brazil studied whether the effects of an aerobic exercise program could mitigate the changes in cortisol and serotonin in patients taking antipsychotic drugs. They report that there are few studies that have investigated whether aerobic exercise affects these levels in schizophrenia sufferers. They studied 30 patients who were assigned to either an exercise group or a control group. The exercise group cycles for 30 minutes five days a week at a fixed intensity.

Blood samples were taken from each group with cortisol and serotonin levels analysed using chemiluminescence and chromatography. A discussion on troubleshooting a chromatography method is discussed in the article, Troubleshooting Retention Time Changes in (U)HPLC – a Systematic Approach. The researchers found that the exercise group had a significant reduction in cortisol levels and an increase in serotonin levels. They conclude:  The aerobic training program was effective in reducing cortisol levels and increasing serotonin levels in schizophrenic inpatients.


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