Explain how neurotransmitters affect mental health and illness.

A waiting room at a clinical neurosciences laboratory has four patients who have agreed to be subjects in a study of how neurotransmitters affect mental health and illness. The four subjects waiting to be called include the following:

Daryl, 48, has schizophrenia. His greatest challenges are in planning ahead, staying organized, and engaging in critical problem solving on his own. He suffers delusions and often misses important appointments and dates with friends and family members. He lives alone and his apartment is usually messy, which causes him stress, yet he seems unable to do anything about it.

Patti, 30, has struggled with moderate-to-severe, sometimes crippling, depression off and on since the age of 14, shortly before the death of her mother. Patti is a perfectionist and can be very hard on herself. She recently turned to smoking marijuana when a friend gave her some at a party. “But I stopped,” she says, “because it didn’t help.” Since then she has tried to find a therapist who accepts Medicaid, but she has had no luck.

Ben, 23, has been afraid to leave his apartment lately, ever since he had surgery and had to recover at home. “I guess I just got used to being home,” he said. “I guess it just feels safe there.” He has begun to suffer acute anxiety every time he leaves his building. Ben confesses that every day, he frets and becomes anxious, anticipating any small hurdle in his workday. “It’s starting to affect my work,” he says.

Charlene, 82, has suffered increasing levels of confusion and disorientation, which began when her husband found her in the bedroom one day, trying to get dressed for her grandson’s wedding.

“It’s almost time to go, honey,” he had told her.

“Where are we going again?” she had said.

“Jeff’s wedding, remember?”

She nodded. “Who is Jeff again?”

Match each patient above with the best study for him or her to participate in. For which study does each patient most qualify as a subject?

POTENTIAL

SUBJECTS

NEW STUDIES AVAILABLE

Daryl Effects of norepinephrine and serotonin on the brain

Patti Effects of drops in acetylcholine levels

Ben VBR study of the ventricles with and without dopamine

Charlene Levels of GABA and its effects on brain activity

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