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A parasite called Toxoplasma gondii causes an illness called Toxoplasmosis, which affects about 22 percent of the U.S. population over age 12.
For most people, they are simply carriers as the T. gondii targets cats, using other vertebrates only as a carrier. Yet research, says Tori Rodriguez, MA, LPC, shows that T. gondii may be more of a threat than previously believed. Especially for mental health.
There is a well-established link between T. gondii and schizophrenia. A study last year suggested that it could be linked with one-fifth of schizophrenia cases.
Writing in Psychiatric Advisor, Rodriguez quotes Jaroslav Flegr, PhD, a professor of biology at Charles University in Prague. She says that there may be two different forms of schizophrenia, the more severe of which is "probably caused - in predisposed subjects - by Toxoplasma."
One of the most well-researched aspects of toxoplasmosis is its link to increased dopamine levels in the brain of infected patients. Dopamine affects motivation, fear regulation and more.
New studies are showing a link between T. gondii and mania as well.
Read more about these links at Psychiatric Advisor.
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