Medical breakthroughs can offer better treatments, more help

A young woman in her 20s was working at the New York Post when things began to go awry. Suddenly her personality shifted, she became forgetful and paranoid. The shifts quickly impacted her ability to work as she blew multiple deadlines, forgetting assignments. She couldn’t figure out what was wrong with her.

Many doctors speculated that she had a mental illness, but then she began to have seizures. Her condition rapidly deteriorated, and was manifesting in her physical health as well. Eventually doctors were able to determine that a newly discovered autoimmune disease was wrecking havoc on her body.

The disease is called anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis. Many patients with this begin with what seems like a nervous breakdown, then begin to suffer seizures and then become so sick that they require a ventilator to even breathe as their body shuts down.

This strange disease can manifest very quickly. Just as quickly, a victim can be forced to leave work and address other disruptions due to the disease. Luckily, immune suppressants can help save the lives of individuals with this disease so that, eventually, they can return to their old selves.

This disease mostly impacts young woman, but it is difficult to detect. One woman went through a battery of tests totaling a million dollars before her diagnosis was secured. Another victim of this disease says, “Just a couple of years mark the difference from me being treated for an autoimmune disorder versus a psychiatric one. It just shows how far we must still have to go.”

The brain is a complex organ, and as science is rapidly expanding, more diseases are becoming better understood. As a greater understanding is secured, more help can be extended to more individuals through better treatments, possibly Social Security Disability benefits, increased job protections and more.

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