The idea of staging and progression of mental diseases borrows from cancer models describing the natural course of illness. The psychiatric stages differ with a stage 0 which denotes asymptomatic, genetic vulnerability, and moves through typically 4 stages to full disease. I have written about bipolar stages in other posts. In this one, I offer a diagram of putative causes of that progression, which appears to have everything to do with inflammation, oxidation, and cellular aging and death. This model firmly medicalizes mental diseases, offers a molecular mechanism of action, and entrusts it in the community of many other chronic diseases like diabetes or heart disease–or cancer.
For me, the good news is found in the list of neuroprotective agents widely available without prescription like NAC or Omega 3. Furthermore, the medications we use appear to be protective rather than destructive to brain health. That is a nice change. I particularly liked seeing how medications indirectly protected nuclear DNA from oxidative stress. That feels reassuring to me, for we appear to be benefitting neurons (i.e. the brain ultimately) at the most fundamental level, the genetic code.