Schizophrenia is a chronic mental disorder that affects about 1.1% of the US population aged 18 years and older. Schizophrenia patients might have difficulty distinguishing between what is real and what is imaginary. They may be unresponsive or withdrawn; and may have difficulty expressing normal emotions in social situations. A major US study has revealed that talk therapy coupled with early intervention and low doses of anti-psychotic medication can be more effective for people with schizophrenia than routine treatment.
Lead researcher John Kane, professor and chairman of the department of psychiatry at The Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine, said, "We feel that getting the right treatment at the right time is really key. That means a combination of medication and family psycho-education, supportive education and employment, and individual therapy. And that should be given by a team that is working together and focused on helping the patient."
The project was funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, and was implemented in clinics around the country and involved 404 patients. The study said, "In an approach modeled after programs already in place in Australia and Scandinavia, a team of specialists offered recovery-oriented psychotherapy, low doses of antipsychotic medications, family education and support, case management, and work or education support, depending on the individual's needs and preferences."
The results were based on two years of follow-up with the patients, some of whom reported learning how to better control their reactions to hearing voices. Patients treated with the new approach remained in treatment longer, and experienced greater improvement in their symptoms, interpersonal relationships, quality of life, and involvement in work and school, as compared to those given routine treatment.
Rather, Kiev said, "The take-away message for people who may be suffering from psychosis or schizophrenia should be to aim for a proper combination of medication and talk therapy."
The research is published in The American Journal of Psychiatry