Psychotherapy or counseling for the treatment of psychosis and schizophrenia has been frowned upon in the mainstream. No point in talking with or listening to schizophrenics! The recommended treatment option consists typically of heavy use of antipsychotic drugs. These drugs can cause severe side effects such as weight gain, or debilitating tremors.
However, the results of a new long term study might finally be a game changer. The study found that schizophrenic patients who received more one-on-one talk therapy, in combination with family support and smaller doses of antipsychotic drugs showed greater recovery over the first two years of treatment than the patients who received the standard drug-centered care.
First episode psychosis happens typically to young people in their late teens, or early 20s. The study found that the sooner people start treatment after their first break, the better the outcome. The study was based in part on successful programs in Australia, Scandinavia and elsewhere that have improved people's lives for decades. It is the first implementation in the real world in the US.
The study involved over 400 patients and more than 30 community clinics in 21 states. All randomly selected. The patients were randomly assigned to the combined treatment or to treatment as usual. Over the two years that the patients were followed both groups showed steady improvement, but by the end those who were in the combined program had more symptom relief. They were functioning better. The progress they had made was more noticeable to friends and family.
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