Schizophrenia Interventions

Psychotherapy is also widely recommended and used in the treatment of schizophrenia, although services may often be confined to pharmacotherapy because of reimbursement problems or lack of training.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is used to target specific symptoms and improve related issues such as self-esteem, social functioning, and insight. Although the results of early trials were inconclusive as the therapy advanced from its initial applications in the mid 1990s, more recent reviews clearly show CBT is an effective treatment for the psychotic symptoms of schizophrenia

Another approach is cognitive remediation therapy, a technique aimed at remediating the neurocognitive deficits sometimes present in schizophrenia. Based on techniques of neuropsychological rehabilitation, early evidence has shown it to be cognitively effective, with some improvements related to measurable changes in brain activation as measured by fMRI. A similar approach known as cognitive enhancement therapy, which focuses on social cognition as well as neurocognition, has shown efficacy.

Family therapy or education, which addresses the whole family system of an individual with a diagnosis of schizophrenia, has been consistently found to be beneficial, at least if the duration of intervention is longer-term. Aside from therapy, the impact of schizophrenia on families and the burden on carers has been recognized, with the increasing availability of self-help books on the subject. There is also some evidence for benefits from social skills training, although there have also been significant negative findings. Some studies have explored the possible benefits of music therapy and other creative therapies.

The Soteria model is alternative to inpatient hospital treatment using a minimal medication approach. It is described as a milieu-therapeutic recovery method, characterized by its founder as "the 24 hour a day application of interpersonal phenomenologic interventions by a nonprofessional staff, usually without neuroleptic drug treatment, in the context of a small, homelike, quiet, supportive, protective, and tolerant social environment." Although research evidence is limited, a 2008 systematic review found the programme equally as effective as treatment with medication in people diagnosed with first and second episode schizophrenia.

Other

Electroconvulsive therapy is not considered a first line treatment but may be prescribed in cases where other treatments have failed. It is more effective where symptoms of catatonia are present, and is recommended for use under NICE guidelines in the UK for catatonia if previously effective, though there is no recommendation for use for schizophrenia otherwise. Psychosurgery has now become a rare procedure and is not a recommended treatment.

Service-user led movements have become integral to the recovery process in Europe and the United States; groups such as the Hearing Voices Network and the Paranoia Network have developed a self-help approach that aims to provide support and assistance outside the traditional medical model adopted by mainstream psychiatry. By avoiding framing personal experience in terms of criteria for mental illness or mental health, they aim to destigmatize the experience and encourage individual responsibility and a positive self-image. Partnerships between hospitals and consumer-run groups are becoming more common, with services working toward remediating social withdrawal, building social skills and reducing rehospitalization.

Alternative Treatments

Orthomolecular psychiatry considers schizophrenia to be a group of disorders, some of which can be treated with megadoses of nutrients, such as Niacin (vitamin B-3). Proponents of orthomolecular psychiatry claim that an adverse reaction to gluten is involved in the etiology of some cases. This theory - discussed by one author in three British journals in the 1970s - is unproven. A 2006 literature review suggests that gluten may be a factor for patients with celiac disease and for a subset of patients afflicted with schizophrenia, but that further study is needed to conclusively confirm such a link. In a 2004 Israeli study, anti-gluten antibodies were measured in 50 patients with schizophrenia and a matched control group. All antibody tests in both groups were negative leading to the conclusion that "it is unlikely that there is an association between gluten sensitivity and schizophrenia". Some researchers suggest that dietary and nutritional treatments may hold promise in the treatment of schizophrenia.


Further Reading


d and Abstracted from information found at NIAMS, CDC, NIH, FDA, Wikipedia (Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License)

Last Updated: Sep 29, 2009

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