Early Intervention Aids Schizophrenia

Antipsychotic medication, psychotherapy and even nutritional supplements could prevent schizophrenia

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Schizophrenia, a chronic and complex mental illness, is difficult to treat. But catching the disease in its early stages, before it damages patients’ lives, could be a key strategy.

Individuals with early symptoms such as social withdrawal, anxiety and confused thinking, might benefit from early intervention before the illness becomes full-blown schizophrenia. Treatments such as antipsychotic medication, psychotherapy and even nutritional supplements could possibly prevent or prolong the onset of the severe stage of the disease, according to a review of recent studies.

"Catching schizophrenia early is possible; go see a therapist."

"Some of these recent studies’ outcomes were promising, although more data is needed," said Dr. Max Marshall, lead review author and professor of community psychiatry at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom. The studies do add to a “growing body of evidence,” Marshall said.

The systematic review, which drew conclusions based on the evidence from medical trials, used data from 18 trials including 1,808 patients.

Some trials showed that patients improved with a combination of medication and therapy, that several types of therapy at once could benefit patients, and even omega-3 fatty acids could help reduce psychosis—delusional thoughts, hallucinations and confused thinking.

Some of these trials were very small and haven’t yet been tried again, the researchers said. But the review suggests that using different types of treatment together could be more beneficial to patients with early schizophrenia than using one type of treatment alone.

Future studies should involve larger groups of patients who are followed for a longer period of time, researchers said.

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Review Date: 
June 20, 2011
Last Updated:
June 21, 2011