Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Study suggests new way to treat people after first schizophrenia episode - The Washington Post

Quickly identifying people who have suffered a first schizophrenic episode and treating them with coordinated, sustained services sharply boosts their chances of leading productive lives, according to a major study being published Tuesday. And the treatment can be provided in a typical community mental health setting, the researchers concluded.

The study's findings offer new hope for individuals with the severe mental illness. Although it affects only about 1 percent of the population, far less than depression, schizophrenia and its associated disorders often have a devastating, lifelong effect on individuals and families.

Schizophrenia often consigns people to homelessness, incarceration and unemployment. The hallucinations, delusions and often incoherent speech that mark it have proved notoriously difficult to combat with standard treatments, which for many people include only medication and individual therapy.

"The United States is really a decade behind the rest of the world in doing what we already know works," said Vinod Srihari, an associate professor of psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine, who was not involved in the study but has conducted similar research. With the new findings, "it's possible now to say that in many community settings . . . it is possible to deliver this kind of coordinated care and the outcomes are good."

The study, called Recovery After an Initial Schizophrenia Episode (RAISE),found that people who are provided years of "coordinated specialty care" in community clinics had a greater quality of life, more involvement in work and school, and less ongoing pa­thol­ogy than others who received typical care.

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