Is Schizophrenia Therapy Effective?
Schizophrenia is a mental illness of unknown origin that has the ability to cause a wide range of unpleasant symptoms. Those struggling to deal with the disorder know just how complicated it can make daily life. There are a few schizophrenia treatment options that can help lessen the severity of symptoms so that people are able to function at an adequate level. The first course of action typically consists of psychoactive medication to treat acute symptoms of schizophrenia. While this is useful, it is important that progress is maintained over a long period of time. Cognitive-behavioral schizophrenia therapy may be a potentially beneficial management tool for the condition.
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Schizophrenia
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) teaches people how to examine the emotions and thoughts they experience, and question as to why they experience them, as well. With the help of a licensed practitioner, individuals can learn how to recognize negative thinking and harmful actions. By doing this, more positive perceptions and reactions can be cultivated, allowing people to learn better, healthier coping skills. CBT actively engages a patient by requiring them to explore their own mind and decipher why they believe the things they do, and how they can work to alter them for the better.
There are five subtypes of schizophrenia:
- Paranoid schizophrenia – Consists of auditory hallucinations, delusions/suspicion or both. People with this type of schizophrenia do not experience any cognitive disadvantages, notes Psychcentral.com.
- Disorganized schizophrenia – Consists of disruption to the thought process, which interrupts normal functioning. These individuals may act impulsively, or present inappropriate emotions for the situation.
- Catatonic schizophrenic – Consists of impediments to physical abilities to varying degrees. Some may stay still for excessively long periods of time, experience hyperactive movement, repeat what others say, or mimic the gestures of others.
- Undifferentiated schizophrenia. Consists of symptoms from all of the above.
- Residual schizophrenia – Occurs when symptoms of schizophrenia subside or decrease.
Symptoms of schizophrenia are further broken down into three categories:
- Positive symptoms – the presence of an atypical behavior (i.e. hallucinations, delusions, and catatonia).
- Negative symptoms – the subtraction of normal behaviors (i.e., speech reduction, absence of emotions and motivation, and societal withdrawal).
- Cognitive symptoms: the impairment of thinking and memory processes (i.e. inability to pay attention, and trouble remembering things).
Regarding the use of cognitive therapy for schizophrenia treatment, results have shown to be reasonably successful. Researchers observed the progress of patients who had been hospitalized for a schizophrenic episode and found that there was a reduction of positive symptoms following cognitive-behavioral therapy. More specifically, these people were either given 12 weeks of cognitive-behavioral or activity therapy, says The US National Library of Medicine. During a follow up at the nine-month mark, those who received CBT still had significantly less positive symptoms than the other group. However, negative symptoms did not respond in the same way; there was no difference in the decrease of these symptoms between the two groups, adds The US National Library of Medicine.
While some success has been seen, there are factors to consider that can predict the efficacy of cognitive–behavioral schizophrenia therapy. First, CBT is not useful when the person being treated does not believe they have an illness. As well, CBT is more challenging when people have comorbid issues that may contribute to the symptoms they experience. For example, those with schizophrenia who also deal with substance misuse may be more difficult to treat, as it may be more complicated to actively engage them in the process. On the other hand, factors that have been linked to successful cognitive-behavioral therapy for schizophrenia include:
- Shorter duration of illness (treated and untreated)
- Female gender
- Beginning treatment as soon as possible
- Low level of conviction in personal delusions
Los Angeles Clinical Trials for Schizophrenia
In order to better understand the complexities schizophrenia – including the disorder itself and the people who have it – researchers conduct clinical trials. Clinical trials are a major part of medical research that use volunteer subjects to test experimental treatments and technologies. Clinical trials allow scientists to search for management tools for disease in a safe, controlled environment. Taking part is a clinical trial may benefit those in search of a schizophrenia treatment, as they are often paid and all services provided are free. Of course, there is always the chance that people will receive a groundbreaking treatment before it is made available to the general public.
Finding the right therapy for schizophrenia is an important step on the road to recovery (or at the very least, illness management). Cognitive-behavioral therapy may be beneficial for those with schizophrenia, though there are factors that predict how likely the treatment is to be effective. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is widely practiced, with many therapists across the globe. For those who think they may be interested in cognitive-behavioral therapy as a schizophrenia treatment, contacting a doctor to inquire further may be useful.
If you are interested in participating in a Los Angeles clinical trial for paranoid schizophrenia, contact the Pacific Institute for Medical Research, which is an independent clinical research site specializing in psychiatry since 1982. Visit us online or call us at (310) 208-7144.