Behavioral therapy works in schizophrenia

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With schizophrenia, behavioral therapy can be as effective as medication

With schizophrenia, those affected benefit just as well from cognitive behavior therapy as from antipsychotic medication. This was the result of an investigation by the Greater Manchester West Mental Health Foundation Trust, which was published in the specialist magazine "The Lancet". Accordingly, behavioral therapy could be particularly helpful for patients who refuse to take medication. So far, these have mostly been on their own. Because only a fraction of schizophrenic patients receive such therapy.

Patients with schizophrenia often only receive medication. Although cognitive behavior therapy is one of the officially recommended treatments in the UK, only ten percent of schizophrenia patients receive this therapy.

Schizophrenia is a serious mental illness in which the thinking, affectivity and perception of those affected have changed. This is expressed, for example, by hearing voices and paranoid thoughts. Some patients are unable to leave the house. Behavioral therapy focuses on these problems by identifying individual complaints and developing a strategy to deal with them in everyday life.

Behavioral therapy reduces complaints in schizophrenia The British study tested the effectiveness of such behavioral therapy in 74 patients. It turned out that this treatment method is just as effective as taking antipsychotic medication. Only four out of ten schizophrenic patients benefit from antipsychotic agents. The majority, however, have no benefit from the medication.

“Antipsychotic medications are the cornerstone of treatment for schizophrenia, but half of all people with schizophrenia choose not to take this medication because of side effects such as weight gain, the development of metabolic disorders, and increased risk of sudden cardiac death, or because of that Treatment does not feel effective or because you do not perceive that you need treatment. There is currently no evidence-based, safe and effective treatment alternative, "explains Professor Anthony Morrison, head of the study, in the specialist magazine.

According to Morrison, however, cognitive behavioral therapy leads to a reduction in symptoms. In addition, personal and social skills increase. These effects were seen in 46 percent of the study participants, which roughly corresponds to the value of antipsychotic drugs. A comparison of the two forms of treatment was not carried out in this study. "We have demonstrated that it is a safe and very effective treatment approach," said Morrison.

Many patients prefer behavioral therapy for schizophrenia "One of our most interesting results was that most patients consented to behavioral therapy when they had a choice," Douglas Turkington, who was also involved in the study, said in the journal, but he also emphasized that "Nobody who is currently taking antipsychotics should suddenly stop taking them because there is a great risk of relapse. Medical advice should always be obtained if you are considering stopping your medication."

As the current study shows, it is important for patients with schizophrenia to offer cognitive behavior therapy. Otherwise, they are left to their own devices. Especially those who refuse to take medication often do not go to the doctor. "However, a larger study is required to confirm the clinical impact of our pilot study," Morrison writes. (Ag)

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