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Cognitive therapy helps schizophrenics

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Cognitive therapy may help with severe cases of schizophrenia. For the two to three million American adults who deal with the disease this is good news. Antipsychotic medications reduce hallucinations and delusions but up to one –half continue to experience some symptoms or do not respond well to the meds.

“Mental health professionals often give up on the lowest-functioning cases of schizophrenia and may say that they are not capable of improving,” explained Paul Grant, PhD, lead author of the study and assistant professor in Psychiatry at Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine. “Our results suggest that cognitive therapy can improve quality of life, reduce symptoms, and promote recovery in these patients. This intervention can help these patients improve to the point where they may be able to move up to the next level in psychosocial functioning – ie going from being unemployed to volunteering part-time; not being in school to enrolling in night classes; not socializing to having a weekly social contact and making a friend or two.”

Schizophrenia is a $63 billion business as well. Any move toward recovery helps lift the burden on stressed families and the stressed health care system. “Our study suggests that cognitive therapy might have utility to help reduce public health costs for the most expensive per-patient psychiatric population while simultaneously improving patients’ quality of life,” said Aaron T. Beck, MD, senior author of the study and professor emeritus of Psychiatry at Penn. Dr. Beck is often referred to as the father of cognitive therapy which has benefited many with psychiatric conditions like depression, panic attacks, and generalized anxiety.

The study which appears in the Archives of General Psychiatry shows that cognitive therapy dynamically improved the most neurologically impaired, poorly functioning schizophrenic patients. This is the first study to show a psycho-social treatment can improve functioning in the lowest-functioning cases of the disease.

Source: Archives of General Psychiatry, ScienceDaily

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