Researchers say that changing the way people think about schizophrenia could be as effective as the use of drugs.
Whilst only being available to less than 10% of UK patients with schizophrenia, cognitive behavioural therapy is a recommended treatment. A study in the Lancet shows that CBT could be helpful to the many people who refuse antipsychotic medication, however larger trials are needed.
Four in ten patients benefit from taking antipsychotic medication, however the drugs do not work for the majority and side-effects such as type 2 diabetes and weight gain can occur. Due to this up to half of patients with schizophrenia end up not taking the drugs, reports the BBC.
Cognitive behaviour therapy works by indentifying each individual patient’s problem and develops techniques to help them deal with them.
In the study cognitive behaviour therapy was looked at in 74 people. It worked in 46^ of patients which is approximately the same as for antipsychotics.
Prof Tony Morrison, director of the psychosis research unit at Greater Manchester West Mental Health Foundation Trust, said: “We found cognitive behavioural therapy did reduce symptoms and it also improved personal and social function and we demonstrated very comprehensively it is a safe and effective therapy.”
Douglas Turkington, professor of psychiatry at Newcastle University, said: “One of our most interesting findings was that when given the option, most patients were agreeable to trying cognitive therapy.”
Prof Robin Murray, from the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London, said: “Many patients don’t like to take antipsychotics in the long term, this is not surprising as they have significant side-effects. So what to do for patients with continued psychotic symptoms who don’t want to take antipsychotics? Until now little was done except lecture them on how silly this was, with the usual result that the patients would simply stop attending. This study suggests that there may be a better option and that offering CBT is better than just leaving such patients to languish.”
Today is #TimetoTalk day; a campaign to raise the awareness of the benefits of discussing mental health problems whilst also trying to eliminate the stigma surrounding mental health. You can get involved via social media, or see here for more information.
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