October 11, 2005

More Schizophrenia News

The other CATIE study was released today in the Americn Journal of Psychiatry. Several researchers I worked with at UNC were involved in this story, and I think it's an important one.

In this study, researchers found that early intervention with antipsychotic treatment after a first episode improved long term outcome.

This has long been a hot button issue in the treatment of Schizophrenia. Prolonged, or multiple breaks are required for a complete diagnosis, and much of the testing that needs to be done should be done without meds on board, so it frequently takes a while for patients to get on a maintenance dose of antipsychotics. Furthermore, if the first episode is not severe, patients may not get treated until their symptoms worsen. This study looks at those patients, and discovers that the earlier treatment starts, te better the outcome.

This is not surprising, since we view Schizophrenia as a developmental disorder that lies dormant until triggered, probably by stress, usually in the second decade of life. If a person is showing a propensity to have a psychotic break and then devolve into frank Schizophrenia, treating them early simply gives us a headstart on their illness. If we can keep a patient from getting too sick to be independent or from losing their cognitive skills, then we've gone a long way towards keeping Schizophrenia from controlling their lives and allowing them to be normal.

The abstract is here. Unfortunately the full study is hidden behind a fee....

Posted by caltechgirl at October 11, 2005 10:47 AM | TrackBack